The Ap­ple Watch Ar­rives

IN­TU­ITIVE, FUNC­TIONAL, FUN.

iPhone Life Magazine - - Front Page - BY J I M K A R P E N

Af­ter months of an­tic­i­pa­tion, the Ap­ple Watch is fi­nally here, en­gen­der­ing all the ex­cite­ment that only a new prod­uct from Ap­ple can. It be­came avail­able for pre-or­der and in-store demos start­ing April 10, with sales be­gin­ning April 24. While it's still un­clear whether it's use­ful enough to be­come an in­te­gral part of daily life, the Ap­ple Watch has al­ready un­doubt­edly ad­vanced the de­sign, soft­ware, and func­tion­al­ity of wear­able tech­nol­ogy.

A COM­MU­NI­CA­TION DE­VICE

What could be cooler than re­ceiv­ing a phone call on your wrist, Dick Tracy style? If noth­ing else sells the Ap­ple Watch, this sta­tus fea­ture will. As long as your iPhone is within Blue­tooth or Wi-Fi range, you'll be able to carry on a phone con­ver­sa­tion by talk­ing into your watch.

Part of what makes the ex­pe­ri­ence so dif­fer­ent from us­ing your iPhone is the Ap­ple Watch's in­tu­itive con­trols, such as wak­ing the de­vice when you lift your wrist and si­lenc­ing a call when you cover the watch face with your hand. It's a sub­tler in­ter­face, in­cor­po­rat­ing hap­tic feed­back to cre­ate light vi­bra- tions on your wrist to no­tify you of in­com­ing calls, mes­sages, and app no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

You can also use the Ap­ple Watch for mes­sag­ing, a fea­ture il­lus­trated by Ap­ple ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Lynch at Ap­ple's March 9 me­dia event. Dur­ing a demo, Lynch re­ceived a text mes­sage from his daugh­ter, show­ing off the con­ve­nience of re­ceiv­ing a no­ti­fi­ca­tion and re­spond­ing via your wrist. Lynch's daugh­ter said she was locked out of the garage in her mes­sage, and he replied say­ing not to worry, he would take care of it. He sim­ply spoke his re­ply into the watch and then chose to send it as a text mes­sage. He could also have sent it as a voice mes­sage.

He then used the Ap­ple Watch ver­sion of the smart home se­cu­rity app Alarm.com to un­lock the garage door. Next, a live-stream­ing video from the se­cu­rity cam­era in his garage ap­peared on the Ap­ple Watch dis­play, show­ing the garage door lift­ing and his daugh­ter and her friend en­ter­ing with their bikes.

In ad­di­tion to calls and mes­sag­ing, Ap­ple cre­ated a new “Dig­i­tal Touch” fea­ture for com­mu­ni­cat­ing be­tween Ap­ple Watches, in­clud­ing send­ing a drawing, send­ing a tap, or even send­ing your heart beat.

“A COACH ON YOUR WRIST”

In de­scrib­ing the broad health and fit­ness func­tion­al­ity of the Ap­ple Watch, CEO Tim Cook likened it to “a coach on your wrist.” The Ac­tiv­ity app tracks ev­ery move­ment you make dur­ing the day, cre­at­ing per­son­al­ized goals and weekly re­ports of your ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing time spent mov­ing, ex­er­cis­ing, and stand­ing. If you've been sit­ting too long (which re­search has shown is bad for your health), you'll get an alert re­mind­ing you to stand up.

While ac­tiv­ity mon­i­tors like Fit­bit have of­fered th­ese fea­tures for years, the Ap­ple Watch im­proves upon past ef­forts with its in­ter­face. The Ac­tiv­ity app's three-ring de­sign makes it easy to see how far you've come and what you can still achieve for the day. How­ever, to take full ad­van­tage of the fit­ness ca­pa­bil­i­ties, you'll want to bring your iPhone along with the watch when you run or cy­cle, be­cause the Ap­ple Watch doesn't have built-in GPS to track mileage (a fea­ture that's re­cently come to some An­droid smart­watches).

The Work­out app gives you de­tailed met­rics for ac­tiv­i­ties like run­ning or cy­cling. Fa­mous model Christy Turling­ton Burns made an ap­pear­ance dur­ing the March 9 event, ex­plain­ing how the Ap­ple Watch helps her pre­pare for and run marathons. She spoke about her re­cent half-marathon, say­ing, “Dur­ing the race I re­lied on the Work­out app. It tracked my time, mea­sured my dis­tance, and pushed my pace.” She also uses the so­lar watch face, which shows the po­si­tion of the sun through­out the day, to help her fig­ure out the coolest times to run.

The Ap­ple Watch also con­tains an op­ti­cal heart-rate mon­i­tor that logs data and feeds it to the Health app through­out the day. Know­ing your heart rate gives you a clear pic­ture of the in­ten­sity of your work­out, which is not only im­por­tant in con­di­tion­ing and en­durance, but also to car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.

A TIME­PIECE

Aside from all its other func­tions, the Ap­ple Watch is, well, a watch, keep­ing time to within 50 mil­lisec­onds of the Uni­ver­sal Time stan­dard. Show­ing the date and time and set­ting a timer are func­tions the Ap­ple Watch can do with­out be­ing teth­ered to an iPhone. Ap­ple has de­signed watch faces and hard­ware styles that it says give you a mil­lion pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tions. De­signs range from strik­ingly el­e­gant to cute and use­ful, like the Mickey Mouse face that has Mickey tap­ping his foot with ev­ery pass­ing sec­ond. You can cus­tomize each face to show ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, such as ap­point­ments, the date, and daily ac­tiv­ity lev­els.

