This is not the first time that an Apple iWatch concept has surfaced. New details have emerged and it appears Apple is testing curved glass prototypes with manufacturing partner Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry Co).
One company that could be directly involved is the popular Corning Glass brand. Corning currently produces Gorilla Glass for many smartphones and have begun using Lotus Glass for OLED and LCD devices. A new technology that they announced in 2012 could be used on a curved glass display is Corning Willow.
“Corning Willow Glass will help enable thin, light and cost-efficient applications including today’s slim displays and the smart surfaces of the future. The thinness, strength, and flexibility of the glass has the potential to enable displays to be “wrapped” around a device or structure.”
Many of the world’s top selling phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S3, use the Corning Gorilla glass solution. Previous technology required a thicker screen due to the manufacturing process. Willow Glass touts glass that is only 100 microns thick. That is equivalent to only a sheet of standard copy paper. Of course any iWatch will have to support some sort of flash memory, possible Bluetooth radio and a rechargeable battery. Having the ability to use such a thin screen only creates more room for other components and a larger battery for longer life.
All of this including the Corning Willow Glass is pure speculation at this point. Independent pieces from the WSJ and NYT have both reported that Apple has taken the next step and have begun testing designs for the possible iWatch. The NYT report went as far as saying the iWatch would run the same version of iOS as current iPhone and iPads. When I read this it got me wondering about screen size and battery life. Apple has always been cautious with increasing technology that would hamper battery life. A watch that would run a full version of iOS could require a large battery and a bulky look is not very Apple like.
I think that an Apple solution would be more like a full version of iOS on certain apps or features. Full Siri integration utilizing Bluetooth to communicate with an existing iPhone or iPad. The view Contacts and music play control of the connected device could be the full iOS versions. Of course functions similar to Pebble’s solution would also be included like reading emails, text messages and seeing caller ID for incoming calls.
The advantage Apple has is they are not working with their gimped API’s that they allow current 3rd parties to use. Apple could have full Siri commands to work with Apple Maps turn by turn directions and other native apps. Tap a dedicated button on the watch to dial a selected contact or to unlock your phone and compose a new email to that selected contact. Setting an alarm could possibly be done on the watch itself or via Siri, but a silent vibrating alarm would also be a nice feature. With a version of iOS the possibilities are endless with full device control.
Of course these are all concepts currently, but there is little doubt Apple is eventually jumping into the watch market and the wearable computing market as a whole.