Apple’s Healthkit trademark doesn’t tell us jack about its smartwatch plans

PCWorld | Aug 7, 2014

The Timex Ironman One GPS+. Pebble's new smartwatch colors. Apple's immaterial trademark protections. Jon Phillips tackles them all in Episode 12 of Wearables Right or Wrong?

Wearables Right or Wrong? Apple’s latest Healthkit trademark application doesn’t tell us jack about the company’s smartwatch plans.
That’s right.
So Healthkit is Apple’s platform for marrying health and fitness data to mobile devices and third-party apps. We’ve known about it since June, but now Apple is filing for Healthkit trademark protection in the US and Europe. And here’s the kicker: The European trademark application has named “watches, clocks and timepieces” as devices Healthkit might be used for.

Well, there you have it. Apple is pairing Healthkit with watches. Ipso facto, the iWatch is coming soon. But there’s a problem here. These trademark applications are insanely broad. They’re designed to protect every use case imaginable, and in fact, Apple has also designated dog whistles, decorative magnets and electrically heated socks as products that could defensibly own the Healthkit trademark.

In other words: Do not look to trademark applications for reliable details on Apple’s roadmap.

Wearables Right or Wrong? Pebble’s new smartwatch colors are kind of a big deal.
That’s wrong.

Pebble just announced three new colors -- Fresh Green, Hot Pink, and Fly Blue. These are fun day-glo designs that look perfectly at home on a $150 watch. The colors match the price tag, and that’s an honest approach to wearable aesthetics.

But, c’mon guys, this is just a cosmetic upgrade. Sure, the new colors keep Pebble’s name in the news, and that’s critical when Android Wear is dominating the headlines. But as Google’s OS builds momentum, Pebble will need to amaze us with new software features. Hot Pink is pretty, but Pebble needs a game-changer, especially once Android Wear watches improve battery life and outdoor visibility.

Wearables Right or Wrong? The new Timex Ironman isn’t even a smartwatch.
That’s right.

Everyone is describing the Ironman One GPS+ as a smartwatch, but at best I would call it a sports watch with a few smart functions. It’s got GPS which is great for tracking workouts, but it doesn’t do any smartphone notifications. Now it does have email and messaging, but these are handled by a 3G connection that’s completely separate from your existing data plan. I think this could invite a lot of confusion where you have some conversations on your watch, and some on your phone, with a whole lot of syncing nightmares in between.

I definitely think there’s a market for gadgets like the Ironman, and it’s cool to see traditional watch companies explore smart features. But instead of celebrating this gadget as a smartwatch, we should be focusing on what makes this watch truly interesting. Timex is using Qualcomm’s Mirasol display, which helps save battery life. It’s technology we need to see in Android Wear watches as quickly as possible.