The Apple Watch. That’s what technology giant Apple Inc. is calling their latest greatest gadget.
The Apple Watch.
Not the iWatch, mind you. The Apple Watch.
Imagine the countless hours, the overtime, the salary increases, the painstaking creativity, ingenuity and 500 plus-member team it must have taken to, after three years in the making, finally settle on that awe-inspiring name.
Anyway, the brains from Cupertino’s finest revealed the “wearable tech” gadget as the grand finale to Tuesday’s Developer’s Conference — the live keynote address that Apple utilizes to announce new products and software. As any fanboy knows, rumors begin circulating months in advance, with everyone from NASA technology experts to soccer moms theorizing about what Apple will reveal. (The soccer moms are usually right.)
But lately, the real question has been: Can Apple still innovate, create competition and stir excitement in the technology marketplace? After the passing of Steve Jobs back in October 2011, fans and critics alike have complained that Apple seemingly gave up on building new products. I can’t blame them. The last “new” product Apple released was the iPad in April 2010. (The first model was nothing more than an oversized iPhone on steroids.) Since then, they’ve really done nothing but make improvements on their current products.
At the outset of the conference, CEO Tim Cook, modeling his usual blue jeans and oversized, untucked woven dress shirt, took the stage and announced the forthcoming release of two new iPhone models. This was a total yawn fest. Seriously, I opened a new browser tab and played PacMan while Cook rambled through the specs. There weren’t too many surprises with the iPhone 6 and the highly questionable naming of the iPhone 6PLUS. (Seriously, Apple?) The iPhone 6 is super slim, measuring 6.9mm while the 6PLUS measures 7.1mm. Speed has also been boosted with the installation of the second-generation A8 processor and a new M8 next-generation motion processor. Despite rumors of an improved camera, the new models still boast the 8 megapixels camera — but with new features including an improved image sensor and video enhancements. For most iPhone users, the choice will come down to size. The iPhone 6 screen measures 4.7 inches while the 6PLUS measures 5.5 inches — an obvious attempt to cater to the new “phablet” craze and compete with models like the Samsung Galaxy.
As a loyal iPhone user, I’ll probably opt for the 4.7 inch screen dimensions of the iPhone 6. My iPhone 5 fits discreetly in my back pocket (a nice feature when it comes to secretly texting at work), while the iPhone 6PLUS would be too big and bulky.
Now, back to the iWatch…er, I mean…Apple Watch — a device whose announcement was met with deafening cheers and applause from the hundreds in attendance, followed by a standing ovation, all before a photograph of the dang thing had even appeared on the oversized screen looming over Tim Cook’s head. Apparently Apple’s logo combined with the word “Watch” was enough to shake the heavens and the Earth.
I have to admit that, at first glance, I was impressed with the stunning design and attention to detail — traits for which Apple has always been known. The watch isn’t round, but it looks good, better than I thought it would. The endless options of unique styles, removable and interchangeable wristbands, colors, varying digital faces and other specifications really give it a unique, personal feel that other smart-watches on the market have yet to capitalize on. Apple is even offering smaller versions for the ladies and larger, more masculine faces and styles for men (smart move), as well as sweat-resistent “sport” bands. See a full gallery of every Apple Watch style here.
But, the more I looked at it, the more I realized that the Apple Watch bears a slight structural resemblance to the Samsung Gear smart-watch — just a little more fine-tuned, polished and made with more precision, care and remarkable craftsmanship. Sorry, it had to be said. Granted, this was likely part of Apple’s strategy: Wait for Samsung to make a watch, then see what consumers like and don’t like, and then release a watch that caters to those needs and wants.
By far, the best feature about the Apple Watch is the sleek user interface — which is navigated by what Apple is calling the “digital crown.” Seriously? Can’t we just call it a dial? You know, the “knob” on the side of every watch, Apple?
iPhone users will instantly recognize many of the icons and the layout of the home screen. (See photos.) The Apple Watch will come outfitted with several health and fitness apps, including a heart rate monitor, step counter and other capabilities.
I’ll admit, halfway through Cook’s spiel, I started wondering if Apple could convince me to blow $350 to $550 on one (yes one) of their watches. And, honestly, they haven’t convinced me yet.
As always, the hardcore fans will line-up at storefronts two days before the release, eager to get their hands on Apple’s latest shiny new toy. I’m usually one of those people, as long as I actually have a reason to use that toy. (Like my new retina-display MacBook Pro.)
The Apple watch starts at $349 and that’s for the smaller ladies sizes. If you’re a guy, you’re probably going to want a full sized watch, which will, of course, drain your wallet a bit more. If you decide to go for one of the 18-Karat gold Apple watches, that’s going to run you around $500. Of course, there are plenty of other cheaper metallic builds, like aluminum and stainless steel. The watch will also come standard with options for controlling your Apple TV devices (sold separately), it’s water resistant (but not waterproof), and it can send walkie-talkie style voice messages to other Apple Watch wearers. (A little creepy if you ask me.)
But don’t let all these cool features distract you from the fact that the Apple Watch requires a simultaneous connection (likely via Bluetooth) to your iPhone for the majority of its features to work — features like texting, voice calls, GPS mapping, sending sketches, sharing photos, e-mails and streaming your iTunes music library. Features like weather, stocks, world clocks, etc. should function independently of your iPhone. The battery life for the Apple Watch has yet to be revealed, but most analysts say that it should run for a full day on one charge. (So you’ll need to charge it overnight when you go to bed.)
Honestly, I’m not sure I see myself using an Apple Watch on a daily basis. I could be wrong. I’m an Apple fanatic, so I’m sure I’ll try the Apple Watch eventually. But for now, I’d like to see a smart-watch that can function more independently of the iPhone. I want to see an Apple Watch that can run on 4G or LTE and can be put on my iPhone data plan via my cell phone provider.
Maybe these options will be available in the future. Only time will tell. (See what I did there?)
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