There was a time not long ago where the idea of wearable tech really only existed in jokes and in 1950s science fiction films. It wasn’t uncommon to see Captain Kirk use some type of wearable technology on the bridge of the Enterprise, but as a concept it wasn’t necessarily something that people were actually expected to embrace – even in the advanced, tech-rich world of 2014. All of that changed with a few key wearable tech announcements in 2014, suddenly bringing both legitimacy and true excitement to the concept for the first time. Out of all of the wearable tech announcements that happened in 2014, there are a few in particular that have implications for testers.
The Apple Watch
Perhaps the biggest announcement regarding wearable tech in 2014 involves Apple’s foray into this particular section of the market, the Apple Watch. Scheduled to be released in 2015, the Apple Watch most notably features a “digital crown” that is designed to mimic the dial on a traditional watch but allow a user to scroll, zoom and even navigate the device’s touch screen interface. This digital crown also happens to have pretty significant implications for testers, as it is essentially a step in a bold new direction for Apple in general.
All Apple mobile devices released in the last few years have been controlled in the same way – the touch screen interface. Not only do apps and hardware accessories still need to be compatible with the larger iOS ecosystem, but they now have the “X-factor” of this digital crown. The crown is designed to be used in a different way depending on the context, which essentially means redefining core functionality on an as-needed basis.
When testers break out a new piece of wearable technology, they are essentially required to make sure that all aspects are functioning at peak efficiency. One of the main features that Apple and other wearable tech manufacturers emphasized in 2014 was the compatibility of these types of devices with mobile payments. Apple’s Watch natively supports Apple Pay, for example. As a result, just as the hardware itself is bravely moving forward into uncharted territory, so is the software that runs on it. Testers will need to not only familiarize themselves with new and unique wearable tech devices, but will also have to embrace dramatic new concepts like Apple Pay at the exact same time.
Testers Are About to Start Getting Fit
Apple and other wearables manufacturers made no secret in 2014 of the fact that many of their devices had an increased emphasis on the health and well being of the user. Apple’s Watch includes many health related features like a heart rate monitor, for example, and also includes functionality designed to complement the step tracker and other Health Kit features inherent in iOS 8.
These types of features are designed to turn wearable tech less into the personal assistant that something like a smartphone has become and more into a full fledged personal trainer. Have you been running for too long and desperately need a break? Your smart watch will be sure to let you know.
As a result, testing now requires people to put these new health related features through the ringer – which means getting out and getting fit themselves. Ideally, wearable tech is something that you could use to track your progress while you’re out on a morning jog, when you’re training for a marathon and in every situation in between. Perhaps the biggest implication for testers regarding wearable tech is that their job has just become as mobile as the hardware itself.
Another significant development to come along in 2014 for wearable technology can be summed up by two simple words: Android Wear. There are currently six unique watches in the Android Wear collection, each with dozens of different watch faces that users can choose from depending on their tastes.
Android Wear also has significant implications for developers, particularly with regards to location-based functionality. Android Wear devices are designed to be useful throughout all aspects of a person’s day, which essentially turns the testing process into a 24/7 experience. Users can do everything from book dinner reservations, get meeting notifications, see weather and traffic updates and even track fitness routines like running or jogging all from an Android Wear device with voice commands.