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?

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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

Good vi­bra­tions

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

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