No, what’s coming to Watch– according to all the rumormeisters– is 4G LTE. Yes. That one. Just like the one in your iPhone. Except in a Watch. And when it arrives Watch will kinda sorta mostly become a standalone device that is no longer tethered to the iPhone.
There are a number of issues yet to be fully overcome with Watch, but Apple’s success with the wearable should point us toward the future, even if it’s little more than a glimpse.
Battery – my Watch Series 2 makes it through a day with ease, but not quite enough for a full 24-hours. My husband’s larger 42mm Watch can go just about two full days without a charge, and we have both devices loaded up with alerts, alarms, and notifications ad nauseam. A 4G LTE standalone Watch– not tethered to iPhone for communication– will need good battery life.
Storage – most of us don’t think of Watch as a place to put much more than a few apps and data, but it will hold music and it’s likely that future models will have more storage than the original iPod which featured 1,000 songs in your pocket. Can we expect Watch to use Bluetooth to power our AirPods while we jog or exercise sans iPhone? What impact will that have on Watch battery life?
Camera – alright, this is more of a wish list item than an issue that Apple needs to solve right away, but does any certified Apple Watcher not expect to see a selfie camera and FaceTime in Watch a few years down the road?
Phone Calls – this is a feature that already works when Watch and iPhone are tethered but it’s such a crummy user experience that it may take Apple a few years of 4G LTE standalone Watch experience to iron out the issues. Yes, right now you can use Watch as your cell phone. There’s a Phone icon as a screen complication, and Phone can be set as a member of the Dock. The problem is a combination of Watch microphone, Watch speaker, and the lag or latency when using Watch as the cell phone.
Without question, using Watch as a cell phone is safer while driving than fishing through a purse, bag, bag pack, or pocket to answer a call (do you know how many people drive cars with Bluetooth but don’t know how to pair their smartphone to the car?). I’ve used Watch many times to answer or make phone calls and while it works most of the time– not always– the speaker and microphone experience is anemic at best. Often the speaker is garbled in such a way that you can’t understand the caller and I know from experience that often the caller cannot understand me.
Will that improve with Watch 4G LTE? Let’s hope so. Otherwise, we’re back to “Hello? Hello? Can you hear me now?”