A FASH­ION STATE­MENT

Cook con­tin­ues to em­pha­size that the watch is the most per­sonal and in­ti­mate prod­uct Ap­ple has cre­ated — be­cause it's a prod­uct you wear. And so Ap­ple sought to make it at­trac­tive as well as func­tional, cre­at­ing alu­minum and steel al­loys that not only en­sure strength but also style.

Ap­ple is also at­tempt­ing to tap into the high-end fash­ion mar­ket, of­fer­ing an 18-karat gold Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion line. Mod­els range in price from $10,000–$17,000. While it's some­what com­mon to spend thou­sands on a pre­mium watch, some might balk at this price tag for a first-edi­tion de­vice that will in­evitably be­come ob­so­lete.

THOU­SANDS OF APPS

Like the iPhone and iPad, the Ap­ple Watch is a mul­ti­pur­pose de­vice limited only by the imag­i­na­tion of de­vel­op­ers. De­vel­op­ers have al­ready cre­ated thou­sands of apps for the Ap­ple Watch, many of them of­fer­ing im­por­tant con­ve­niences.

With the Amer­i­can Air­lines app, you can ditch board­ing passes in fa­vor of wav­ing your Ap­ple Watch in front of the scan­ner at the gate. Sim­i­larly, at ho­tels, you can com­pletely by­pass the front desk by us­ing SPG, the free app for Star­wood Ho­tels. It tells you your room num­ber, lets you check in, and serves as your room key.

The Ap­ple Watch is a fo­cal point for many brief in­ter­ac­tions through­out the day with stock prices, busi­ness in­for­ma­tion, sports scores, Twit­ter trends, and flight in­for­ma­tion. All of th­ese come to your at­ten­tion ei­ther via glances (brief static mes­sages on the dis­play) or in­ter­ac­tive no­ti­fi­ca­tions sim­i­lar to those on your iPhone or iPad. In this way, you can re­ceive in­for­ma­tion from, or in­ter­act with, the app with­out open­ing it. Or you can also go di­rectly to the app to use all its fea­tures.

Other popular apps avail­able in­clude Uber, Instagram, Shazam, Fan­dango, OpenTable, Twit­ter, WeChat, CNN, MLB.com, Ever­note, eBay, NY­Times, Ex­pe­dia, and ESPN.

AP­PLE PAY AND SIRI

The Ap­ple Watch also sup­ports Ap­ple's new mo­bile pay­ment plat­form. Where once in-store pur­chases were limited to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, now Ap­ple Watch users can make

in-store pay­ments as well, even if they own an iPhone 5. And once set up, it's un­nec­es­sary to bring your iPhone with you when us­ing Ap­ple Pay with the watch.

Dur­ing the March 9 event, Ap­ple ex­ec­u­tive Lynch de­moed Ap­ple Pay by us­ing a Whole Foods ter­mi­nal on stage. He dou­ble-tapped the side but­ton and put his watch close to the scan­ner, show­ing how easy it is to use. An au­di­ble sound in­di­cated that the ter­mi­nal sensed the pres­ence of the Ap­ple Watch, and hap­tic feed­back on his wrist in­di­cated that the trans­ac­tion was com­plete.

Per­haps the big­gest sur­prise was that you can get Siri's at­ten­tion not only by press­ing and hold­ing the Dig­i­tal Crown, but also by say­ing, "Hey, Siri." As with the iPhone and iPad, you can use Siri for a wide range of pur­poses, from ask­ing about the weather to set­ting up a re­minder.

BAT­TERY LIFE AND STOR­AGE

Lead­ing up to the re­lease, there was a lot of spec­u­la­tion about the bat­tery life of the Ap­ple Watch. While Cook says it has an "all-day bat­tery life" of 18 hours, that num­ber will vary depend­ing upon fre­quency and type of use. Con­nect­ing the mag­netic charger is sim­ple: you hold the Ap­ple Watch near the charger and it clicks into place.

Although Ap­ple hasn't said much about stor­age on the de­vice, the com­pany has re­port­edly con­firmed that it comes with 8 GB, of which 2 GB is for mu­sic (space for about 200 songs) and 75 MB is for pho­tos. You can ac­cess the mu­sic and pho­tos with­out be­ing con­nected to an iPhone.

PRIC­ING AND AVAIL­ABIL­ITY

The price for the alu­minum Ap­ple Watch Sport starts at $349 for the 38-mm ver­sion, and $50 more for the 42-mm dis­play. The Ap­ple Watch, made of steel, has prices rang­ing from $549 to $1,049. The 18-karat gold Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion starts at $10,000 and will have limited avail­abil­ity. Ap­ple Watches can be pur­chased on­line and in Ap­ple Stores.

I think the Ap­ple Watch is a win­ner. This is yet one more time Ap­ple has en­vi­sioned a great prod­uct and lav­ished it with its usual at­ten­tion to de­tail. The re­sult is an at­trac­tive and use­ful gad­get that of­fers con­ve­nience and a huge range of func­tion­al­ity.

Jim Karpen, Ph.D, is on fac­ulty at Ma­har­ishi Uni­ver­sity of Man­age­ment in Fair­field, IA. He has been writ­ing about the rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­se­quences of com­puter tech­nol­ogy since 1994. His Ph.D dis­ser­ta­tion an­tic­i­pated the In­ter­net revo­lu­tion. His site, jimkarpen.com, con­tains se­lected regular col­umns writ­ten for The Iowa Source. jim_karpen@iphonelife.com.

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