After finally getting to grips with the much discussed Apple Watch, it’s been nice to cut through the conjecture and find out exactly how it fares in the real world. It has to be said, for something that is literally attached to your body all day every day, the Apple Watch is one of the most unobtrusive devices produced by Apple to date.
The 15 Second Rule
Once you start using the Watch, it’s clear within the first 15 seconds or so that this is not a device intended to be used at length. Just try holding your arm out to look at your watch for 15 seconds and you’ll see what I mean! Where the iPhone draws you in, and invites you to browse and play, the Apple Watch is designed for glances and only gives you the information you need. If you receive a notification, you can look at it, deal with it and then it’s gone. You can reply to the text or check your email without being tempted to “quickly” scroll through your Facebook feed or flick through Instagram.
Notifications and alerts are given to you by a subtle haptic feedback; a gentle tap, tap on your wrist (which they have cleverly named the “taptic engine”). The notification stays on the screen for a few seconds for you to take a look at. Any longer than that and it disappears for you to check on your phone or computer another time. The Apple Watch means you don’t have to carry your phone everywhere with you. Anything I need to know appears on my wrist, everything else can wait. By distancing people from their phones, it feels like Apple are trying to solve the problem they created.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like the iPhone?
You can almost imagine Jony Ive looking around a busy restaurant, seeing families or couples all looking down at their screens instead of talking to each other. It’s hard to imagine anyone would be happy that they’re ultimately responsible for that. It seems as though they have introduced the Apple Watch to allow people time to concentrate on other things, without having the distractions that devices like phones and tablets can cause.
The Next Generation
In terms of how the Apple Watch performs, I was pleasantly surprised. The software is 1st gen, while the hardware feels 2nd gen. What I mean by this is that the hardware appears to be capable of delivering more. This isn’t a criticism of the software, rather a compliment to the design of the Watch itself. The hardware is capable of more than it currently offers including the ability to measure blood oxygen saturation. Apple were waiting on FDA approval to be able to utilise this feature, so it may be that one too many hurdles prevented them from including it. They may however be holding this back for a future software update.
Built to Last?
An explanation for the hidden “diagnostic port” is also yet to be given, again hinting that it could be used in the future. This suggests that the Apple Watch is prepared to be around for a long time. Rather than updating the hardware, users will only need to update the operating system in order to use new features. Another indicator is the high quality, long lasting battery which is housed inside the Apple Watch. The charge cycle of 1000 is double that of an iPhone, meaning that it will need to be replaced or upgraded much less than other devices. It makes you wonder why Apple would go to the trouble of including such a high quality battery in the Watch if they envisioned customers replacing it every couple of years. The Apple Watch is a long term purchase.
Stars and Straps
The interchangeable and designer straps are also a key pointer that Apple intend to keep the hardware for a long time. The straps are becoming a talking point in terms of their fashion status with celebrities and fashionistas proudly showing off their designer bands. Jony Ive even took the Watch’s line of sports bands to Milan Design Week. Some of the straps are priced in the thousands, with the device functionality secondary to the appearance. There is a collectable element to the straps too; the different colours and limited editions could be well sought after in years to come. The Apple Watch itself is made to be kept for a long time, whereas the straps are purposely “fashionable” so as to be changed regularly.
Right on Time
The current apps for Apple Watch aren't anything too ground-breaking. Developers are still figuring out what it is people want from a smart watch. Some of the apps are a little slow, and can be temperamental, however it’s clear the potential is there. The speech recognition software is very impressive (and actually performs better than Siri), and the display is clear and sharp.
Apple have a history of creating innovative and iconic products. If they really have found a way to separate us from our phones, the Apple Watch could be one of the most important pieces of technology the company has ever released.