“Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” -Douglas Adams
“Just one more thing…”, said Tim Cook knowing that this phrase has before preceded other major new product announcements. The crowd began cheering before he even said it. He then played a film showing it – and the audience gave it a standing ovation. They gave a standing ovation to a Watch.
The Apple Watch.
Stop saying iWatch – it’s Apple Watch. It comes in three different styles – as you can see above, though functionally they are all identical. But as a fashion accessory it is important to have lots of choices – expect the “Edition” to become sought after amongst the rich.
The key things to notice are the straps – which on the example models were all magnetic so will snap to your wrist more easily. The other big thing is the knob on the side – which is known as the “digital crown”, and can be twisted like on traditional watches, but can be used for a variety of uses including scrolling and zooming. It can also be clicked in and operates as the home button exactly like on an iPhone. You can even trigger Siri with it.
On the inside there’s a bunch of movement detection widgets, and it can even detect with how much force you’re prodding. On the underside of the watch are four sensors that will monitor your pulse. The underside is also where the Apple Watch is charged: The charger uses a combination of magsafe magnets (like Macbook chargers) and induction chargers, so you never have physically exposed pins.
But what can the watch actually do? In brief, the watch does everything you’d expect: it tracks your steps, it shows notifications – nothing too revolutionary. The interface looks beautiful.
The home screen is like a series of bubbles with icons sized differently – with the clock app in the centre. Apps can work much like Android Wear – either built specific for the platform to run full screen, or developers can simply build contextual notifications. For example – if you receive a calendar invitation you’re given the options of “Accept” or “Decline”. On messages you can either select a quick response: The watch is clever enough to analyse the text and try to pick options out the messages, so if the question is “Daddy or chips?” it will give you options to send by “Daddy” or “Chips”. Or of course, you can dictate a message to send as a voice message or as Siri-transcribed text.
When you actually receive notifications you’ll apparently feel “haptic feedback” – like a silent tap on the wrist. When you lift the watch up, the screen will show you the notification.
One of the most interesting features is known as “digital touch”, and Apple is calling this a new type of communication. Essentially, you’ll be able to select a contact and send them a nudge on their watch – drawing on your watch screen and having your drawing sent over, with a haptic notification for the receiver. Perhaps the coolest part of this is that you can even send your actual pulse to someone – something that has the potential to become a new sort of romantic gesture. (Not to mention a great way of monitoring Gran’s health from afar).
The Apple Watch also includes NFC – so you can apparently use it to do stuff like unlock hotel rooms (depending on apps, of course) – and it will also work with Apple Pay.
Apple has also released a full SDK for third party developers, so expect to see tonnes of apps adding support soon.
The Apple Watch – as expected – won’t be available until early next year, and will be around $349 when released – which is about £215. So we reckon £250 when it reaches the UK.