9 year old Utah boy uses smartwatch to escape kidnapper

This is an interesting story. It’s not about Apple Watch, and it’s from three years ago. Watch the video, embedded below.

At the heart of the story is a Gizmo smartwatch, specifically designed for kids. It sells for about $170.

What I find interesting about this watch is its incredibly simple design. It lets a child make and receive phone calls, but only to and from a specified list of phone numbers, a list that their parents set up and edit.

There’s a location tracker, presumably only available to their parents. And there’s a geofence, alerting parents when the watch leaves a specific location. So if the fence is set up to the grounds of a child’s school, the parents receive an alert if the child leaves that area.

There’s more to the Gizmo, but you get the idea. Now on to my point.

I’d like to see Apple add a mode like this to watchOS. All of the capabilities above exist already in watchOS. Imagine a starter Apple Watch with these limitations, perfect for a child, but also perfect for an elderly user, or for someone with limitations that might make it difficult to navigate the full watchOS.

And, while we’re at it, how about a similar, limited version of iPadOS? One with very large icons, and customizable. Boot it, and the only icons that show up are the ones it is set up with. And each of the icons can drive an editable shortcut. The shortcut might make a phone call to a specific person. Or send a text message. Or anything.

My mom is legally blind, and all the existing solutions in the Apple ecosystem are too complex for her to manage. She feels cutoff, but she’s smart, and eager for some solution she can manage. A limited Apple Watch or iPad would be a real blessing for her.