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Apple Watch Rethought

When I saw that Apple had put the speaker and mic on the left edge of the watch, the first thought that came to my mind was that we might another iPad 1 on our hands. In other words, Apple has chosen a much more unrefined starting point for the Watch’s roadmap. As if to make Tim Cook appear lesser than Steve Jobs as a Product Guy. But remember it was Steve Jobs, who presented the iPad 1.

To my mind, the master plan could be something along the lines: Launch Watch in April, milk all initial demand at full price, then enter the holiday season with $75 off on the Sports and $150 off on the Steel Watch. Good planning, as always Apple.

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The Watch as it stands now is lacking in several departments and these would surely get addressed down the line. Then its about how long should one hold out. In my opinion, we should wait till the holidays if not till Watch 2 next year.

Let’s tackle each department we might see improvements in:

APPEARANCE

The Watch is a bit too thick and the crown is a bit too fiddly and the straps are too dumb. Some would like a round face. I highly doubt it, Instead we might get a round case with the flanks housing speakers and / or sensors. We might also see a Plus size which would additionally be curved. And might force future iterations to be curved too.

MATERIALS

Apple Gold Watch is just 28% 18K gold. Without getting into the ethicalities, let’s just say that Apple is planning to sell even the gold ones in huge numbers (at least future iterations) and when we get to that stage, maybe the price would be more like $5000. But, of course, the killer volumes would come from the low end and that’s where Apple might be forced into resin. But Apple is too classy for resin so look out for ceramic impregnated resin probably. We are talking $100 drop per iteration with resin ones starting at an already low $199.

SENSORS

The Watch will finally end up with 5 times more sensors (incl image sensor aka camera) so it is too lacking right now.

BATTERY

The battery is lacking and can be charged only using the charger. Future iterations would try to use motion, temperature and ambient light to charge the watch on the go.

INTERFACE

The crown would enjoy a long innings because Apple has the moral responsibility to remain faithful to the classical design of a watch. However the scroll functionality might see itself being duplicated via slide touch on rectangular cases and via bezel on round cases. Similarly the Force Touch might prove to be too combative for most users and may demand its duplication via button, so rectangular cases could get a rocker with Force Touch on top and Select on bottom, while round cases could get a button above the crown and another below the crown for Force Touch and Select respectively. But even physical buttons are combative for some so Apple might think about adding Physical Touch buttons that work on the basis of Physical Press or Long Touch. The trend towards non-combativeness has earlier been seen in the move towards Assistive Touch in iPhones and iPads. Remember any device with sealed batteries must include Physical Buttons to get out of a Hung State (extremely rare in Apple products, it must be said)

CONNECTIVITY

An WiFi-Only iPad is a decent machine but one with 4G is killer. The Watch might go the same way and when it does, all hell would break loose. The fact that is needs to be tethered to an iPhone has been the Watch’s weakest point thus far. And with 4G comes GPS and we know what that does to any device.

BIOMETRIC CAPABILITY

The biggest trend in the World right now is the Shift to Mobile. And the Sweetest Spot in that Shift is Payments. And apparently NFC alone does not quite cut it. Only NFC+Biometric would succeed and Apple Pay has the lead. The Watch is positioned to make that lead unassailable. In a stroke of genius, Apple decided to use the Heart Rate Sensor as the Biometric verifier. Coupled with the fact that Apple Watch works down to iPhone 5, Apple has been able to broadbase Apple Pay to iPhone 5. And there is literally nothing stopping it from broadbasing it still further down to iPhone 4 and iPads of yore. Of course it would never broadbase Apple Pay to Android, but come to think of it, there is nothing stopping it from doing just that either. If there is ever a rumour to that effect, I would double my AAPL holdings.

So there we have it:

an APPLE WATCH 2 concept

It is slimmer.

It has better battery capacity.

It has a smart strap interface so straps with solar cells and/or sensors can be attached.

It uses thermocouples and motion to charge the batteries apart from the inductive charger.

It comes in a plus variant that has a larger curved screen and 4G with GPS.

It comes is a Touch ID variant which lacks Heart Rate Sensor.

The smart strap interface takes care of sensors so Apple continues with just the Heart Rate Sensor / Touch ID because they never really cared about Fitness, only the attendant Biometric capabilities for Payment purposes.

