Apple's much anticipated Smart Watch was finally announced. There’s also a quirky surprise - Apple's have dropped the “I” choosing to instead call it the “Apple Watch”.
As with any Apple gizmo launch, legions of Apple and Android fan boys are already debating Apple Watch pros and cons. Here’s our take:
Need to Know
The Apple Watch comes in three flavours. There’s the basic starter edition. Apple are offering Sports model and a high-end “Apple Watch Edition”, finished in 18K gold for those with a bling thing.
They’re all the same watch. Only cosmetic touches and sticker prices differ.
Regardless of which you choose, they're all equipped with touch displays, protected by a layer of sapphire.
Driving the Apple watch is a mixture of touch gestures and twirling/pushing the "digital crown," on its side. Like Android wear powered devices, the Apple Watch will also play nice with voice commands as they’ll link back to Siri on an iPhone.
Aside from keeping time, the Apple watch is also a health-monitoring device. This sees infrared LEDs and photo sensors on its underside checking your pulse. Accelerometers also count other activity (does opening potato chip bags count as exercise?)
As you’d expect with any smart watch, the Apple watch will also ship with a pile of custom watch faces.
Under its hood the Apple Watch has an S1 processor, and makes use of the Wi Fi and GPS radios baked into an iPhone. Charging is also a biggie and Apple has opted for an inductive charger. This eliminates fragile contacts and adds to its ruggedness.
In what could be a killer feature, Apple has also added NFC. In theory this means the Apple Watch is usable as a cash card or even a hotel room key. At its launch, Apple talked up future Apple Watch apps that'll access home-automation widgets. Doing so needs an iPhone 5 or better.
Apple didn’t give a specific date for the Apple Watches launch but did say it’d be in early 2015.
• NFC – at the moment, the Apple Watch is the only smart watch supporting NFC and it could be a game changer.
• Design – this is subjective, but the use of premium materials and echoing the iPhone 6 design could be a winner
• Ecosystem – Apple already have a massive developer community and a thriving ecosystem. If even a fraction of these turn their attention to the Apple Watch, it could give Apple a sizeable lead
• Strap – It appears that Apple have opted for a proprietary strap system, which could limit strap choices.
• Ecosystem – The Apple Watch needs an iPhone 5 or better to work. Too bad if you’re an Android or windows phone owner.
Apple has some serious work ahead of them if they’re to take the smart Watch mainstream.
As a genre the Smart Watch category has been hot, but has only really smoldered - It has yet to fully blaze into existence. Pebble may have got things started - mine has become an indispensible part of my gadget ensemble - but few non-geeks know what a smart watch is.
This said, Apple have taken tech to the mainstream several times in the past, here’s hoping they can do it again.