Why Apple Should Pair the iPod Nano with the iPhone

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Apple has made some significant progress breaking down corporate walls and establishing iOS mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, and even Mac OS X as viable business platforms. One Apple device that isn’t generally thought of as a business tool at all, though, is the iPod. But, with a few tweaks the iPod Nano could be a much more capable device.

To be honest, I never gave the iPod Nano a second thought until I found out it could double as a watch. It has 18 different watch faces ranging from classic, to techno, to Kermit the Frog, and it can be used as a timer or stopwatch. It also does radio, music, podcasts, Nike Fitness, and syncs photos. So, now I have a 16GB iPod Nano on my wrist.

With some modifications, the iPod Nano could display much more than just the time.
Ever since I started wearing it, though, I have been keeping a mental list of the things that would make it better and more functional.

First of all, it needs a speaker. Not a stereo speaker for playing your music or podcasts per se. It just needs a speaker capable of playing an alert tone so when the timer function reaches zero you can actually hear it without having to have headphones on. A speaker would also let you to set an alarm on the iPod Nano--a common function for most watches.

What would really make the iPod Nano better, though, is if it had more features and functionality. There are competing gadget watches like the WiMM, which is built on Android. The WiMM has more potential functionality because it can use Android widgets and mini-apps to provide real-time updates for information like weather or sports scores.

But, rather than building Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity into the iPod Nano, or trying to beef up the OS to make it more like an iPod Touch, I think Apple should borrow a page from RIM’s strategy for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Just add a Bluetooth antenna to the iPod Nano and allow it to be paired to an iPhone so it can act as a sort of terminal for displaying relevant information. The iPhone would do all of the processing and heavy lifting, but the iPod Nano would let you have easy, at-a-glance access to real-time information.

For example, the iPod Nano could pull weather, maps, contacts, calendar events, notes, and reminders from the iPhone via Bluetooth and display them on your wrist. It could also be tied into social network streams to display Facebook updates and Twitter tweets—but you’d still have to switch to the iPhone to reply or add your own updates and tweets.

The iPod Nano could play an audible alarm to alert you when a reminder or calendar event is due. If Apple wanted to go the extra mile, it could include some sort of microphone and let the iPod Nano piggyback on the Siri capabilities of the iPhone. Rather than getting out your iPhone, you could simply ask Siri for directions to the closest Mexican restaurant from the iPod Nano strapped to your wrist, and Siri could pop up the list and deliver the turn-by-turn directions to your “watch”.

I like my iPod Nano “watch” the way it is. But, if Apple could figure out how to link it up to the iPhone and provide more valuable, real-time updates delivered to my wrist, it would be awesome.

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