Apple introduced the rugged Apple Watch Ultra this week — with a bigger, brighter 49mm display, an extra hardware button, bigger battery, and better speakers — designed for more extreme outdoor conditions. But I believe the $800 smartwatch can be used in another way: for watching TV.
Wait, wait, wait, listen to me; it is not a new idea. In 1982, Japanese watchmaker Seiko released a wristwatch that could receive both UHF and VHF channels, although the actual receiver was in a huge belt bag that you had to connect to the LCD screen on your wrist. The idea never really caught on (except in the James Bond movie Octopus), but it introduced an exciting and futuristic TV experience that we haven’t nailed down yet.
When the original Apple Watch hit the market in 2015, references have been made to the Seiko TV Watch. It was, after all, a futuristic Bond-esque wrist computer. But seven years later, almost no functionality around watching videos has been added to the device. The two ways I’ve found to watch any type of video are someone sends me a clip via iMessage and then watches it from my Apple Watch or downloads a third-party app called WatchTube, which is a bit buggy and lacks a lot of video playback features. None of these methods come very close to the television experience. With the Apple Watch Ultra’s screen, speaker, and battery life upgrades, video support is now a more justifiable request.
I’m not sure I’m watching prestige TV like Dragon House or movies like Top Gun: Maverick would be a great experience on a watch, but what if we could watch something like… a baseball game right from our wrists? An ambient but active television pastime. This is the future that the Seiko TV Watch promised: having the most portable hands-free TV live at all times. I would absolutely love to walk around my neighborhood with the Yankees game strapped to my arm without having to constantly unlock my phone or pull it out of my pocket to see what just happened. I just heard Aaron Judge hit a fly ball into left field; how fast can i check the screen to see if someone catches it?
I think one scenario is enough to justify a software feature most of the time, but I’ll share a few more. What if you were kneading dough for your outdoor pizza oven and wanted to watch the Governor’s Debate? Maybe you’re shoveling asphalt during the Indy 500. You’re racing on a track in the morning and loving The Drew Barrymore Show. The elevator is stuck and you need to call maintenance, but it’s late in the fourth quarter and the Giants are down four. Scuba diving during the opening ceremony of the Olympics? Who needs picture-in-picture mode when you can watch The show tonight on your phone and The late show simultaneously on your watch? Oh my, how about you buy one of those little Apple Watch stands that looks like an old Macintosh and watch the US Open on your desk while you work? I would like to keep Emily in Paris play on my portable television while I throw a frisbee on the beach. Forget the predicament of the classic sitcom about the dad who has to go to church during the Big Game. Who says, but maybe having Quibi to watch on your wrist would have saved the streaming service.
The customizable action button on the Apple Watch Ultra would be great for changing channels on a linear TV app like Pluto TV or YouTube TV or rewinding a 30-second video to replay a clip from Apple’s Friday Night Baseball coverage TV Plus.. A hardware button makes it a bit easier to play, pause, fast forward and caption with a small screen. The brighter screen would make it easier to view in bright outdoor environments, like tailgating at a concert. Improved speakers let you watch without your AirPods for family viewing.
While the technology is there, the Apple Watch Ultra still won’t let you do that. Is it because it would diminish the device’s already short battery life for a feature that only a few people would actually use? Is it because Apple wants you to think of the watch as a health device and not a TV? Most likely. But the dream is still alive. There’s a reason someone made a third-party YouTube app for the watch, and I’ve seen some weird, small-screen gadgets that people strap to their wrists. As batteries last longer and processors get faster, we’ve reached the point where TV can be watched anywhere. So it’s time to be able to watch TV on my watch.
#watch #Apple #Watch #Ultra