Apple Watch will even tell the time when it lands in 2015, but you’ll need an iPhone to use it
Apple has made its long-awaited entry into the wearable technology market with the Apple Watch, a smartwatch that works with the iPhone and boasts a range of communication and health features.
The device works with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5S and 5C and runs a version of iOS designed specifically for smaller screens. The Apple Watch’s display is made from a single crystal of sapphire and can distinguish between tap and push gestures thanks to tiny electrodes surrounding it.
The screen itself is too small for ‘pinch and zoom’ with a ‘digital crown’ on the side of the device used to control many features. This crown is used to zoom, scroll and navigate, while it also acts as the home key and summons Siri.
Health and fitness
Information such as stocks, weather, maps and messages can be glanced at easily, while dictation means users can send voice-activated messages and the presence of ‘digital touch’ even allows you to send your heartbeat as an emoji.
There is a strong emphasis on health and fitness, with a hear rate sensor and accelerometer combining with a connected iPhone’s GPS and Wi-Fi to provide data for the health and workout applications, with data stored in the Healthbook on the smartphone.
The Apple Watch also has Passbook for boarding passes, can be used as a hotel key and will be compatible with the Apple Pay mobile wallet. Developer APIs should result in iOS applications with actionable notifications for the Apple Watch, while native applications should be available from next year.
Compatible iPhones are connected using 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 and the device is powered by a custom S1 System-in-package (SiP) that miniaturises an entire computer architecture into a single chip. The screen only switches itself when it is raised, something which should help extend its battery life, while the device is charged using an inductive charger.
Naturally, the smartwatch tells the time, and is accurate to within 50 milliseconds. Users can choose from 11 faces to customise their device, while they can also choose from a number of different straps.
Speaking at the launch event in California, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the watch would be available in three varieties and in 28mm or 34mm sizes from 2015, but promised it “would be worth the wait.” Prices are expected to start from $349.
Cook described the Apple Watch as “the most personal device we’ve ever created,” and “the next chapter in Apple’s story.”
“Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad,” he declared. “And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.”
Apple’s shareholders will be hoping the watch will increase revenues amid concerns that growth in the smartphone and tablet markets is slowing. Many manufacturers, including Samsung and Sony, have been looking to establish an early market lead in the smartwatch market, but observers believe Apple has a chance of assuming control, despite some concerns about a lack of standalone functionality and battery life.
“All eyes have been on Apple’s entry to the smart watch market, and sure enough they’ve brought their design chops and new hires to bring a truly attractive device to the table,” said Ernest Doku, tech expert at uSwitch. “A bit like Apple’s phones and tablets, the watch has an elegance and luxuriousness which has eluded the efforts of other manufacturers.
“Apple seems to have understood that, like jewellery, watches are highly personal. A choice of sizes, finishes and straps will no doubt convince people that a smart watch is worth investing in. However, the fact that users will also need an iPhone with their watch, and it’s therefore not a standalone gadget, was glossed over fairly rapidly.”
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