Pre-orders started three days ago, deliveries will follow soon and the availability in Apple Stores will start April, 24th. The Apple Watch is reality! It will hit the markets! Read this in-depht story to get a first impression of the Apple Watch…
My friend Bani McSpedden was one of the few real traditional watch-writers invited to Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley for a briefing on the Apple Watch and the opportunity to experience it before release. Here are his first impressions. Bani McSpedden is watch editor of the Australian Financial Review and watch-next.com. Bani has been described as “the most widely recognised watch authority in Australia”.
Keeping a watch on Apple…
No one will be monitoring things more closely than traditional brands.
With deliveries of the long awaited Apple Watch commencing in many countries later this month, no one will be watching more closely than traditional watch brands.
This was flagged at the recent Baselworld watch fair, where despite not being on show, Apple’s newcomer was a hot topic, with opinions divided on the impact it will have on an industry dominated by the Swiss, and to a lesser extent the Japanese.
The head of LVMH watch brands Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith, Jean-Claude Biver, told attendees Apple was unlike previous competitors in that “they make as much in a month as the whole Swiss industry makes in a year.”
On record as saying he had initially been disappointed by the shape of the Apple Watch, he told me before the Basel fair that “the more I see the watch, the more I learn about it, the more I believe in its success.”
Apple is a threat for another reason – it’s a “cool” brand, the likes of which the Swiss have not come up against before.
In their favour, the Swiss, and at the high end Japan’s Grand Seiko, produce hand-crafted timepieces of such quality and complexity that they should continue to win hands-down when it comes to character and cachet. They are also largely obsolescence-proof.
Biver feels that the real threat is to lower-end timepieces, not mechanical masterpieces, but a question remains: what if young people in particular become accustomed to having something more multi-functional on the wrist than a simple time-teller? After spending a week with a pre-release watch my conclusion is that this could be a distinct possibility.
The Apple Watch at a glance…
You can pre-order the Apple Watch now, with delivery commencing two weeks later.
The watch comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm measured lengthways, with prices for the aluminium sport models $499 and $579; the steel models $799 and $879 and the gold cased ‘Edition’ models $14,000 and $17,000.
Silicon Sport: $79
Milanese chain-link and premium leather: $229
Magnetic buckle strap $379
Metal link strap $679
No more running late
The Apple Watch is incredibly accurate, keeping time within 50 milliseconds of the Coordinated Universal Time, and automatically recalibrating as you move from one time zone to another. So no, you won’t have to check it every other day.
More than the time
Apple offers a vast array of functions and apps in addition to the time, ranging from messaging to music, fitness to fun. These are accessed three ways: via the touch-sensitive face of the watch; by operating a Digtital Crown; and by pressing an elongated button below the crown.
Swipe for a quick glance
A simple swipe up from the watch face reveals ‘Glances’ that give you a thumbnail of various items ranging from the weather to your calendar or your location on a map. You can either swipe through different Glances, or tap on one to go to its app for deeper details.
The Digital Crown is Apple’s new input device, think of it as a mouse for your watch. By rotating it you can navigate without obstructing the screen view, using it for fine adjustments, and customizing the look of the watch. Pressing it once brings you back to the home screen, pressing and holding it gives access to resident voice commander Siri.
The Force be with you.
The Apple Watch boasts something called Touch Force, meaning its glass senses force, with a tap or a stronger press triggering access to a range of specific controls such as bringing up an action menu in Messages or a mode for selecting different watch faces.
Traditonal watches often have exotic inclusions like tourbillons to aid accuracy; the Apple has a Taptic Engine that powers a new system of alerts, whereby receiving a text message or map directions you’re notified with a gentle tap on the wrist and can even be used to transmit your heartbeat.
A timeless face
You can personalize your Apple Watch, choosing from traditional analog (hour and minute hands) faces or your own selection of digital displays. In addition you can opt for animated graphics ranging from butterflies to flowers or Mickey Mouse. The options are almost endless.
More than the usual complications
Like a traditional watch you can choose to display extra functions such as world time, solar time, moon-phases, timers and alarms, with the addition of sunrise and sunset indicators, stock quotes, calendar events, and your daily activity tracker. If you want more detail, tapping the complication opens the corresponding app.
You’ve got mail – nudge.
Notifications, mail, messages – or anything that appears on an iPhone Lock screen can be configured to appear on Apple Watch with a gentle tap to let you know its arrived. Notifications you don’t want to view immediately are placed into your Notification Center and a red dot appears at the top of the watch face to let you know it’s waiting for you. Swiping down from the watch face gives you access to them. Replying to a message you can choose a preset reply (based on the context of the message,) dictate a response and send it as a text or audio file, or even send an animated emoji.
The ‘Dick Tracy’ feature
With the Apple Watch you can make phone calls right from your wrist in three ways: by pressing the elongated button below the Digital Crown to access Friends; by tapping on the Phone app on the Home screen; or by using use Siri to call someone. (Just lift the watch and say “Hey Siri, call xxx”) You can answer calls on the watch or continue longer calls on your iPhone. To decline the call and send it straight to voicemail you simply cover the watch with your hand.
Thinking of you…
You access family, friends, favourites using the side button below the Digital Crown. Here you can message, call, or use Digital Touch to communicate ‘in fun and spontaneous ways’ by sending a finger-painted sketch, a tap (you can customize taps for different people) or even send your current heartbeat to a fellow Apple Watch owner. (Simply press two fingers on the display, and the watch’s built-in heart rate sensor does the rest.)
Where am I?
You can see where you are, what’s around you, and how to get somewhere three ways: by launching Maps from the Map Glance, by asking Siri for directions, or from the Home screen. The Digital Crown lets you zoom in and the best route is suggested by visuals and taps. You can switch between Walking or Driving view, drop a pin on a location, or hold the Digital Crown to ask Siri for more help.
Not camera shy
Of interest to the selfie-set will be the Apple Watch’s Camera Remote function that automatically opens the camera on your iPhone. You touch to focus using live preview, then set the timer or simply shoot.
The watch can store up to 500 photos (downloaded via the iPhone) which you swipe to browse, or use the Digital Crown to zoom in on.
Even more remote possibilities
You can control Apple TV or your iTunes library with the watch’s Remote app. which automatically finds signed in devices or lets you use a PIN to pair.
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