Apple introduces Apple Watch

Rick Otto

Apple today introduced the iPhone 6 along with Apple Pay.  Then Apple announced that they had "one more thing' to announce.  This was their rumored smartwatch, the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is syncronized with the universal time standard meaning it'll be a very precise timepiece.  It also has a variety of customizable faces.  It can be used to connect and communicate with others.  It also has health and fitness sensors built in making it the perfect health and fitness companion. 

Apple designed an entirely new user interface for the smaller screen of a watch.  One thing that Apple did is bring the crown, the dial that's been available on watches for decades, to a smartwatch.  The only thing that's changed is it's now called the digital crown.  The digital crown can be used to control many features of the watch.  For example by turning the digital crown you can zoom in and out.  You can also use it to scroll through a list.  You can also switch between the home screen and the clock by pressing the digital crown.  Apple has also brought an innovative way of charging a device to the Apple Watch.  It can be charged using inductive charging meaning that there are no cables to plug and unplug. 

Apple also made an emphasis on style with the watch.  There's 6 different straps available and they are easily interchangeable.  There are straps available for different uses such as a leather loop for when you want something for dressing up that is comfortable and also there's a sports band for when you're working out.  The various straps are also available in multiple colors.  Apple also realized that one size won't fit all.  For this reason there's also the availability of a smaller Apple Watch with smaller matching straps. 

Due to the various cases and straps Apple has created 3 distinct collections.  These are the basic Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.  The Apple Watch is a polished case, the Apple Watch Sport collection has a stronger case but yet is light and durable.  Apple Watch Edition is made from 18K gold. 

On the software end the device is impressive.  When viewing the app screens the clock is front and center.  Yet Apple said you can arrange the apps however you'd like.  You can swipe in all directions to view the apps on your device.  You can also rotate the crown to zoom out and view all of your apps.  You can also tap on an area to get a closeup of the neighborhood of apps.  You simply tap on an app to launch it.  When you're done using an app you simply swipe down to exit it. 

Apple put a lot of effort into figuring out how to best use the Apple Watch to communicate and access your friends.  They came up with something called Digital Touch.  There is a button just below the digital crown.  When pressing that you access Digital Touch and are able to view your friends.  You can tap on a friend to communicate.  You then have the option to make a phone call or message your friend.   You can also use Digital Touch though.  With Digital Touch you are able to touch and draw on the screen.  For example you can come up with your own way of communicating.  You can draw a question mark if you have a question about something that's communicated to you.  You can simply tap if that's your code for wanting to go out for dinner. 

There's a variety of apps available for the Apple Watch.  This includes a wide variety of 3rd party apps and Apple's own apps.  For example you are able to listen to music on the Apple Watch.  You can also view your photos on the watch.  The Maps application is also provided on the Apple Watch. The watch also includes notifications and there's a very subtle vibration of the watch when there's a notification.  If you wish to view a notification you simply raise your wrist and the notification will be shown.  You can also respond to notifications directly on the screen.  The watch is also greatly enhanced with the availability of Siri. 

Developers are able to use WatchKit to develop apps using the features and abilities of the Apple Watch.  Companies will likely find innovative ways of using the watch.  For example American Airlines will be using it.  You'll simply tap on your watch to check-in.  Starwood Hotels is using it to allow you to unlock your door by waving your watch in front of the door.  BMW is using it to help you find directions back to your car if you forgot where you parked. 

Apple said they have been working on the Apple Watch for a long time.  It is the first introduction of a new product category since the iPad was introduced. One downside with the Apple Watch is that it requires an iPhone in order to use most of it's features.  Yet this is also the case with many smartwatches from competitors but this is sure to upset some potential buyers.  It'll work with both the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and fortunately it will also work with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s.   It would be nice for it to be able to work completely on it's own but this would require additional hardware that is hard to fit into the small case of a watch.  Also, it would increase the already high price.  For example the watch doesn't have a GPS but is able to use the GPS in your iPhone.  The two devices work well together.  For example there's a feature called handoff.  You can start reading an email on your watch and then move over to your iPhone to respond to that same email.  Apple emphasized that it'll work with Apple Pay and everything that's needed for Apple Pay is built into the watch.

It is important to remember that this is only a first generation device though.  There's little doubt that with a future version as hardware gets cheaper and smaller that there will be the ability for it to function 100% on it's own. Yet it will definitely still work well with other Apple devices. 

The Apple Watch was only announced today and is not yet available for purchase.  It will become available in early 2015 and will start at $349.99.


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