When I attended WWDC in 2006, Apple introduced Core Animation. It was a great technology for OS X that allowed to easily create dynamic interfaces. Everyone was wowed by the demos, but nobody was really sure how they could use the technology in their applications. Why? Because the technology had not been developed with the Mac in mind. That became painfully clear in January when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at MacWorld. To this day I blame myself for not understanding what was happening. We had all the facts, we knew that Apple was working on a phone, we knew they were interested in touch technologies and we had seen Core Animation. Yet nobody, including myself, did make the connection.
When Apple introduced the iPhone 5S and its new M7 chip, I remembered what happened in 2006. Something did not sound right. So Apple is adding a new chip to its flagship phone just to allow Nike to develop a new app? Granted, this chip could be used by other companies to develop innovative apps, but I think there is more to it.
Samsung just released a smart watch that is plagued by problems. The most obvious issue is the very limited battery life of the device. That is mainly due to the fact that the watch is a (slow) computer in its own right and that it includes a camera and sensors. The other problem is price, US$300 is quite expensive for a phone accessory. How can a company produce a cheaper, more powerful watch with better battery life? Simply by offloading most of its work to the phone. Could the M7 chip be the sign that Apple is moving closer to releasing a watch based on this design principle?
Most analysts seem to believe that Apple will release a smart watch in the first half of 2014. Nobody expects Apple to release a new iPhone until the second half of the year. That means that if Apple’s rumored smart watch relies on some kind of dedicated hardware it has to be included in the current generation of iPhones. I think that the M7 chip is that dedicated hardware.
I understand that my reasoning could be wishful thinking. I may still be obsessed by my failure to understand why Apple had developed Core Animation. Yes, maybe. On the other hand, the more I think about this, the more sense it makes to me. What do you think?