The Apple Watch was dreamed up as a revolutionary health-monitoring device that would come equipped with an arsenal of sensors that would make regular doctor checkups almost redundant. Unfortunately, that dream simply wasn’t achievable, even for Apple, due to an array of technological limitations and regulatory concerns. The company is still releasing the Apple Watch, however, so how does the end product compare to the original idea?
When Apple Inc. started developing its smartwatch, executives envisioned a state-of-the-art health-monitoring device that could measure blood pressure, heart activity and stress levels, among other things, according to people familiar with the matter. But none of those technologies made it into the much-anticipated Apple Watch, due in April. Some didn’t work reliably. Others proved too complex. And still others could have prompted unwanted regulatory oversight, these people said. That left Apple executives struggling to define the purpose of the smartwatch and wrestling with why a consumer would need or want such a device. Their answer, for now, is a little bit of everything: displaying a fashion accessory; glancing at information nuggets more easily than reaching for a phone; buying with Apple Pay; communicating in new ways through remote taps, swapped heartbeats or drawings; and tracking daily activity.