Hello Digital Crown
So what was the revolutionary announcement made by Apple on Tuesday evening? The Apple Watch? iPhone6? Apple Pay service? Nope.
After years of speculation, many commentators have been underwhelmed by Apples entry into the new wearables technology sector. Sure, the new Apple Watch looks like an 6th gen iPod Nano with a wrist strap, however there’s one small detail that not only sets it apart from the Nano watch, it is also unique amongst all current smartwatches – the Digital Crown.
Remember all the mp3 players before the iPod? The interface was controlled by pressing tiny arrow keys. It made scrolling though thousands of songs pretty much useless. Then the iPod introduced the click wheel and hey presto, the iPod takes over the world.
From my perspective, the Digital Crown is to the Smart Watch as the Click Wheel was to the mp3 player – a revolution. The digital crown is a simple dial on the side of the watch that allows you to select options on the screen by spinning and clicking. You would be right to say it’s obvious, after all, for decades watches have used a crown as the only means to adjust them. So why was this overlooked my all other smartwatch manufactures?
The truth is a Digital Crown may seem simple, but to turn it into a functional and useful smartphone input device is a significant challenge. As Tim Cook points out, the Apple Digital Crown includes “infrared LEDs and photodiodes that translate rotary movement into digital data”. Sounds impressive, however I’m not confident it will be a success until I get to try this new input device out for myself.
No doubt future versions of the Apple Watch will be less iPod Nano like. They will surely be thinner, smaller and rounder. So will the Digital Crown prove to be the mouse of the next decade? Only time will tell.