Did Apple drop the ball, or knock it out of the park with the Apple Watch 4?

While some in the Tech world have viewed Apple’s emphasis on health and well-being with their latest Apple Watch as “a huge loss for the smartwatch category as a whole, especially for the enterprise”, I believe this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the last decade we’ve seen Apple completely revolutionize what we think a cell phone could be, and how it can be used. Now, Apple has gone ahead and opened the eyes of mainstream consumers to the immense power of a wearable.

Yes, it is this authors opinion that the Apple Watch 4 is THAT good.

Others in the tech sector agree, having said “while the health benefits are only going to help a subset of users, they’re welcome and show the direction Apple is heading. If it had better battery life, and thus able to track sleep, the Watch 4 could have been the perfect smartwatch.”

Let me rephrase my thought: Apple NAILED IT.

 

Here’s why:

With Baby boomers hitting retirement, and more health conscious than perhaps any previous generation at that point in their lifecycle, Apple’s hard pivot to appeal to this massive audience has just put them waaaaaaaayyyyy ahead of their competition, even Google, when it comes to data for healthcare and personal well being.

Apple seems to have recognized their real target audience for the Apple 4 watch is not the 20 or 30-something techies, and instead their audience is really those in their mid- to late 50’s and 60’s. Perhaps in a hat tip, or show of hand to this fact, Apple super-sized the Apple Watch 4’s screen display a whopping 30%.

 

AI: “Feed me (good) data!”

Last week I was conversing with a journalist for their piece looking to get more in depth as to whether the AI algorithm for detection of skin cancer is bias, based off of this article posted on The Atlantic’s website.

It’s my opinion that the thought process of  “AI is at the point where it can understand and work around our existing biases”, is prevalent for those not in the Artificial Intelligence fields. This is what the general population thinks AI does and is capable of.

This, unfortunately, is just not YET the case, as most of the commercially available Artificial Intelligence takes the data we input, and builds systems around & from that data. This is most certainly NOT the case for all Artificial Intelligence at this point in time, as we’ll discuss in some of the upcoming posts about the different kinds of Artificial Intelligence and their (current) implications. But the perception is that AI automatically disregards our own biases, or biases in the data, which it cannot yet do…. theoretically this ability IS coming, however it’s my belief we are at least 5-8 years away from the beginnings of this ability. But hey, I could be wrong.

 

An Apple a day…

The Apply 4 watch has just put Apple at the front of the class when it comes to healthcare and wellness data. Which is huge, because he who owns and is able to decipher the biggest data set (accurately and competently), wins.

It’s that simple.

Especially with the rapidly rising costs of healthcare in the US and around the globe, Apple has just begun the winding up of a massive spring (oh yes, you see what I did there ), which has the potential to push us massively further ahead when it comes to our health.

Apple is going to quickly become the owner of the biggest and most prudent medical & personal healthcare information outside of your primary care physician…and they’ll surpass even your doctor of 25 years in just the next 3 years…

But like all new technologies, there are going to be bumps and bruises as Apple “takes the training wheels” off the fitness wearable technology, and begins it’s journey to becoming the 5 time Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winners of the Fitness Technology sector.

 

The learning curve

There have been a large number of “new technologies” launched in the health & fitness space, and well, most of the “big ones” have flopped. Of most recent which comes to mind is Garmin’s attempt to give the user a “recovery status score”, in an attempt to help the user better use their energy. From “recovery scores” of 1,000 and needing 3 weeks off to recover from a longer bike ride, to a score of 50 and needing 10 hours to recover from a short, super intense session, this attempt has flopped.

Perhaps it’s simply a fail for the time being as Garmin refines its algorithm, but I think that it will fall more in line with the Jawbone Up wristband of yesteryear. This was a product that I personally was super keen on, as it advertised that the band could sense when you were out of “deep sleep” and would wake you within a reasonable timeframe of when you set the “wake time”, so that you would wake up feeling refreshed and well slept, instead of groggy and tired due to the alarm jolting you out of deep sleep.

Spoiler alert: It was a glorified alarm clock.  Although I must admit, it was much nicer to wake up to the wrist band vibrating, as opposed to my alarm blaring at me. Perhaps we can call that a draw?

 

 

For Apple, the learning curve for the breakthrough technologies on the Apple Watch 4, such as the EKG, will hopefully be less painful, although I am sure that Apple has put these new technologies through their paces enough, so as to deliver accuracy and precision. They’ve greatly updated the Wireless abilities, allowing you to listen to podcasts etc, which makes it a more valuable accessory.

As for the fitness side of it….well, let’s just focus on the fact that there are other companies crushing the run/bike/swim/hike tracking part of the world, including the aforementioned Garmin, and Polar. I don’t think Apple is too concerned with this, as for the average user in the target audience this author figures they’re aiming for, the functionality is a bit more than good enough.

A Smart watch that automatically senses when I’ve begun exercise and will track it? Great! One less thing in my life that will help me get healthier and keep me from suffering decision fatigue and sabotaging my health goals!

I’m keeping an eye out for the updates Apple will make to the Software on the Apple 4 watch in the first 6 months after launch, as I have a sneaking suspicion the data scientists there are just licking their chops, waiting for the user data to be broken down and refined by their AI based algorithms.

The race may seem to be to getting the “first fully functional wearable” out to the masses, but really, this is a huge folly. DATA accruement while providing increasing value to the broader market is the winning formula, and Apple is yet again crushing it.

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