It’s about time…
Will the first new product category from Apple in four years kick the wearables market into overdrive?
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