Apple’s first smartwatch is called… Apple Watch. It’s a wearable device which you can pair with an iPhone to run apps on your wrist. It also functions as a fitness tracker, and of course… a watch.
But this isn’t just a tiny iPhone that hangs out on your wrist. Instead the Apple Watch has an entirely new user interface designed for small screens and a new tool for interacting with them: a dial on the side of the watch called a Digital Crown that you can tap or turn to navigate.
Pressing the Digital Crown brings you to the home screen, while moving the dial lets you do things like navigate through a list of apps or zoom in and out of maps.
There’s also a button below the crown that you can tap to bring up your contacts to communicate with your friends… in new ways, such as drawing on the screen.
The Apple Watch also has a pressure-sensitive touchscreen that can detect not only taps, but also the amount of force you’re putting on the screen.
Like Google’s Android Wear platform, Apple Watch also supports voice features. Press and hold the Digital Crown and it brings up Siri, which you can use to ask questions and receive answers on your wrist.
You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access “Glances,” which you can scroll between by swiping left or right. These provide quick access to information such as upcoming appointments, map locations, and music playback controls that let you play, pause, or skip tracks on your other Apple devices.
Hardware and design
The watch has sensors that can track your heart rate, distance, and other movement and health stats and the watch is powered by a custom processor called the S1.
Apple says its watch is highly customizable and it will be available with a variety of wrist straps and digital watch faces. There will be 6 different interchangeable straps including leather. polymer, and metal straps.
The Apple Watch actually comes in multiple sizes — there’s a smaller 1.5 inch version that works with smaller straps for folks who find the basic 1.65 inch Apple Watch too big.
The watch itself also comes in 3 versions. Apple Watch Sport has an aluminum case, Apple Watch Edition has an 18k gold case, and the basic Apple Watch has a stainless steel case.
Each model uses a wireless MagSafe style charger so there are no ports on the watch.
Apple Watch also includes NFC and it will work with Apple Pay, just like the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. This lets you use the watch like a digital wallet to pay for goods at over 200,000 stores that support touchless payment.
In fact, while older iPhones don’t support Apple Pay because they don’t feature NFC hardware, you can pair an Apple Watch with an iPhone 5 or later and use the watch to make mobile payments.
Apple is launching WatchKit, a platform that lets developers create apps that can show up on the Apple Watch home screen.
Initial apps including running software from Nike, social apps from companies like Twitter, a Honeywell app that lets you adjust your home thermostat, and a Starwood Hotels app that lets you unlock your hotel room door when you wave your hand by it.
Apple is also playing up the watch’s fitness-tracking capabilities with new Fitness and Activities apps that come pre-loaded.
Personally I prefer a fitness tracker I can attach to my belt, because wrist-worn trackers don’t count steps I take while working at my treadmill desk because my legs are moving while my hands stay in place at a keyboard. But I’m a weirdo with a treadmill desk. I suspect most folks would rather have a watch-and-fitness tracker in one device instead of separate devices for each.
Tim Cook says he also uses his Apple Watch to control video playback on his Apple TV, other Apple employees use theirs as remote viewfinders for iPhone cameras or as walkie talkies.
Pricing and Availability
The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to work, and it’ll support iPhone 5 or later.
Apple says it’ll be available early next year for $349 and up.
It’s not expensive enough. I’ll pass…
For all the little trick hidden in the software, this watch comes down more as a toy than a useful smartwatch. The main way to operate the UI is not trivial at all, you have to shake, poke, swipe, “hard press” to get to the basic functions, and these seems to change in every app, where to swipe and press what to get to a function. During the demo we barely saw any useful function, instead they showed us the 3D smiley face, you can poke and will close it’s eye, an app to send your heartbeat (how often will you do that?), a way to draw on a 1.5″ screen, a seriously overcrowded UI, that operates with such small icons, you’ll need your reading glasses to tell the time. Or to fly to the Moon. As the watchfaces have those easter eggs, where you click somewhere and something unexpected (but totally useless) animation happen. It’s so… Chinese… (and apparently the battery time is 1 day, the screen is not always on, and we’ll see how well it performs under direct sunlight)
I got to the point in the article where the price was noted as $349 and up. That’s when a little bit of vomit came up into my mouth. Seriously , what.
My word that is an ugly piece of kit.
I am surprised by the appearance. Apple is so meticulous to make their products simple and beautiful. The “Digital Crown” is so big and off center. Unless they’re planning on putting a fingerprint scanner in it in the future, there’s no reason it needs to be so big. My regular watch has a dial a fraction of that size that accepts push and turn. If they had centered the digital crown, made it much smaller, and put the button on the other side, then I would consider it a nice looking watch. Aesthetically, the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R are much nicer looking. Ugliness aside, it does have some interesting features and some of the bands are cool. I’m also puzzled as to why they didn’t go with the expected “iWatch” name. iWatch rolls off the tongue a lot nicer than Apple Watch. “Apple Watch” sounds like an Apple fanboy website.
I expected more from Apple. There are already a few Android watches that look much better than this one. Has Apple finally lost it’s mojo?
They lost it a while ago.
“You can glance up from the bottom of the screen to access “Glances,” …” Did you mean “swipe” up? Or does it track eye movement?
I’m surprised Apple announced this so far ahead of the release.
It seems rather chunky. I guess that leaves room for slimming in future versions.
Are the different sizes like for men and women?
Most reviews of the Galaxy Gear 1 & 2 asked if smartwatches in general offered enough benefit to warrant their cost. I can guarantee that won’t be asked of the Apple Watch. Already, reviewers are running out of superlatives to lay on this new Apple product. Its so sad.
All these look more like a product in search of a market or just an attempt to juice sales in a world where most people who wanted a smartphone now have one and the new models don’t offer a compelling reason to upgrade every two years anymore.
To interest me in one they would first have to convince me to wear a watch again, I gave up the practice almost a decade ago. One I’d have to remember to charge nightly would be a non-starter and just the radios in these will demand nightly charging.
The next frontier is going to be eyewear, not watches. But the battery problem is even worse there so we are just going to have to content ourselves with phones and tablets for a few more years until the hardware tech catches up with the imaginations of the software developers.
Aren’t all Apple products designed to create markets (“we’ll show YOU what you want”)?
This is like a luxury item for iPhone buyers who aren’t content with just the iPhone. “Shut up and take my money!” LOL
The display is the battery hog, not the radios. With Bluetooth 4.0 LE I easily get 7 days out of my Pebble with weather updates to the watch every 15 minutes and about 25 push notifications per day on average.
It looks positively huge, like the android watches. And no battery time even hinted at? I think i’ll skip the first generation. 🙂
I could swear that I read somewhere that it’ll last a day, but don’t remember where.
I thought, OK now putting a wrist strap on a 6th gen iPod nano was just too silly for Apple to take seriously. When they come out with a watch it will be much more watch-like and probably round. But this is almost as big and square!
” It’s a wearable device which you can pair with an Android phone to run apps on your wrist.” <– I think you meant with an Apple phone. 🙂
Though the whole device seems so much like all the android watches that hey, maybe Apple did slip up and it still pairs with Android. 😀
They went too far with the copying of Android Wear devices.
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