One More Thing: The Apple Watch

Apple Watch Keynote 2014-09-11“We’ve really gone through enough to call it a day,” Apple CEO Tim Cook says after wrapping up the debut of Apple Pay at the company’s September 9 keynote. And truly the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and Apple Pay were huge in and of themselves. “But,” he continued, “we’re not quite finished yet.”  We have one more thing.” He glows with pride as the Flint Center auditorium dims and the earth rises onto the projection screen, backlit by golden-white sunlight. Suddenly, the black edges of space become a display with curved edges. We see a metal frame, a turning watch crown, a strap. Finally, we see in full glory Cook’s one thing more…

the Apple Watch.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.04.50 AMApple calls the Apple Watch, its “most personal device yet.” From the design to the apps to the tiniest details, the watch is customizable in look and function. With two sizes, six finishes, six straps (so far),and  eleven watch faces, there are thousands of combinations to try in order to find the look you want. There really is a style for everyone. And if the customizability is too overwhelming, Apple has curated three collections to choose from: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.

The watch is also, purportedly, an excellent timekeeper. While this doesn’t sound like a big deal,–after all, what are watches made for?–the Apple Watch‘s accuracy is not something you can ignore. The device keeps time “within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard.” Much like a smartphone, the watch adjusts the time automatically during daylight savings and when you move from one timezone to another. Apple Watch also receives notifications and alerts you to them using a vibration. For example, an incoming message signals you with “a gentle tap.” Each type of notification has its own unique experience attached to it. The use of vibrations in the watch gives it a dimension unseen in other wearables on the market.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.05.27 AMWhen it comes to messaging and other communication, the Apple Watch is great. You can bring up the people who you speak with most often, your “inner circle,” quickly and easily to start communicating with them. Just tap their picture, and you are given a range of ways to communicate. You can call, of course, and they can call you. And when you want to silence an incoming call, all you have to do is cover the watch’s face with your hand. Messages received on the watch can be answered using the menu of short responses suggested by the device or using dictation. Emojis are also available as responses. You can also communicate using some of the Digital Touch features. Start a walkie-talkie conversation, send a sketch, tap your friend, or send out your heartbeat.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.05.51 AMSpeaking of the heart, the fitness and health features help you to care for you wellbeing, including that of your heart. The Activity app provides a way to see your daily progress at a glance. Three rings show you how much you do when you’re not sitting. The innermost ring, Stand, monitors how often and for how long you take a break from sitting. The middle ring, Exercise, monitors any movement ranging from a brisk walk to an outright sprint. Basically, it monitors activity that raises your heart rate. And the outer ring, Move, monitors how many calories you’ve burned. Ultimately, the goal is to sit as little as possible and move as much a you can. But for intentional cardio fitness session, you use the Workout app. The app logs important stats like time, distance, calories, and pace. Any activity logged in the Workout app will show up in the Activity app also. Over time, Apple Watch will collect the user’s data to suggest personalized fitness goals and will help the user achieve them.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.06.12 AMSo, with Apple Watch, you can make the most of your time, talk to friends, and track your health. And that’s useful enough. But Apple Watch also uses Apple Pay so you can check out at lightning speed. Passbook once kept all of your tickets, coupons, and rewards cards readily at hand, but now it keeps your credit and debit cards, too. All you need to do too pay with Apple Watch is “double-click the button next to the Digital Crown and hold your wrist up to the contactless reader.” The watch will audibly and physically notify you when you’ve successfully made your purchase.

The catch to having an Apple Watch is that you must own an iPhone 5 or a later model. The watch will be release in early 2015, probably in January or February. Pricing starts at $349, which sounds expensive until you think about how much a Rolex costs. This is Apple’s very first wearable, and like those “firsts” that came before it, the device will be honed and tweaked to perfection.

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