In one of Apple’s latest TV adverts, ‘Strength’, they showcase some of the most popular fitness apps, integrating smart technology with tracking and analysis.
The ad shows people using iPhone as part of their daily fitness routine – weighing themselves, swimming, running, doing weights – all with apps connected to iOS.
It also shows a variety of wearable devices, such as the Misfit Shine fitness tracker and the Wahoo Bike sensor – which track your movements and send data back to their corresponding apps.
However, Apple aren’t just showcasing 3rd party apps and devices with this ad, they are preparing their significant user base for a paradigm shift in the way we use technology.
Apple have chosen fitness with good reason, as fitness bands dominate the wearables market with over 60% share. They are also launching their own Health App (with the forthcoming iOS 8 release) and a ‘HealthKit’ platform for app developers to integrate their data into Apple’s hub.
But this is all just laying the groundwork for their first foray into the wearables market themselves, with their heavily anticipated iWatch due for release this fall (alongside, it is expected, iPhone 6 and iOS 8).
The iWatch will integrate directly with their Health App, measuring different health related metrics like heart rate, calories burned and steps taken. With the HealthKit integration it is likely that iWatch will be able to integrate with 3rd party apps, but without the need for additional 3rd party wearable hardwear.
Not to be outdone, Google announced their finalized version of Android Wear at Google I/O 2014. Android Wear is an operating system - like Android – rather than a unified product like iWatch. This plays to Google’s advantage as it has enabled them to steal a march on Apple in terms of hardware releases, with the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live due for release this month.
Google claim that will build their wearable software to sync seamlessly with a pared smartphone, and make voice commands central to the control system.
Since this will require users to own both a smart watch and a smartphone on the same operating system, this should present a sizable opportunity for growth. Clearly, both companies see wearables as an opportunity for deeper market penetration.
Apple Vs Google
Some feel that Google’s secret weapon will be the integration of Google Now, giving your smart watch the ability to tell you what you need before you even realize you need it.
Google can pull together information from your email, your calendar, your search history, Google Maps and location data to serve highly personalised messages that inform you of your current scenario.
Whilst Google Now is already available on Android phones, it does feel like a perfect fit for a smart watch device, so it could work in Google’s favour in the war of the wearables.
Michelle Smith, Apple expert from MachMachines, thinks not, ‘Currently the wearable market is dominated by fitness products – as they are the perfect use-case for wearable tech. Apple design products to solve specific needs, and in the case of health and fitness, this is biometric health tracking.’
Whilst the first Android Wear devices do offer nothing in the way of biometric tracking, at their I/O Google did also announce Google Fit, which may yet prove to be their answer to Apple’s HealthKit.
However it seems likely that Apple will push the health angle as their point of differentiation, which would certainly help explain the deeper message in the ‘Strength’ advert.