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This is how it goes: Apple releases a new world-changing gadget, and then computer geniuses get to work twisting it to their own ends. It’s called jailbreaking.
“Jailbreak” is merely a term for liberating a piece of electronics from the manufacturer’s restrictions. It’s a word most commonly attached to the iPhone, which is prevented from running any software that’s not specifically approved by Apple and available in the App Store. Jailbreaking will void your warranty, but it’s tempting because the iPhone can do far more than Apple is willing to let it do — the company is famously possessive of what it lets into its “walled garden.” And even though it’s not out yet, the same will be true for the Apple Watch.
The watch will do plenty of things consumers want, but it will be sorely lacking when it comes to the next level of functionality that people will want after they’ve exhausted its factory capabilities. Here’s our wishlist for what we want to see in the hacks that will be very unsanctioned by Apple, but made very possible by a few renegade programmers.
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1. A web browser. The Apple Watch doesn’t have one. Repeat: there is no ability to browse the Internet from the Apple Watch. Surely someone will hack together a way to run Safari from your wrist once the device is jailbroken.
2. Playing music from the watch’s internal speaker. Why should Apple be able to decide how and where we hear our jams? The quality might not be great, but this would be an easy and practical hack for quickly sharing a sample of a song with friends.
3. Custom watch faces. Apple only lets you select from a certain number of pre-approved graphic dials to tell you what time it is. There are bound to be far more exciting options to be dreamed up by designers and coders eager to show off new and fun ways to display the time. For an example of what’s possible, you only need to look at how others are telling time on the Pebble, an alternative smartwatch that’s been out for much longer than the Apple Watch.
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4. Native apps. Despite how it may appear, the Apple Watch doesn’t actually run any apps within its own circuitry — it is only ever receiving data from your iPhone. Imagine what could be possible if users were allowed to take advantage of the processor embedded within the watch. It becomes closer to a stand-alone computing device, which is where the smartwatch is ultimately heading.
5. Better control over battery-hogging features. The following is not a secret: Battery life on the Apple Watch sucks. It barely makes it a day, and if you find yourself using it often, you’ll never make it a full 24 hours on a charge. Some able-minded programmer will build something down the road that will let you disable various battery-taxing features to enable your watch battery to last much longer than it does when running in its default settings.
Hang in there and keep your eye on the news for word when Apple’s latest miracle gadget gets its jailbreak — it’s only going to make it into that much more of a miracle.