Apple’s finally entered the world of wearable’s. And after dozens of failed smartwatches, can the Apple Watch be the answer to the problem?
Officially unveiled at Apple’s fall media event in Cupertino, Calif., alongside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Apple Watch (not iWatch) may well be one of the most anticipated products of recent years. It will be available in “early 2015” starting at $349 in the US, with prices elsewhere yet to be announced (a rough conversion would be £220 or AU$380).
This is Apple’s first all-new product category in years, since the original iPad in 2010. And, it’s yet another entry into the smartwatch world, a landscape that’s suddenly exploded. Here’s what we know about it so far, and what it felt like during our brief hands-on time with it at Apple’s 9/9 preview event.
Finally after a long wait, Apple has launched the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch looks very impressive. The watch will come in 2 sizes so it won’t feel giant on smaller hands, as some competing watches do. Apple also introduced their 18-karat gold edition Apple Watch which is quite expensive. The home screen has all your apps, arranged in rows like a honeycomb. You use the dial to zoom in and choose one. The touch screen lets you slide the honeycomb around to see different portions of your app collection. I find this easier than swiping on a small screen to scroll through pages and pages of apps. With the Apple Watch, you can even rearrange apps so that your favorite ones are toward the middle. Apple announced a few useful apps for the watch, including the ability to unlock your Starwood hotel room with a tap of your watch. That’s easier than pulling out your room key from your wallet. BMW also promises one to help you find your parked car in a crowded lot. If it works, that beats walking around in circles. That’s an awesome thing. The Apple Watch will require an iPhone 5 or later. The Digital Crown is essentially a scroll wheel that lets you zoom in and out of the interface, so for apps it’s a new way of doing things. Finally the Apple Watch is a device that many will want to own with the iPhone 6, as the stylings match really well. The Apple Watch is quite a good start for the company.
When the iPad first debuted, many demeaned it as either a “big iPhone” or a keyboardless laptop, but it managed to stake out its own ground. The Apple Watch will enter the same skeptical marketplace, with an even harder case to make: If it’s essentially a dedicated smartphone accessory, is it just a redundant gadget? A lot of people might wonder why they need it.
For fitness-lovers who want a smart connected workout device that plays music, the Apple Watch could be a slam dunk. For others, Apple will need to prove how good its watch can be at what it does, much like what the iPad had to do. If it’s great, and its design appeals to enough people, the Apple Watch could catch on. But those services, and the app infrastructure to make them work, will take time. And we will still don’t know how good it is as a fitness device. If Apple nails these all, then it could be the best smartwatch by far. We’ll see next year. Right now, all we’ve really gotten to see is a polished design, a brief interface demo, and a lot of optimism. Stay tuned till 2015.