In what sounds like an almost ridiculous and can’t possibly be true scenario, Apple has officially been granted a patent for the much-rumored iWatch. This time though we’re seeing a name that might be more official written right on one of the designs: iTime. What’s also interesting is what Apple might be doing with the device and how this patent is going to affect already existing smartwatches and their respective manufacturers. We’ve seen these sorts of shenanigans before from Apple and the US Patent Office, which for lack of a better term seem to be in bed with eachother over a number of ridiculous patents that have been granted in Apple’s favor in the past. But is this a repeat of history or the turning of a new leaf for the American company that’s still widely admired in its homeland?
First off let’s look at the patent itself, which is actually for a number of different designs. The first design is what we all expect from a smartwatch at this point, and features an all-in-one electronic square complete with a touchscreen and all internal circuitry, including dedicated GPS, biometric, NFC, proximity and a whole suite of other sensors that are sure to keep this from lasting more than a day in a single charge. While it’s sort of crazy to see Apple try to pack this much stuff into a watch that’s going to ultimately have a tiny battery compared to a phone, there’s no telling what they might have up their sleeve.
The second design is very reminisce of the iPod Nano from some years back, which if you’ll remember was small and square and had many after-market solutions for actually turning it into a watch. The patent itself is actually for the band, which features a number of integrated circuitry that a square device would fit into. Whether or not this is specifically going to be a watch-like strap for a next-generation iPod Nano or not remains to be seen, but the fact that both of these designs are in one patent brings further interest into an already hot-topic product.
Now for the real question: how is this going to affect current smartwatch products, namely Android Wear since Google just launched that a few weeks ago now. First off Apple is doing some different things, including using gestures instead of swiping to perform actions. Second, while the patent talks about notifications being sent to the iTime it doesn’t sound like these notifications are as rich as the ones we’re used to on Android Wear right now, and actions are going to have to be performed on the phone rather than on the watch. It also appears that Apple is going more for a fitness band rather than the full phone integration that current smartwatches offer, meaning this might not even be the same type of product, as a whole, as current Android Wear and other smartwatches are. The official announcement for the iTime should be in the next few months, and we’re going to have to wait until then to see how much this really affects other smartwatches, especially since this patent was filed all the way back in 2011.