Thursday, October 21, 2021

Apple has to let the Watch work like a phone, or consider itself dead in the water

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Let’s pretend for a moment that there isn’t a Mac App Store anymore. Let’s pretend that the app store stops being about apps for Macs. If this doesn’t happen, iOS users will be forever waiting for next-gen Apple Watch updates, hoping they get upgrades that bring added functionality to their current model.

Chances are that you think that this will never happen. While Apple Watch is increasingly being packaged with smartphones, it still lacks the ability to make phone calls. This, I mean, well. But if it really wants to go all in on its ambitions to be more than just a good watch, then it has to get real about making the new Apple Watch a phone. And that means offering something that feels like it’s functionally equivalent to the best smartphone on the market.

It seems that the 3G component that Apple has chosen to let in is making that clear. The Watch is already pretty handy, but simply having the ability to make phone calls makes it feel like a much better watch. Sure, I had a 3G iPhone when I started using an Apple Watch, but to really feel the benefits of calling through the watch, you need it to be a phone instead of a watch.

Does this mean you need to hold on to an existing Apple Watch? Yes, but it’s worth a thought for people who don’t want to ever buy a new watch again. The MacBook was able to replace your desktop for the same price. If the MacBook had a bigger screen, keyboard, or an audio jack, it could serve as a Mac too.

Of course, the most glaring omission is apps. A 3G Apple Watch could run apps like a standard Watch OS, offering the same features as your iPhone, all running on the same network. It could also serve as a constant view of your smartphone screen if you want to perform a quick text message.

Sadly, the Apple Watch 3G can’t do all of this, of course. But with the industry in flux, it makes sense for Apple to try to play catch-up. The Watch now costs a lot of money, and 3G would bring the price down. The company has already partnered with Evernote to enable Siri voice control on the Watch, so that makes sense.

While Apple is planning to release the Watch 3 in June for $399, it’s already working on the “3G model”. Last year, the company unveiled an Apple Watch with a 512MB RAM and 64GB of storage for $49. That model can also currently charge wirelessly, thanks to inductive charging. That will also likely come in 3G form.

It’s early, but I have started to see exciting potential for this technology. At best, it will be a nice level of extra functionality. If it were to match the performance of the 3G iPhone 4s, however, it would easily become the phone for smartwatches.

Apple’s biggest “threat” to smartphones isn’t third-party handsets, but consumers buying a phone second or third time. Expect every Apple Watch to have the ability to make and receive phone calls from 3G at some point this year. If this doesn’t happen, Apple Watch might be the worst smartwatch on the market after this year.

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