When Apple introduces new versions of its innovative, popular products, it often highlights design improvements. And though the latest Apple Watch features a new design (longer, at 40 mm, but with a shorter depth), the key differences reflect what users can do by using their wearable devices, that is, the services that it provides.
Since the Apple Watch first appeared in the market, the ways that people use it have guided the new developments that Apple provides in each
new series. In particular, realizing that consumers rely strongly on the devices to help them track their exercise habits, each new iteration has expanded the array of workout trackers available, such as including a yoga function, in addition to tracking time on the treadmill. The latest version is no exception; for example, it provides an automatic workout detection function, so even if a jogger forgets to start a run tracker, the watch starts measuring exertion after about 5 minutes of strenuous activity.
In line with these health-related uses, the Series 4 adds some totally new functionalities that aim to improve people’s well-being. If a user, during the initial process to program the device, indicates that she or he is older than 65 years, the Apple Watch automatically installs a fall detection service. This service also is available for younger users, but they need to turn it on proactively. When the watch detects that someone has fallen, it raises an alert, asking if they need help or are fine. If there is no response after several minutes, it makes a call to 911.
Not only can it solicit emergency medical help, but the Series 4 can provide medical insights on a regular basis. This version includes an electrocardiogram (ECG) function, an app for which Apple earned approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This test is relatively easy to conduct—it determines whether people’s heart rates are too fast, too slow, or irregular by measuring their pulse—but previously has always required a visit to a doctor’s office. By making the test available at any time, simply by wearing a device that users probably would be wearing anyway, this service promises great benefits for people with heart conditions or other medical issues that might create concerns about their cardiovascular functions.
These health- and exercise-related improvements are not the only additions. The new Apple Watch also offers a walkie-talkie function, and it allows for more apps to be displayed on the watch face. Apple promises that the cellular connections are improved as well, though some early adopters indicate that it remains spotty, similar to the service provided by the Series 3, which was the first to offer a cellular link.
1. According to the new elements introduced in the Series 4, how does Apple decide what new services to introduce when it revises this device?
2. Is the Series 4 a new product or a new service? Justify your answer.
Source: David Pierce, “Apple Watch Series 4 First Look: A Medical Wearable in Disguise,” The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2018; Joanna Stern, “Apple Watch Series 4 Review: Why I Finally Fell for this Wearable,” The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2018