25 Mar Apple Watch: The First Modern Smartwatch
Forget sci-fi, the future is already here. Could you see yourself doing this?
- Your wrist vibrates and you’re alerted it is time to leave for the airport.
- On the way out of the hotel restaurant you swipe your wrist past the payment terminal and head to your room.
- You unlock your door by tapping your wrist to the door sensor.
- You grab your bags and while walking to the lobby, using only your voice, you send a message to your colleague, listen to your afternoon schedule and check your flight is on time.
As far-fetched as this may sound, it is coming in 2015.
Apple’s first smartwatch, aptly named the Apple Watch, will be available after April the 14th. CEO Tim Cook spoke to Fast Company about the time it took to develop the watch. Apple wanted to get it right, the first time. He also admitted Apple was not the creator of the first smartwatch, it was the creator of the first modern smartwatch.
“We weren’t first on the MP3 player; we weren’t first on the tablet; we weren’t first on the smartphone. But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch—the first one that matters.” Tim Cook, CEO Apple.
Mr Cook spoke about innovative new ideas used to overcome the challenges of a small screen. One of those was Force Touch. As opposed to a usual short tap, pressing the screen slightly harder moves you to other user interfaces. This allows additional controls to be launched.
The Apple Watch pairs with the iPhone 5 and later models over Wifi and Bluetooth. This intimate connection between the Apple Watch and the iPhone means that the user experience is going to get a whole lot more interesting. To begin with the Apple watch will support: voice commands and dictation, fitness monitoring and health management, and clever ways to interact with your contacts.
Based on stunning hardware, and a SDK (software development kit) for developers already released by Apple, the possibilities are very exciting.
What Makes the Apple Watch Unique?
Apple has made some very clever design choices with the Apple Watch. From standout hardware, to standout software, to standout security.
Apple has taken the time to ensure the hardware on its smartwatch is state of the art. Here are some key standouts:
- The Retina display is joined to a single crystal of sapphire for protection. For the sport collection Ion-X glass is used.
- Taptic Engine alerts and notifications vibrate like a tap on the wrist. Give someone a tap or send them your heart beat.
- Battery life up to 18hours, charge overnight. An inductive charger uses magnets to snap into place on the back of the phone.
- Force Touch discerns between a tap and a deep press. This allows additional controls to be launched inside apps, such as searching an address in Maps or to end a workout.
- The digital crown is a key navigational tool without obstructing the screen. It can be used to zoom in and out, scroll through lists, input data, or use it as a button to return to the home screen.
“The inputs that work for a phone, a tablet, or a Mac don’t work as well on a smaller screen. Most of the companies who have done smartwatches haven’t thought that through, so they’re still using pinch-to-zoom and other gestures that we created for the iPhone.” Tim Cook, CEO Apple.
New software features mean that the Apple Watch is an extension of the iPhone. These are the standout features:
- See who is calling without your phone. Use the built-in speaker and microphone to answer the call, transfer calls to your iPhone, or cover the watch with your hand to mute the call.
- The watch will tap you when you receive a message. Lift your wrist to see the message and reply with a preset message, speak to reply or record an audio message.
- Raise your watch and say “Hey Siri” and do things like send messages, get directions or check your calendar. You can even open apps by saying; “Hey Siri, open the Maps app.”
- Display multiple timezones on the same screen. This is great if you are working across multiple timezones.
- "Glances" is a summary page for apps. Swipe up to access Glances, swipe through different Glances or tap to open that app.
“I think Apple’s contribution has always been at its most significant when it’s trying to make personal products. And this watch is clearly the most personal product we’ve made.” Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple.
Swipe and go mobile payments will be easy and secure with Near Field Communication (NFC) also supported on the Apple Watch. In addition to this, balancing convenience and security, the watch will only ask for the security passcode when putting the watch back on.
- Use Apple Pay by tapping the side button and holding the watch face to a payment terminal. If you have multiple cards, swipe between them after double pressing the side button.
- Each time you take off the Apple Watch it will ask you for the passcode before allowing access again.
“What is a Complication?
In watchmaking a complication is a specialized feature that appears on the watch face. Traditionally, complications included features such as moon phases or sunrise and sunset. Complications that can be applied to the Apple Watch include alarm, calendar, stocks, weather, activity and world clock to name a few. By tapping on the complication the corresponding app will open.
The Apple Watch is a Game Changer
The Apple Watch is without a doubt a game changer in the smart watch market. Its unique features will influence other watch makers and also opens great opportunities for app developers.
As Tim Cook states, at first the Apple Watch may not be a great hit. It will not take long however for iPhone users to see how practical it is.
“I don’t think anything revolutionary that we have done was predicted to be a hit when released. It was only in retrospect that people could see its value. Maybe this will be received the same way.” Tim Cook, CEO Apple.
The Apple Watch will become available after April the 14th and prices vary greatly depending on the model and style. Prices start at $499 and go well above $10,000 for gold.
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