In Cupertino, California, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the much anticipated Watch. After the lack of an announcement during the iPhone maker’s World Wide Developers Conference in June and continued speculation from the public, a first look was given today during Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 6.
The Watch, which had previously been expected to carry the company’s “i” moniker and be called the iWatch, appears to offer more features than consumers and technology experts expected. The digital wearable is available in three designs and two sizes. There are the base Watch, a Watch Sport, and finally the Watch Edition.
The base edition features either polished or black stainless steel cases with a sapphire crystal protecting the display. Sapphire is the second strongest crystal behind diamonds. Watch is available with a limited choice of band options. The Watch Sport replaces the Sapphire display with a Ion-X glass and the case is lightweight anodized aluminum instead of the base models stainless steel cases. The band for the Watch Sport is made of a sweat and chemical resistant fluoroelastomer material.
The Watch Edition is the premium device in the lineup. Returning to the sapphire crystal, the Edition sports a 18-karat gold case that has undergone modifications be metallurgists to strengthen the precious metal to be as twice as strong as regular gold. Designer bands round off the premium Watch Edition.
The wearable from Apple unveiled that the speculated partnership with Nike to develop the Watch was likely true. The wearable appears to have incorporated features from the shoemaker’s Nike+ software platform and technology from the Fuelband digital activity wearable. With an accelerometer and heart rate monitor, and the ability to connect to a user’s iPhone via Bluetooth, and utilize the phones GPS offers users a detailed workout progress and more. Showing distance, heart rate and other health and exercise features that can be tracked on the wearer’s iPhone through the Health Kit feature in the new iOS coming soon, Watch can monitor a user’s activity and offer suggestions and goals on how to improve health and fitness.
Watch takes messaging to a whole new level. Simple preset messages can be sent in reply to incoming text messages and a user can send simple drawings done on the watch face to other users. Message features also allow a user to send their actual heart beat to a friend with their own Watch. Getting the attention of another Watch wearing friend can be as simple as a tap. Tapping on the screen will vibrate the Watch on the other contacts wrist. Watch will also connect to a user’s iPhone and allow for the wearer to answer calls through the device on their wrist. This will allow a user to leave the phone across the room charging or in a bag or backpack, and still see who is calling and answer the call right from their Watch.
A new iOS feature on the Watch is the Passbook. This allows consumers to input their credit cards and at select locations, complete transactions with just a wave of the wrist. This could give active users the ability to leave their wallets at home during long runs or bike rides and still be able to pay for a latte or lunch through their Watch.
There are a number of other features the Watch will immediately have, like a remote trigger for iPhone cameras, controlling of iTunes and AppleTV. Watch will also incorporate Apple’s digital assistant Siri, give users access to email, calendars and maps. Watch will also connect to Home Kit and remind a user when the lights were left on and give the option to turn the lights off from the Watch.
With all the apps and features the Watch offers, as the name indicates, it will also tell time. According to Apple, the timekeeping is tied to the GPS in the iPhone and will continually check its self against the definitive global time standard. it will automatically change time zones and adjust time when daylight saving time starts. With customizable faces, Apple indicates users can customize the time features and display in nearly two million different ways.
With the unveiling today of the Watch by Apple, the long wait is over. Consumers now know that in early 2015 the Watch will be available to adorn their wrists, at a starting price of $349. The price point does place Apple’s wearable about $100 more than similar technology from Samsung and Motorola. The features of Watch do seem to exceed the offerings from competitors, appearing that Apple has set the bar high once again. Now the waiting begins for consumers to see how the competition will respond to Watch.
By Carl Auer