A Re­view of the Ap­ple Watch

A Cure for Nomo­pho­bia or Just a Fancy Ac­ces­sory?

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content - By Fawzi Ra­hal | @Fawzi­ra­hal

Fash­ion Ac­ces­sory or Com­mu­ni­ca­tion De­vice?

The Ap­ple Watch launch in April cre­ated a hype that is typ­i­cal of the Cu­per­tino gi­ant but with doubt­ful last­ing ef­fects. Since the launch, search queries for the Ap­ple Watch have dropped by 60% in most coun­tries, sig­nal­ing a de­cline of in­ter­est. In terms of sales, early Ap­ple Watch sales beat the orig­i­nal iphone and ipad. How this will trans­late in fu­ture sales is re­lated to what ap­pli­ca­tions, fea­tures, and func­tion­al­i­ties will be launched with the new soft­ware up­date this fall. At the mo­ment of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle, the Ap­ple Watch is run­ning on Watchos 1, which has se­vere re­stric­tions on what third-party apps can do, in­clud­ing mi­cro­phone ac­cess and run­ning apps na­tively on the Watch, in ad­di­tion to com­pli­ca­tions (we’ll get to that). Watchos 2 will pro­vide de­vel­op­ers ac­cess to all of the above, thus al­low­ing for fur­ther func­tion­al­i­ties that are cur­rently not pos­si­ble.

The Pur­chase Ex­pe­ri­ence Com­pares More to Buy­ing a Suit than a Tech­nol­ogy Piece

The true Ap­ple Watch ex­pe­ri­ence be­gins at the Ap­ple Store. Un­like any of their other prod­uct launches, Ap­ple opted against the fa­mil­iar long-queues and cre­ated an online reser­va­tion sys­tem with same-day ap­point­ments avail­able across Ap­ple Stores.

I ar­rived at the Ap­ple store at Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion in New York five min­utes early to my ap­point­ment. An Ap­ple Ge­nius greeted me and was happy to spend 30 min­utes to take me through the avail­able wrist­band op­tions for the model I was in­ter­ested in. Through it all, I was be­ing walked through the in­tri­ca­cies of the wrist­bands, the ma­te­ri­als, the process, and the fash­ion. The Watch feels light and, for some­one who has tried var­i­ous wear­ables, it feels just right. My first smart­watch was an I’mwatch: A bulky and pricey 2011 An­droid de­vice that never man­aged to pick up be­cause of how buggy, clunky and, if I may, use­less it was. I used the UP and UP 24 health track­ers. Both were quite com­fort­able to wear all day were easy to charge and main­tain, but both broke in less than six months. An­droid Wear is the clos­est match to Ap­ple Watch, but has as more wrist­bands than apps avail­able. Be­cause of all the third party apps, the Ap­ple Watch has more types of no­ti­fi­ca­tion, but An­droid Wear’s no­ti­fi­ca­tions for text and phone calls are just as good as Ap­ple’s. Noth­ing I’ve tried be­fore felt so light and yet so func­tional; and the watch con­nects to the phone seam­lessly, in con­trast to any other wearable that still re­quires you to fid­dle with Blue­tooth ev­ery now and then.

I chose my model: The Ap­ple Watch with a bright blue leather loop. The Sport does not of­fer a Sap­phire crys­tal screen and sil­i­con bands are more de­signed for ex­er­cis­ing than for daily use, while the loop wrist­band al­lows for con­stant ad­just­ment for the Watch dur­ing the day. Over­all, it felt more like buy­ing a suit than a piece of hard­ware. That’s be­cause all the Ap­ple Watch mod­els have the same in­ter­nal hard­ware; thus how the Watch feels be­comes as im­por­tant as what it does.

It’s a Per­sonal De­vice that Takes a While to Get Used To

The $549 Ap­ple Watch and the $17,000 Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion are es­sen­tially the same de­vice. How­ever, the Ap­ple Watch might just be the most per­sonal de­vice I have yet to use. Far more per­sonal than the iphone, the Watch is cus­tom­iz­a­ble, per­sonal, and slightly counter-in­tu­itive.

Within 20 min­utes from un­box­ing, the Watch was pow­ered on around my wrist and had all the sup­ported apps loaded on to it from my iphone. Al­most ev­ery watch face is cus­tom­iz­a­ble in nu­mer­ous ways: lay­out, color, de­tail, vi­su­als and com­pli­ca­tions. Within al­lo­cated com­pli­ca­tion spa­ces, you can choose to see another time­zone, your next meet­ing, the po­si­tion of the moon, or the cur­rent tem­per­a­ture (Fig­ure 1).

In many ways, it’s the most un-ap­ple in­ter­face for a de­vice that only Ap­ple could do. While Ap­ple hard­ware and soft­ware are usu­ally the least cus­tom­iz­a­ble in com­par­i­son to An­droid and oth­ers, the Watch in my opin­ion has far too many cus­tomiza­tion op­tions that are yet the eas­i­est to use.

Fawzi Ra­hal is the Founder of Ga­mutt, a strate­gic dig­i­tal con­sul­tancy, fo­cus­ing on set­ting world-class web, so­cial, mo­bile, and con­tent strate­gies for brands in the Mid­dle East. Pre­vi­ously, Fawzi headed Dig­i­tal at Grey MENA.

Erik Duin­dam, Co-founder and CTO, Cloud Games Erik is a tech en­tre­pre­neur spe­cial­ized in scal­ing plat­forms to huge pro­por­tions. Erik is co-founder and CTO of Cloud Games, a ca­sual gam­ing com­pany founded in 2013 with around a mil­lion Ara­bic-speak­ing visi­tors per month. He has led the de­vel­op­ment of the pay­ment plat­form for Spil Games, reach­ing 170 mil­lion unique monthly users, and vakantieveilin­gen.nl, which be­came the #1 Face­book brand in the Nether­lands. He has ad­vised the Dutch Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Cen­ter on cy­ber se­cu­rity mat­ters and sold his de­vel­op­ment com­pany in 2014 to fo­cus on new star­tups.

Fig­ure 1: Com­pli­ca­tions and watch­face

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