Apple Watch Ups The Ante For Smart Watches
Apple wowed the crowd today with their introduction of the new Apple Watch, “the most personal device Apple has ever created”.
Tim Cook waited until near the end of the event to reveal the device, calling it Apple’s 4th major innovation. It received by far the biggest applause, too.
We have to agree, the new Apple Watch is a truly special device – it clearly sets a new high bar for smart watches. The Apple faithful will eat it up.
We’re not the only ones impressed: Jason Calcanis just said that due to the Apple Watch, “Apple will be the first trillion dollar company”.
The Apple Watch will work with iPhone 6, of course, but it will also work with the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s. That means when it starts shipping, there is an instant market of 200 million customers for the device.
One of the things that really stood out today was how customizable and flexible the Apple Watch is. “Personalizable” is a better term. Not only in terms of its wide range of digital watch faces and configurable apps, but also in their choice of finishes, sizes and watch bands.
The Apple Watch was clearly designed to be both a really cool device and a highly personal fashion accessory.
With prices starting at $349, the Apple Watch will be available for sale in “early 2015”.
When released, there will be three different models for sale.
- Apple Watch has a sapphire screen, a stainless steel casing and a choice of metal or leather straps.
- Apple Watch Sport comes with an ion-x screen, anodized aluminum casing and a choice of colorful elastomer bands.
- Apple Watch Edition has a sapphire screen, 18k gold casing and a choice of high-end leather buckle bands.
Apple announced their new smart watch will come in two sizes – one for ladies and another for gentlemen. How nice.
Next-Generation User Interface
A major highlight of the
iWatch er, Apple Watch, is its brand-new user interface. Apple’s UI isn’t just a shrunk-down version of the iPhone interface. It’s totally new.
Apple Watch uses a digital crown dial and a pressure-sensitive touchscreen sensor to completely re-think how you interact with a smart watch.
App and menu navigation is accomplished using a digital crown and a single side button. This keeps the screen visible while you interact with the device. For example, you can enlarge a map or scroll through the menu without losing the view. In addition, you can use the touch screen to swipe through alerts and apps.
The other UI innovation, the new pressure-sensitive touch sensor, is made of a mesh built into the touchscreen. It recognizes the difference between a tap and a press – and how hard you press.
The combination of these two new inputs opens up whole ways of interacting with a personal digital device. We have no doubt that some of the apps that take advantage of these inputs will feel much slicker than the Pebble, Samsung Tizen and Android Wear apps we’ve seen to date.
During the on-stage demos, the responsiveness of the Apple Watch UI was slick, quick and smooth. Great job!
First off, Apple Maps looks really cool on the Apple Watch. The maps interface makes it really easy to see where you are, select walking or driving directions, and then monitor your progress on the screen. Using the digital crown, you can pan-in and -out of the view easily without blocking the view. Very nice.
Apple Watch also comes with Siri and leverages its built-in microphone to let you interact with messages, get directions and reply to people’s messages by voice. Apple “Glances” is similar to Android Wear/Google Now’s card based messaging and alert system. You swipe from left to right to page through the alerts.
The Apple Watch uses something called “Quick Boards” to simplify messaging between people. The demo today showed a number of pre-defined replies to common types of messages, such as an invitation to an event.
Finally, Apple Watch provides new ways to share information between people – such as your mood, your contact information or even a sketch.
In addition to the Apple-provided apps presented on stage, several third party Apple Watch apps were demoed today, including:
- the Twitter app looked really slick on the Apple Watch – better than on anything we’ve seen to date. You can reply to tweets from your phone.
- Starwood Hotels has a really cool app that lets you check-in to your hotel and unlock your door using your watch. Available worldwide by Spring 2015.
- the Pinterest app reminds you when you are traveling near a location that you geotagged on your board. This would make for an easy way to plan trips ahead of time.
- It has a car parking location reminder.
- the Lutron app control your home appliances.
- you can challenge your friends to a run with Nike.
- there was mention of a walkie-talkie app, but it wasn’t demoed.
All of the Apple Watch apps demoed were developed using Apple’s WatchKit, which will soon be available to anyone who wants to build apps for the device.
As we predicted, the basic design of the Apple Watch is similar to most other smart watches on the market. It’s squarish in design, albeit with a high-end look and feel.
Apple’s watch bands are interchangeable, but they appear to use proprietary attachments, which no doubt will generate tons if accessory and upgrade revenues for Apple.
One of the bands displayed today include a sport band made of elastomer. Others include a leather loop band, a leather buckle band and several varieties of metal bands.
Integrated With Apple Pay
Apple Watch is also integrated with another new service announced today, Apple Pay. Apple Pay enables one-touch payments from any Apple device. It replace your credit card at store counters world wide (coming soon). Early partners include McDonald’s, Macy’s and Bloomingdale.
This means that very soon, you’ll be able to pay for stuff just by tapping your watch. No wallet, not even a phone to bother with. Just tap and pay. Now THAT’s cool.
This pay-by-watch thing may be much more important to Apple’s future than “cool”, too.
After all, paying for stuff is so fundamental in our lives. And Apple Pay makes it so easy – and with Apple Watch so very, very cool – to pay in public.
Apple pay-by-watch just might be the “game-changing app” that the smart watch market has been waiting for, not to mention Apple’s investors. If so, then Apple will have enabled yet another lucrative human behavior – on their platform. Google will probably struggle a bit to compete on this feature, because they don’t control the hardware.
To be real honest, paying for something by touching your $350 smart watch is showing off . But the truth is that there are tens of millions of people who can’t resist the temptation to show off like that. Apple knows them better than most.
My free marketing advice to Apple: send a few hundred Apple Watches to Hollywood A- and B-Listers about a month before you start shipping to the rest of us. Get them into the holiday movies, too, if you can. Your welcome.
This was an impressive and strategic product demo we saw today.
The messaging apps appear to be on-par with Android Wear, except that the Apple Watch software seemed more refined and a bit smoother than anything we’ve seen to date.
Oh, and you can communicate using your own customized emoji (Apple lets you change emoji on the fly). Don’t laugh, in Asia emoji have become a replacement for text messaging – and some say the behavior is coming our way, soon.
Health & Fitness Apps
As widely rumored, Apple Watch comes bundled with the most advanced health monitoring and fitness apps in the market. Apple claims their apps are completely personalized and will help people live a better life.
There are two health and fitness apps that come with the Apple Watch, and both work seamlessly with iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 lineup.
Using a unique ring-based visual, the Activity App monitors your every day activities to keep you fit. A movement ring measures your daily calorie burn and is personalized to your body and habits. The standing ring tells you whether you’d been off your butt long enough today.
A little 1984-ish for my taste, but the fitness band market is huge.
The workout app is organized around the concept of “exercises”. You can set goals for each type of exercise, monitor your progress during a session and store and analyze a history of activity. An exercise ring shows you how well you are meeting this session’s goals.
Some of the notable hardware features announced today include:
- Touch Force Sensor
- Haptic Feedback: Apple calls its force-feedback system “Taptic Feedback”. Cute.
- Sapphire Blue crystal curved lens (harder than Gorilla Glass)
- Custom Designed Chip (S1)
- Health Sensors: 2 photosensors and 2 IR sensors
- Accelerometer (requires iPhone tethering for GPS)
Apple Watch uses a specially-designed magnetic induction charger that snaps onto the back of the device.
No mention of battery life, which was interesting. However, during the intro Tim Scott mentioned that the Apple Watch is, “a watch you can use ALL DAY…”. Hmm.
Available: After Christmas
Sorry, fan boyz. You’ll have to wait until “early next year” to pay for that Big Mac with your Apple Watch.