The future of wearable technology made its debut during the release of the iPhone 6 the other day and the world finally had its first look at the Apple Watch, made to interface directly with your iPhone 6 or the 3 versions of the iPhone 5. When it was unveiled officially, it got a standing ovation from all those lucky enough to attend big Apple Event.
Here, we will go over some of the many features that are available to you and an opinion on whether it is worth all the hype at the end. Is the Apple Watch something you want to add to your wardrobe or like the Google Glass, will you let it pass?
The Apple Watch comes in 3 different collections, The Apple Watch Collection, The Sport collection and the Apple Edition Collection. The Apple Watch will come in two sizes and 6 different strap designs for each collection. Apple has introduced a specialized mechanism that allows for easy switching of the different watchbands, which also locks the iWatch firmly to each band.
So whatever your style, mood, or activity, there is now an Apple Watch that will match it.
Let’s take a look at some of the Apple Watches key features:
The Synthetic Crystal Screen means it will last longer than your regular watch
The first of many selling points of this product is of course the super-hard display that will withstand almost anything except an asteroid strike. This feature will convince many to buy, because perceived durability in this $349 device is seen as a drawing point for the fitness crowd. The CPU is sealed to make it more robust and able to stand up to hard usage. The inductive charge means you never have to open the unit or make any physical connections to charge it.
The primary control is a unique Digital crown
In the old days, you used the crown to set time and date or to wind your watch. With Apple’s version, you can do so much more as it is the primary selection method to go through the various features of the Apple Watch. One of its chief advantages is that you don’t obscure the screen while you are selecting the functions you want to use.
Using infrared LEDs and photo-diodes to translate rotary motion into a digital control signals that allows for smooth transitions through the watch’s various functions.
It also features standard touch screen interfacing to allow you to select items on the screen. So, for such a small product it has quite a sophisticated set of control features.
Health is the main function
The Apple Watch’s design and marketing is designed for the health and fitness market and to that, the device seems to work flawlessly with built-in sensors that monitor your heart rate and activity levels.
It can link up to your iPhone’s GPS and has built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to tell you how far you have moved and it can even map out your route for your daily run. You can also share this information with other Apple Watch wearers with a simple tap of the finger.
All together there are 10 different sensor elements are monitoring you, your location, and your activity level. There is a 3rd party API released to developers to build apps that will take advantage of the new S1 processor, which is billed as a complete computer on a chip.
The workout App lets you set your fitness goals and workout schedule, while a second App monitors where you have been, where you are going, and your activities for the day. Other health related apps are said to be forthcoming but none were demonstrated for during Apple’s Dog and Pony show. Which is understandable as the release date is now set for 2015.
Siri interfacing with your iPhone 6
You can talk to Siri and perform functions on the Apple Watch as well as control your iPhone 6. This might remind you of the days Dick Tracy, except the Apple Watch has functions that Tracy never could have imagined.
The Apple Watch will give a selection of possible replies to messages based on your past history of communicating. So, over time your iPhone and your Apple Watch will start taking on your personality in your social media and will create and respond to messages, as you normally would yourself. This could make you redundant in the conversation, as the devices will be able converse without you. This opens up a future world, where you are not sure if you are talking to a person or their Siri AI persona.
You can get your location and find out about the music you are listening to and you can send an email or update to your Social Media, all while you are jogging, working out, or exercising at your local gym.
The only thing missing is a built in webcam to give you a fully functional Dick Tracy two-way communicator. Even Captain Kirk never had it so good, except the Apple Watch won’t beam you up, yet.
The Apple Watch is designed to give you tactile feedback based on the various functions you are using. If you are walking, the Apple Watch will let you know when you should turn and change direction. The tactile sensation is different, so you know exactly which way to turn. You can send tap messages on the screen and send nonverbal communications to your friends and colleges.
This is similar to the Asian WeChat feature of shaking your smart phone to send a message or acknowledgment. However, the Taptic technology is more elegant. You can be in a business meeting or at a party and receive private messages and no one else is even aware that you are holding a silent conversation. You can send graphical images that you draw on the screen as well, to add more meaning to your communication traffic.
Taptic tactile messaging has many business applications as well as a large variety for Social Media Management.
In the old Doc Savage Pulp novels, Doc and his crew keep in touch using a similar method where infrared heat sent the message to the back of your wrist in Morse code. It’s only taken 50 or so years to make this form of messaging a reality in the 21st century.
Some mundane features and some unusual ones as well
The Apple Watch also has some of the more ordinary features that you would expect such as calendaring and one that isn’t so mundane is it also keeps track of what you have been doing and where you have been. This has possibilities both good and bad. One good item is that you can see what you’ve been up to during the day.
However, it also raises a host of privacy issues and legal ramifications. Is your Apple Watch admissible in a court of law as an alibi or could the prosecution subpoena it?
1984 has already come and gone. The NSA now reads all our Net traffic. How long before they have access to our iPhones and Apple Watches to see where we are and who is nearby?
The Apple Watch has mapping, which is expected if it is to guide you to a destination. The Siri interface works seamlessly and will change how many people do business, with voice to text, Voice control, and predictive typing.
There however was no mention of NFC or iBeacon and just a quick blurb about Apple pay. The eBill payment through the Apple Watch, would be a good sales feature for the product.
It has two nice apps for the home that lets you control your home’s temperature and another to control the lighting. This was to be expected as articles describing these features have been out there since the Smartphones have been released to the public.
Things that weren’t mentioned
There were allusions to a mile long list of addition features for the Apple Watch. However, nothing concrete was said. In fact, the entire iWatch presentation ran just a little over 6 minutes. What was emphasized was that the Apple Watch needs to be linked to you iPhone, which means this is not a standalone product.
This was a bit of a surprise, because all the hype up until this point was saying the product could function independently from an iPhone. This was a bit disappointing. There also seems to be little available on the mile long list of other features.
Searching the web turns up information and rumors from a year ago and after examining them, it shows just how far off many of the predictions were. The curved screen that was to have been a key selling point was not in evidence with the unit shown in the presentation.
Unless you are heavy into fitness and require a babysitter to remind you to do your exercise, most of the other functionality is already in the iPhone itself and by Apple’s own admission; you require an iPhone to get full functionality out of the product. Apple purists will probably not want to hear this but there really is not that much in the way of advantage to owning the Apple Watch,
Most of the fitness options can be had from other products at a fraction of the cost that $349 buys you when you purchase the Apple Watch. Which is about a third again higher than was the $150 – $200 price range announced earlier this year.
The Apple Watch is a marvel of technology and as demonstrated does, all of its functions as advertised. With that said, by the time it will be released there will be at least 4 other competing products out there on the market from the other makers of wearable tech.
This raises concerns that the product will be obsolete by the time it gets out the door. At the end of the day, the Apple Watch is a great product with many features that are innovative. But when you get right down to it, the Apple Watch is a high tech wristwatch that is made for the fashion conscious among us.