From Revolution to Evolution: The iPod nano Is Apple’s Most Important Product

the pebble, motoactiv, sony smartwatch, nike fuelband. these have all come out in the past year to provide some type of data to its user, be it fitness info or message alerts. the iPod nano sorta kicked off this most recent idea of putting data on the wrist, the latest evolution which began with the casio wrist calculator and evolving into microsoft’s smart watch. the iPod’s form factor was what lead to its eventual popularity as a wrist-mounted device although its utility is extremely limited in its current form. because of this, other brands have tossed their hats into the ring to provide ever more useful data to potential users and making the idea of a wrist mounted display a worthwhile endeavor.

Apple’s current iPod lineup has arguably begun to stagnate. the lineup received no updates, other than a color refresh to the touch, in the past release cycle. however, with the consumer interest suddenly sparked with the Pebble device on kickstarter, Apple would be wise to take notice of the groundswell and begin a significant change in direction for their iPod lineup; a move away from standalone music devices to a fully integrated device to support their current iOS device strategy. here’s how i see it happening:

the iPod nano’s next release should forgo any desire to integrate a still camera since it’s both too small for worthwhile photography or easy to use. instead, let’s maintain the current form factor but load it up with Bluetooth 4.0 technology and make it a fully compliant Smart Ready device. give it AirPlay functionality, A2DP, and AVCRP capability. the low drain of Bluetooth 4.0 will give it all day battery life while allowing it to pair with the iPhone or iPad.

with AirPlay, you could leave your iPhone concealed in your bag or purse and stream your music collection or apps like Pandora to your wrist mounted nano. you could plug your nano into any stereo with its headphone jack, converting any wired system into an AirPlay compatible system. also maintain the current storage on the nano, and owners without iPhones can still use it as the standalone music player as it always has been. one can also clip it to their shirt or jacket and with a set of headphones it becomes a wireless bluetooth headset with A2DP functionality and AVCRP allows it to remotely control your listening experience.

with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready, you can connect to receive email, call, and sms alerts on your iPod nano, wirelessly, when paired to your iPhone or iPad. even with its current display, you could not only preview, but also read complete texts, emails, and status updates from internet based apps like Facebook or Twitter. even more important is the ability to respond and post updates without your iPhone at all: when paired over Bluetooth, the iPod nano could leverage the power of Siri Dictation and allow the user to reply to sms & email or update your status verbally.

instead of a worthless still camera, integrate a FaceTime camera into the front of the device. with Bluetooth 4.0’s fast data rate paired to an iPhone, you could carry on a FaceTime call from your iPod nano. suddenly the future past of Dick Tracy comes alive, and cheaply since all of the heavy lifting is built into the iPhone rather than the iPod nano. in addition to FaceTime, an iPod nano clipped to a jacket can provide users with a way to document their travels with time lapse photography controlled remotely.

all of this can be done without significant cost increase for the iPod nano. integration of Bluetooth is already managed to provide Nike+ functionality built in and therefore any effect on internal space is negligible. the camera module for the iPhone and iPod touch already show that providing a front-facing FaceTime camera is quite possible within the limited space constraints of the nano. furthermore, by leveraging the power of Bluetooth 4.0, all of the heavy lifting is done by a connected iPhone rather than the nano itself.

AirPlay, FaceTime, untethered stereo headset, remote control, remote alerts, Siri dictation: these could be the features of the next iPod nano. i would be surprised if Apple isnt already planning to release these features in the next generation nano. if they arent, they may as well kill off the iPod lineup as other manufacturers will manage to use the next year to create the right product, making it near impossible for Apple to reclaim the market. Apple’s wrist-capable nano clearly showed the consumer demand is there for a wrist mounted device.

it just requires an innovative company to create a device that leverages the power of the smartphone to create something easy to use and useful. with Siri, AirPlay, and Bluetooth 4.0, Apple owns the technology to create a wrist-mounted device that can truly become mainstream.

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