In my last post about wearables, I explained how this new kind of device could improve people's lives, especially their financial lives.
I reviewed the state of the art in wearable devices, shared my outlook for the next few years, and described the similarities between the first version of the Apple Watch and the first version of the iPhone. I also promised to keep you updated on our progress with Android, so here you have a prototype of how Strands Loop looks on Android Wear:
When we started to develop this application, we wanted to follow the same approach as our Apple Watch version. Basically we see the Android Wear app as an extension of the Strands Loop Android app, in such a seamless way that users wouldn't need to take out their smartphones to accept or reject relevant offers on the go. Note that implementing this workflow is feasible thanks to the tight integration between Android applications and Android wear extensions.
The interaction between wearables apps and smartphone apps is pretty much the same as in the Apple Watch version, except a few neat little differences. For example, users can view more details like merchant locations on a map or see a full-featured description of the offer on their smartphone.
Basically most wearable apps enable users to receive notifications, view offers at a glance and perform basic actions on them. But, if the user wants to see more details they usually have to switch to the smartphone application.
Apple Watch or Android Wear?
Now that we have met both platforms, the obvious questions arise: What is our verdict? Who will win out in the new 'wearables war'? What might seem a contentious question at first becomes a bit clearer if we look to the past...
As in many other cases, history is repeating itself in the smartwatch arena. Apple has taken an existing idea, produced its own take on it, and loyal customers have bought in huge. Other players like Google quickly follow suit by creating the same kind of product, but following their own philosophy (i.e. Google develops and ships the Android operating system, for which any company can produce a compatible device).
The result? In the first few years following product launch Apple is the market leader, but as the time goes by they will find it increasingly difficult to compete against a wide range of handsets, all of which benefit from a shared OS and app ecosystem. Note that we are talking about market share here, not revenue, a metric in which Apple is the undisputed leader.
What's next for wearables?
As future outlooks go, Apple will continue targeting the premium end of the market whilst other manufacturers will try to focus on bringing this technology to the masses (i.e. by offering cheaper devices). The main difference wearables have with other devices is that they will remain more of a 'nice-to-have caprice' than others like the smartphone, which has become essential to our everyday lives.
Another main difference is that the consumer's choice of wearable device is often heavily influenced by the kind of smartphone they already own. That said, Google made a very smart move by making the Android Wear platform available on iOS, whereas Apple Watch can only work with iPhone devices. At the end, premium users are more likely to buy wearable devices, and we all know who is king in that segment...