The ul­ti­mate starter’s guide to Ap­ple’s life-chang­ing new gad­get

Mac Format - - FRONT PAGE - Words: Alex Blake, Chris­tian Hall, Kenny Hemphill Images: Ap­ple

Ap­ple is once again set to re­fine, or sim­ply ‘de­fine’, a new mar­ket. Wear­able tech might have been a buzz­word for the last 18 months but we all know that it truly meant very lit­tle un­til Ap­ple en­tered the mar­ket. When we got the teaser back in Oc­to­ber 2014 our ap­petites were whet­ted, but it’s fi­nally time to get the new de­vice that will com­plete the mod­ern Ap­ple ecosys­tem. Un­like phones, though, we’re all pretty much new to wear­ables, so why is the Watch the ‘one more thing’ Ap­ple thinks we need in our lives.

We’re so used to pack­ing bags with a Mac­Book, iPhone and iPad that the thought of yet an­other de­vice to re­mem­ber fills some with dread. There is such a thing as overkill, es­pe­cially if they all start­ing beep­ing and ping­ing at once. As ex­cit­ing as Ap­ple Watch’s tech is, it’s easy to see the de­trac­tors’ point of view. Yet the Ap­ple Watch is about to com­plete the com­pany’s ecosys­tem rather than add an­other layer of com­plex­ity to our in­creas­ingly hec­tic and tech­cen­tric lives. It’s not so much to do with the Watch it­self, but rather our re­la­tion­ship to mo­bile de­vices and the seam­less na­ture of our im­por­tant no­ti­fi­ca­tions and net­works. We’ve all hated hear­ing loud key­board tap­pers, ob­serv­ing phone hogs that barely look up from their screens and see­ing folk awk­wardly jos­tle other peo­ple out of the way to snap a photo with their tablets. The an­swer to all th­ese un­for­tu­nate

lapses in deco­rum? A de­vice that is more nat­u­rally part of us, one that all we re­ally have to do is re­mem­ber to put it on in the morn­ing.

Con­nect­ing it all to­gether What the Ap­ple Watch will fi­nally of­fer us is a way to connect up the most dis­parate parts of our tech lives with­out adding ex­tra ef­fort or time (ap­pro­pri­ate, huh?) At the Watch’s launch, Tim Cook said that new prod­ucts of­ten de­mand new in­ter­faces, and over the years Ap­ple has been streets ahead in defin­ing and re­defin­ing what we come to ex­pect from our in­ter­ac­tions with com­puter tech­nol­ogy. It brought the graph­i­cal user in­ter­face to the masses with the orig­i­nal Macin­tosh, the iPod scroll wheel, and of course, the Multi-Touch in­ter­face that helped de­fine the mod­ern mo­bile com­put­ing mar­ket.

When it comes to dic­tat­ing how we in­ter­act with tech­nol­ogy, no com­pany does it bet­ter than Ap­ple, and the Watch is the epit­ome of that. It’s built on a num­ber of nat­u­ral user in­ter­face ideas that pack an in­cred­i­ble amount of func­tion­al­ity into an ‘in­sanely small’ gad­get. It is a far more el­e­gant so­lu­tion than the orig­i­nal iPhone and iPod touch, where the Home but­ton al­ways seemed rather awk­ward and un­nec­es­sary as a phys­i­cal thing.

With the Watch, though, the Dig­i­tal Crown is must. The Watch’s in­tended uses dic­tate that vir­tual con­trols are sim­ply not enough. Take the Maps app as an ex­am­ple: your fin­ger is great for mov­ing around, but it will ob­scure what you need to see on a screen that is ei­ther 38mm or 42mm tall.

Ap­ple Watch is more than the sum of its parts and un­like other mo­bile de­vices, in­clud­ing Ap­ple’s, there’s no sin­gle way to con­trol it. A re­mark­able achieve­ment when you con­sider it has come to life out of a de­mand for wear­able tech ac­ces­sories, in­stantly lim­it­ing what we’re al­ready used to do­ing on our smartphones. The only real limit though is a fail­ure to em­brace this change of mind­set. We’re sure that within a few months of the Watch’s de­but, we’ll all be ask­ing our­selves why smartphones and tablets were so im­per­sonal.

