In an intriguing development which suggests that tech firms are interested in exploring how suitable wearables will be for accessing digital content, news has broken that Apple has been permitting a select few to come in and test their apps on the Apple Watch ahead of the device’s launch – right inside its top secret Apple Watch lab at the Cupertino HQ
The companies identified by Bloomberg include Facebook, BMW and United Continental Holdings, and the move definitely makes sense – companies are keen to test out their wares on the device to ensure their apps run smoothly come the Big Day, an outcome that doesn’t only reflect well on the software makers themselves, but on Apple’s hardware, too. If the much-awaited launch of the smartwatch ends up being bedevilled by performance glitches, its reputation will be soundly bludgeoned before it’s hit the shelves.
The Bloomberg report describes Apple’s lab as “shut off from communication with the outside world.” And it certainly is: visitors can’t even bring in a pencil and pad of paper, let alone a smartphone. Amongst the other extreme measures it’s taken to keep its latest brainchild secret is the total blocking of internet access within the rooms and a ban on outside materials. That means that the companies invited in have to bring source code for their apps on a computer hard drive that then won’t be permitted to leave the HQ. The code will be stored by Apple and sent to the companies closer to the device’s introduction date. That’s some seriously heavy security.
The Apple Watch is the first new device from Apple since the iPad debuted five years ago, and the sophistication of the apps will by crucial for enticing buyers. Tools for the device will play a big role in determining how customers use it and whether they think it’s worth buying in the first place. It also seems likely that there will be a seamless integration with the iPhone – anything less is almost guaranteed to put buyers off.
What we do know for certain is the optimism about Apple’s new products has boosted the company’s share process to surreal heights in recent weeks, and the Apple Watch has played a big part in this. The stakes, it would seem, are very high indeed – what goes up can come down.