Instead of Assistive Touch, it comes with slide touch the left edge to scroll / zoom (duplicating the Crown functionality). Also the Physical Buttons are Touch capable in that the Press is duplicated by Long Touch. On round cases, the screen has the same shape but the flanks have speakers, mics, sensors etc while the bezel provides the scroll / zoom along with the crown. There are two physical buttons for Force Touch and Select. The rectangular cases have them as a rocker switch, while the round cases have them as separate buttons above and below the crown.

The left edge is traditionally the rest edge for a watch so we can be sure that Apple would move the speaker and mic away from there and is also the reason we should hold out till the next iteration. Both rectangular and round cases have two speakers for stereo and two mics (also used for noise cancellation). In the rectangular case the speakers are above the screen and the mics are below the screen screen. On round cases, the left speaker and left mic are on the left flank, while the right speaker and right mic are on the right flank.

If you are a business looking to cash in on the Apple Watch craze, then Straps is where the action would be. Yes the Watch 1 might see a lot of intricate 3D printed straps on offer but the killer straps would come only after the smart strap API is made available. So start looking for sensors and stuff and start making these small and smart. Personally I wouldn’t mind one from Amazon that that 4 cameras and Firefly to duplicate Fire Phone’s capability on the Apple Watch, lol.

Mobile OS Rethought

This post might be of interest to those in Internet of Things, Virtualization and Mobile OSes simply because it tries to combine all three. As usual, I have zero technical insight into these areas. I am just a mobile user asking for a better deal. Also, as usual, I want to talk about breaking down some or the other monolithic architecture into interchangeable components.

What I am proposing here is simply this: Get rid of SoC. Google’s Ara phone is a step in the right direction but still too Google dependent. And Hardware oriented. We need to get rid of Hardware Integration for sure but also Software Integration.

The whole point of this post is that if a developer wants to make a tiny little app for a old operating system, people should not get to laugh at the OS, they can of course laugh at the app itself.

Yes I am talking about are individual App Plus OS Virtual Machines (APOSVMs) running on component level Hypervisors. So there is one Hypervisor for the camera. Another one for the GPS and so on.

But best of all, because there is no traditional OS, just a bunch of APOSVMs, backup processes are not just fast and flexible but also allow for huge offshoring potential. Offshoring is where the APOSVM uses an external resource even if it is just storage but can also be processing and sensors etc.

How many of us have tried to mess with an Android device and have it promptly get all bricked up. It is simply the result of the tight integration not just within the hardware but also between the hardware and software.

Similarly how many of us have got locked into an old OS because it takes a huge effort to achieve the said integration so much so that it is only worthwhile for popular and high end mobiles.

With APOSVMs, these things would not be a worry because the OS is no longer monolithic. Not just that, think about the evolution of the OS itself We would soon see thousands of custom Mini OSes dedicated to handling only a subset of tasks.

But most importantly we might get to see truly distributed computing because APOSVMs allow offshoring.

APOSVMs are of course the goal, but let’s start off small. Let’s start with an Android phone which allows use of camera or GPS without booting up, yikes. Essentially we have a separate chip for the Camera, another one for the GPS, both these have their own WiFi, Bluetooth and maybe even cellular capability.

Naturally with the Internet of Things being deployed we may see newer protocols for short and long distance communications. Also these have their own RAM and storage (both flash and faster cache). This also means that if we are aren’t using either, these are in a power off state.

Of course that does not mean that we can’t take that sudden photo. That’s because we were assuming no APOSVMs. With APOSVMs, the Camera would be powered on and have a Hypervisor running and the Camera App APOSVM would have an instance on the Camera Hypervisor and another on the Mother System for offshoring. Of course the offshoring would be opportunistic and take place only when the Mother System is handling fewer tasks of lesser importance. For instance to convert RAWs to JPEGs.

This also brings up the topic of Mother System, which is essentially a general purpose offshoring platform that offers Cloud Components too. And of course there is no restriction on the number of Mother Systems on a phone. So for instance there can be a low powered Mother System akin to the Motion Coprocessor seen in modern Mobile Chip Architectures. Similarly there can be a scalable Mother System to achieve the sweet spot between performance and efficiency. And so on.

Cloud Components for Mother Systems refer to remote storage, processing or sensor capabilities. Even the Home NAS could be fair game here.

So there you have it: an APOSVMs based OS that runs of Independent Hardware Components each of which use Hypervisors that manage APOSVMs along with their offshoring to Mother Systems and Cloud Resources. In a way, this is what the Project Ara should really be gunning for.

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