Hands-on with the new Apple Watch
We dispatched Gareth Beavis from our sister site TechRadar to Cupertino. Does the Apple Watch tick all the right boxes?
While I expected it to have a round face like a traditional watch, the Apple Watch actually looks like a shrunk-down blend of an iPhone 6 and iPod nano. It’s not unattractive, but it is a little chunky. It’s rounded at the sides, which works in its favour, and the very slightly curved back makes it feel pleasant, if a little heavy (depending on the band) on the wrist.
The Edition, um, edition is a properly heavy device on the wrist. It’s one that will look great but feel like you’ve spent a thousand dollars on it. (Actually, given we don’t know the price of this 18-carat gold and sapphire watch, that might not be too far off…)
The interface is curious, but I really think Apple has done better than most with the way it’s approached interacting with a wrist-dwelling device. The Digital Crown on the side is essentially a scroll wheel that lets you zoom in and out of the interface, so for apps (with a fun new home screen that looks nothing like the iPhone’s version, more a rolling, spherical look at all the apps available on the watch), it’s a new way of doing things.
The spherical interface is going to take some getting used to. The demos I saw showed a slightly tricky method of hitting the right area to open the app you want, leading to having to use the Digital Crown more often than not.
It’s got a smooth action; I’d expected it to have a clicking feel (just because that’s what you get with a watch). It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes embedded as a way of using the Watch, but anything that takes away from having to touch the screen will be a good thing. Tapping the crown inwards sends you back to the home screen, but you can also use the touchscreen on the Watch to interact with apps.
The spherical interface will take some getting used to; hitting the right area to open apps looked like it might be tricky
The button below the Digital Crown serves two functions: the first is to take you to your contacts, and the second is to trigger contactless payments using Apple Pay.
The contacts app is interesting, because it allows you to send things through to your friends that go beyond just regular text messages. That said, the Apple Watch is adept at doing basic smartwatch tasks: you can make and receive calls from your wrist (with mic and speaker) and it will scan messages coming in to work out if it can generate an easy response for you to tap, so if someone asks, for example, ‘Do you want spaghetti or chicken for dinner?’ the Watch will ask you to tap ‘Spaghetti’ or ‘Chicken’ as a reply. Beyond that though, you can send some really weird things. For instance, you can sketch pictures and send them to another Apple Watch, or a vibration code that you’ve predefined with a pal, or you can even hit the screen with two fingers to send over a heart rate image, which vibrates on that person’s arm. The graphic is kind of intense – but it doesn’t explain why Apple has offered this.
The Apple Watch is neither a fitness band, watch or fashion accessory, really, despite taking elements from each of those