Apple is set to release an iOS-powered smart watch this year, according to multiple sources. The company’s head of design, Jony Ive, has apparently been working with over 100 engineers for several years, and recently decided to adapt iOS to the smaller form factor rather than create or adapt a proprietary mobile operating system like the one found on the latest-gen iPod nano.
Running the iOS kernel will ensure compatibility with iPhone and iPads, passing along notifications and enabling features that third-party accessory manufacturers like Pebble don’t have access to. iOS only provides a small number of APIs for developers to use in conjunction with their accessories, making true compatibility difficult.
One of the hold-ups in getting the so-called iWatch to market has been battery life; the engineering team is aiming for 4-5 days battery life, but early engineering samples have struggled to achieve two days.
Whether the watch will capture the hearts of consumers like the iPhone and iPad depends on many factors, but Apple has a way of convincing users they need its products. The watch is ripe for re-imagining, though: wearable computing makes sense on the wrist in ways it likely never will on the face. But with so many tech-comfortable citizens supplanting their time pieces and alarm clocks for cell phones years ago, it will be an uphill battle. But with the growth in fitness bands, the iWatch could be the best choice for both time keepers and fitness seekers, and that’s a market Apple is comfortable in.