It’s about time…

Will the first new prod­uct cat­e­gory from Ap­ple in four years kick the wear­ables mar­ket into over­drive?

Australian T3 - - RADAR -

theaple­wat chcould­well be the yard­stick by which Tim Cook’s ten­ure as the company’s CEO is mea­sured. Ap­pear­ing on the Flint Cen­ter stage at the launch event in Cu­per­tino sport­ing the firm’s first all-new tech cre­ation since his pre­de­ces­sor Steve Jobs passed, Cook ex­plained why the Watch – there’s no “i” in New Team Ap­ple, and none in this prod­uct’s name ei­ther – is “the most per­sonal prod­uct we’ve ever made”.

You can see why: this thing is a cus­tomisea-thon. There are three ver­sions of the Ap­ple Watch, from the sweat-swat­ting Sport to the show-offy, 18-karat-gold Edi­tion, with a se­ries of swap­pable straps and screen sizes. While smart­watches to date have been one­off, quickly it­er­ated prod­ucts, this is a new col­lec­tion, in the fash­ion sense of the word.

The rest of its ar­moury is a tad more fa­mil­iar, with the Watch sens­ing when you’ve raised your wrist to ac­ti­vate the screen. No­ti­fi­ca­tions come through as vi­bra­tions and you can con­trol your mu­sic through it, too. Need­less to say, it spends much of its time track­ing your ac­tiv­ity via a pulse mon­i­tor, ac­celerom­e­ter and gy­ro­scope, although with no GPS on board, you’ll need your iPhone on you for more pro-like fit­ness pur­suits.

That’s right: when Cook says the Ap­ple Watch is de­signed to work “seam­lessly with iPhone”, he means it. While much of the wrist­piece’s func­tion­al­ity is avail­able while your hand­set’s left at home, you do very much need one as a hub for its ser­vices, which is un­der­stand­able, if a bit of a shame.

Where it gets Ap­ple-ier was ex­plained to us at the event by Sir Jony “voice of God” Ive. The Watch’s hap­tic touch­screen in­ter­prets your in­ter­ac­tion based on how hard you tap, while a mic means that Siri is also on­board, CIA-style. Maps, mean­while, of­fers the di­rec­tions and lo­ca­tion search­ing via di­rec­tional vi­bra­tions, so you don’t ac­tu­ally need to look at the screen.

Yet the curved sap­phire-glass dis­play is not the pri­mary means of in­put: that’s the “dig­i­tal crown”, which sub­verts the tra­di­tional win­der into a nav tool and home but­ton. Rather than use your podgy fin­gers to pinch and zoom on its tiny face, you ro­tate the dial for zoom­ing, scrolling and more. Just what the ex­tent of that may be, though, is in the hands of the devs… From $349, Ap­ple.com/au/watch, out spring 2015

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