A lot of iOS 8 features appear to indicate that Apple is indeed working on iWatch (or whatever it chooses to call its wearable gadget). There's an interesting discussion going on, sparked by Mark's writeup on 9to5Mac.
While things like notification widgets and HealthKit do point to the imminent possibility of an iWatch, three features stand out distinctly from the rest. These three features are clearly forward-looking in a way that's clearly indicative of the iWatch.
Here's what I'm talking about:
- Handoff for Calls and Texts
- Lightning connectors for Headphones/Earphones
- iCloud Photo Library
Also Read: iPhone 6 Release Date
Handoff for Calls and SMS
In iOS 8, you'll be able to make and receive calls right from your Mac (even though it's routed through your iPhone). The feature is called “Handoff”. You don't have to pick your iPhone when there's a call or a message: you can do that right from your Mac.
The extension of this feature, logically, would be the capability of attaching any other iDevice to the system. So, you can have an iWatch where you can make/receive calls and send/receive text messages/iMessages. It just needs to be connected to your iPhone through Bluetooth or any other tech that Apple proposes to introduce.
Even though Handoff for phone calls and SMSes was demoed as a Mac-related feature compatible with iOS 8, there's obviously work under the hood that extends the feature to any other device inside the iOS ecosystem. So, yeah. That means iWatch.
Headphones with Lightning Cables
Here's a small iPod Nano-like device that you wear on your wrist. It needs recharging so you put a lightning port there. But it can also play music so you need to put a 3.5mm headphone port. But it's so small that you can't jam too many ports on this tiny device. What do you do?
If you're Apple, you make earphones with lightning cables instead of the 3.5mm jack. You configure the software (iOS 8) so that it's capable of audio input/output via the magical lightning cable and port.
But having said that, imagining an earphone connected to your watch seems very absurd (because you move your hands a lot and a dangling piece of wire isn't really a good functional design; heck, it's not even a functional design). Which is why the concept of an iWatch with detachable/interchangeable straps makes sense. That opens up more possibilities beyond the scope of this post.
iCloud Photo Library
In iOS 8, every photo you click is uploaded to your iCloud account so that it's available on all devices. You no longer have to turn on photo stream in order to do this. Also, the way photo albums are arranged and auto-managed has changed drastically.
But why would Apple do this? While this makes it easier for you to access (and search) your photos from all of your devices, there could be something more. The iWatch being a tiny gadget would have severe limitations in storage. That means it would have to access photos from cloud rather than storing them on chip. The iCloud Photo Library decision now seems to be more reasonable if this is the case.
Other features like HealthKit do have a bearing on the iWatch. The notification widgets, for instance, could be much more than what it currently looks like. On the iWatch, it could play a vital role when combined with QuickReply.
The iWatch is expected to be released later this year (October, best guess). But we wouldn't be surprised if Apple decided to surprise the world with an iWatch released alongside the iPhone 6.