First con­tact

Since Ap­ple Watch is al­ways on our wrists it makes the con­nec­tion to our per­sonal con­tacts far more im­me­di­ate, even for things as mun­dane as reach­ing out to pick up your iPhone when it pings a mes­sage at you. That al­ready feels like wasted ef­fort. Ap­ple Watch is proof that less is more.

Now our mes­sages will be phys­i­cally closer, eas­ier to get to and more per­sonal with fea­tures such as Dig­i­tal Touch, where you can draw sim­ple mes­sages and send them to other Watch wear­ers. You might think it’s a nov­elty at first, but ac­tu­ally it’s a sign of ges­tures fi­nally grow­ing up. We’ve never con­nected so in­ti­mately through mo­bile de­vices be­fore. Ap­ple Watch even en­ables you to send the rhythm of your heart­beat as a mes­sage.

The Ap­ple Watch will connect us like never be­fore, not only thanks to Ap­ple’s in­tu­itive user in­ter­face, but be­cause a whole av­enue for inspiring de­vel­op­ers now opens up. An av­enue for a de­vice with so much free­dom that it has more pos­si­bil­i­ties than iPad or iPhone ever did. As Thomas Edi­son once said: “Just be­cause some­thing doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s use­less”. We’re sure we’ll soon for­get that it’s a watch at all – not dis­sim­i­lar to the com­bi­na­tion of a per­sis­tent in­ter­net con­nec­tion and the App Store on the iPhone.

But which Watch?

The Ap­ple Watch has the big­gest range and price dif­fer­en­tial of any Ap­ple prod­uct. It’s a step change in what the com­pany is of­fer­ing and it takes a while to trawl through all the op­tions open to you. For a quick look at how the com­bi­na­tions might look visit www.mixy­our­, which is more help­ful than Ap­ple’s own Store page.

Only the alu­minum Sport edi­tion starts at £299 and that’s for the smaller 38mm ver­sion. The 42mm size is slightly more at £339. The glossier stain­less steel Watch col­lec­tion starts at £479 and goes up to to £949, depend­ing on the Watch size and your choice of band. The gold Watch Edi­tion will be in limited sup­ply and cost a whop­ping £8,000 to £13,500, con­firm­ing ru­mours it would be in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive!

It’s not just the no­to­ri­ous Ap­ple tax push­ing the price tag well be­yond £300, it’s the com­po­nents in­volved. For ex­am­ple, the al­lme­tal Link Bracelet has 100 com­po­nents and takes an in­cred­i­ble nine hours to cut! Ap­ple also re­cruited high-pro­file tal­ent from the watch and bio­met­rics in­dus­tries who have wound up on its Ap­ple Watch team. That comes at a price.

Then there’s a hid­den cost. While a sub­sidised iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are cheaper up front in the US, stores make up the dif­fer­ence with con­tract kick­backs. Not so with a smart­watch. Re­tail­ers need a cut too. For com­par­i­son’s sake, ini­tial An­droid Wear watches were the Sam­sung Gear Live at £170 and LG G Watch at £160. The more stylish Moto 360 is priced at £199. Ap­ple is clearly aim­ing for luxury given what’s be­ing of­fered in the Ap­ple Watch.

The test of time

There’s also an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion around the up­grade cy­cle. Peo­ple gen­er­ally change phones with their con­tract. Not so with watches. The sat­u­ra­tion of the iPad mar­ket also shows a lack of de­sire to up­grade on an an­nual or even bi­en­nial ba­sis. So, the first-gen Watch will be around for a while, par­tic­u­larly con­sid­er­ing how many va­ri­eties Ap­ple has in­vested in, and the fact that it’s the iPhone that will be the de­vice that gets up­graded as Watch apps run through it first.

18-HouR batt ery

Dig­i­tal crown

Amaz­ing apps

ABOVE: There’s four health sen­sors on the back of the Watch – two for white light and two for infrared. BE­LOW: The Watch’s in­duc­tive charger snaps onto the back, much like a MagSafe ca­ble, and de­liv­ers up to 18 hours of charge.

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