WHAT IS THE APPLE WATCH?
On the 9th of September, in the same hall where Steve Jobs unveiled the original Macintosh and the first iMac, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the world to the Apple Watch.
Unlike the iPhone 6, which was also introduced at the same event, the Watch isn’t ready for launch yet. Nobody will be able to get one until “early 2015”, and details about the Watch are still scant. There’s a lot the world doesn’t know yet about Apple’s first wearable computer, but here’s what we do know today.
The Apple Watch pairs with an iPhone (from iPhone 5 and up), and is billed as three things: a timepiece, a way to communicate, and an activity tracker. You can use it to do things like send and receive messages, track your daily physical activity, and check the time.
The Watch has a clever new interface that Apple calls the digital crown. Instead of using now-familiar gestures like pinch to zoom on the Watch, which would crowd out the small screen, you turn the crown to zoom in and out as well as scroll up and down throughout the interface.
Press the digital crown, and it works as a Home button. The only other button on the Watch lies below the digital crown, and brings up a quick list of contacts. The Watch’s screen is not only touch, but also pressure sensitive, so you can tap as well as press the screen to bring up different controls.
In addition to sensors on the back, which can measure metrics like your heart rate, the Watch also has a haptic engine, which uses vibration for a variety of effects. You can tap on the Watch to ‘tap’ on a friend’s Watch, which will vibrate accordingly. When using the Maps app, the Watch can also vibrate in the direction you’re supposed to turn.
The Apple Watch has the most number of SKUs in recent Apple history: it comes in two sizes (38mm and 42mm in height), and three editions (Watch, Watch Sport, Watch Edition), with six different finishes in total, plus six different interchangeable bands. The Apple Watch comes in stainless steel or space-black stainless steel cases, with sapphire crystal screens. The Apple Watch Sport comes in anodized aluminum cases in silver or space-gray, with strengthened Ion-X glass screens.
The Apple Watch Edition comes in 18-karat gold cases in yellow or rose, with sapphire crystal screens. CEO Tim Cook mentioned that the Watch starts at US$349, which means there will be higher priced models.
There are still two key unanswered questions about the Watch: Apple didn’t reveal its battery life, so we have no idea how long the Apple Watch lasts. We also have no idea how waterproof the Watch is.
As technology improves, it’s inevitable that we’ll soon be wearing them on our bodies, and the wrist is as good a place to start as any. While the Watch today might not appear to be a ’must-have’ product, we remember how the original iPhone looks primitive today in comparison to iPhone 6. With the Watch, we believe Apple is starting strong with a long play for the future of wearable computers.