The attempt to create a smartwatch with widespread appeal is the latest fracas in wearable technology, and despite the widespread perception that the appeal of smartwatches is currently limited to the fitness and geek niches, Apple is joining in with the Apple Watch. While few people were surprised by Apple choosing to throw their hat into this particular ring, many were surprised by the name. With the success of the iMac, iPad, iPod and iPhone, most people were expecting the iWatch. But putting naming quirks aside for the time being, the question remains: will Apple succeed where others have failed and make the smartwatch popular outside of niche markets?
The Perks of a Smartwatch
There are certainly some valid reasons why the idea of a smartwatch is catching on, especially within the aforementioned niche markets.
- They allow you to see notifications quickly, easily and discreetly without taking out your phone.
- They facilitate health-conscious decision making by tracking various aspects of health and fitness.
- They encompass new application options hitherto unseen.
And don’t forget that for a certain segment of the population they allow the user to feel like they are a part of the future dreamt of in science fiction.
The Price of an Apple Watch
With the Apple Watch’s release scheduled for late April, the buzz is building around this up-and-coming smartwatch contender. Interestingly, the primary differentiator actually seems to be stylistic in nature. There has been a lot of discussion about how the different face sizes, body materials and strap options allow the user a choice between 38 different styles. Nevertheless, with prices ranging from $349 to $17,000, some of the style options are going to be far outside of the average person’s price range. Even excluding the gold-bodied Apple Watch Edition line, the upper price point of $1,099 could be prohibitively exorbitant for many people.
The Security of an Apple Watch
With any new gadget, questions of security should be addressed.
Since the possibility of physical theft is inherent in owning any expensive piece of technology, the question arises: do smartwatches in general, and the expensive Apple Watch in particular, make the owner a potential target for thieves? Unfortunately, the simple answer is that any expensive possession, especially those that can be observed due to their very nature, could potentially make you a target for some unscrupulous person. Being cautious about when and how you use these possessions is the key to mitigating the worst of the danger.
Apple Pay Security
The incorporation of Apple Pay with the Apple Watch is another point of possible security problems, this time with your financial data. This is mainly being addressed by Apple Pay requiring an opt-in PIN for authorization each time the watch is removed and replaced. As long as the watch’s sensors maintain skin contact, the authorization is valid and Apple Pay can be used. This should, in theory, make it more secure from use by thieves. However, there is always the possibility of that same thief coercing the PIN from you at the time of theft. Therefore, I would suggest exercising cautious if you choose to use these technologies in tandem.
The Apple Watch actually seems to be more secure than most of the emerging smartwatch contenders. Unlike some of its competitors, the Apple Watch is designed to store very little data on the watch itself. Most of the watch’s functionality comes from being synced to an iPhone which holds most of the data at rest, making it more difficult to steal valuable information.
However, any time we make data more convenient, we tend to make it less secure. The most likely security risk that could arise with the Apple Watch is the security of data being communicated between the watch and the iPhone it is synced to. Synchronization between the devices is accomplished via Bluetooth. While this type of encrypted communication is generally safe, there have been cases of it being breached. It has been shown that the communications between the Android smartwatches and smartphones could be vulnerable to attacks that intercept the messages. With the Apple Watch release still forthcoming, it is too soon to know if they will have the same potential vulnerability.
In conclusion, the Apple Watch looks to be a bit of a game changer in the world of wearable technology, but those choosing to adopt this new technological fad would do well to think about the potential risks associated with them. I suppose the question remains: will Apple’s new gadget be enough to help the smartwatch penetrate beyond the fitness and geek niches? Possibly, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.