Apple announced its Apple Watch back in September 2014 with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at a media event in Cupertino, Calif and now the Watch has been finally released with the availability date of 24 April 2015 with pre-orders starting from April 10, 2015. With the launch of Apple Watch, everyone is expecting it to be the beginning of new era for the wearable gadgets or smart watches. The existing smart watches which are mostly running Android Wear produced the exciting waves in the electronics ocean but failed to produce any big sweeping wave for the consumers.
Thus many believe and rightly believe that the Apple Watch will give a chance to Android Wear to flourish as well. The Watch is supposed to improve the fitness trackers market as well and already everyone is including the Watch among the best activity trackers despite its short battery life and other limitations. We will next discuss all the key features of Watch including design, specifications, pricing and other details. In the meantime, if you want to check some Android Wear smart watches, you can read about Motorola Moto 360, Samsung Galaxy Gear and LG G Watch R as well.
Introducing the Apple Watch:
Apple is very clear about its goal for the Apple Watch that is to change the way of life people live. In the words of its own CEO Tim Cook:
If you think about the MP3 industry, we weren’t the first company to make an MP3 player, there were lots of companies in this. They weren’t used very much.. […]
I see the smart watch category very much like that. There are several things that are called smart watches, but I’m not sure you could name any. There hasn’t been one that changed the way people live their lives. At Apple, that’s our objective. We want to change the way you live your life.
While the goal set for the Watch is really tough but when we look back at the history of Apple, it has a noticeable impact on the gadgets industry. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad really changed the way of doing things for us. But will the Watch follow the same trend and bring a real life change? This is a million dollars question right now but we can for sure decide until the end of the year.
The Apple Watch or any other smart watch is not only the watch, yet we have music player like an iPod, a fitness tracker like Fit-bit with heart-rate measurements and it allows you to communicate via messages, calls, and audio recordings.
Apple Watch Official Introductory Video by Apple explains the functionality and the philosophy behind the Watch along with its design.
The Apple Watch will be available for sale in April 2015 in three different versions. With two sizes of each version therefore it would be release with six versions. First version would be a metal and glass sports model. Second stainless steel. The third would be a solid gold timepiece. The Watch would be compatible with the iPhone 5 and other iPhone models running iOS 8.2, and would rely on a connected iPhone to perform many of its functions. Let’s discuss all its features in details. With start price of $349 for an aluminum made Watch, you will have option to buy a stainless steel made Watch for $549. The Apple Watch Edition will start at $10,000 made of 18 Karat gold.
Apple Watch Pricing and Release Date:
The Apple Watch will be available for pre-orders on April 10, 2015. It will be sold in the markets from April 24, 2015. The end users will be able to try and experience the Watch at the same time in Apple Stores as well before pre-ordering. One will be able to take the appointment to experience the watch at stores where the sales staff of Apple will guide and help users exploring it and using it with their iPhone.
When talking about the prices of Apple Watch, it is not a simple matter. In brief, the Watch pricing will start from $349 and the 18-karat gold edition will be available for $17,000.
As we will discuss next, the Watch comes in three variants, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. In addition to this, users will have multiple options about the material of the casing of the watch as well. And the choice does not end here as the Watch will come in two sizes of 38mm and 42mm and there will be more than dozen bands available in different colors and of different material to choose from. If you have digested the above information (if not, read again and you will get it) you can understand the prices will be depended on at-least 4 main factors.
Factors to consider before you buy the Apple Watch:
1. Which variant of the watch will suit you best?
2. Which Size do you like either 38mm or 42mm?
3. Which band do you like ? and
4. What Material of the casing do you prefer?
Now that you understand, you have a wide variety to choose from (and this is the first time Apple introduced anything with so many variants), we will briefly list down the prices here. You can check the exact prices at Apple’s Online Store.
- Apple Watch Sport has ten variants. 38mm Apple Watch Sport will cost $349 42mm models will be available at $399. All the Apple Watch Sport will come with two bands in the box.
- The Apple Watch (Standard) will be available in twenty different models. It will start from $549 for 38mm and $599 for the 42mm for the stainless steel casings. Whereas the Watch with Milanese Loop will be available for $649 and $699, Link Bracelet for $949 and $999 and Space Black stainless steel combination will be available for $1049 and $1099 for 38mm and 42mm respectively.
- The Edition variant is made of 18-karat gold will be available for $10,000 for 38mm and $12,000 for 42mm for yellow or rose gold casing with sports bands. On the other hand, the same Apple Watch Edition will be priced at $15,000 for 42 mm and $17,000 for 38mm with gold casing and buckles.
A complete list of Apple Watch models and prices is available here.
Apple Watch Design, Technology and Specifications:
The gorgeous Apple Watch will come with three different versions, each with two different sizes and options of multiple color bands. You will find the Watch functional, fashionable, and adorable. It took three years to make this cool gadget and Jony Ive explained the philosophy behind it.
“You know how very often technology tends to inhibit rather than enable more nuanced, subtle communication?” he asks. This is the question that haunts the son of a craftsman: Is he making tools that improve the world or shut people down? “We spent a lot of time working on this special mechanism inside, combined with the built-in speaker” —he demonstrates on his wrist. You can select a chosen person, also wearing the watch, and transmit your pulse to them. “You feel this very gentle tap,” he says, “and you can feel my heartbeat. This is a very big deal, I think. It’s being able to communicate in a very gentle way.” In an Interview with Bloomberg
The Watch comes in two sizes of 42mm (1.7-inch) and a 390x312px resolution supporting 293ppi pixel density. Along with a relatively smaller 38mm (1.5-inch) with the resolution of 340x272px and pixel density of 290ppi. It comes in six casing materials, six interchangeable band options of different colors. It is also categorized into three different versions i.e. Sport for casual use, Apple Watch the standard one and the expensive Apple Watch Edition made of 18 karat gold. With these variations, there will be some two dozen options to choose from and that is why Apple is especially training its workers at Apple Stores to guide the buyers according to their choices.
Made with ion-strengthened or sapphire display, all models will have HD retina screen, sapphire made sensors at back and an NFC chip for Apple Pay support. The Apple Watch interface is very customizable and users will have choice to design their own interface like they can choose the model of their choice from two dozen variations. The interfaces include traditional analogue, digital and hybrid designs, cartoon characters and images with maximum options to customize. According to Apple, the Watch can be customized into millions of different interfaces. The ‘Digital Crown’ on the right side of the Watch allows end user to scroll, zoom and select different apps without touching the screen. There is another button just below the Digital Crown which lets you bring contact list on front and then communicate with the selected one in different way.
Processor and Memory & Connectivity:
The Apple Watch is equipped with the Apple S1 processor. This little S1 chip contains a 28nm application processor, storage, support for wireless , I/O, sensors and memory within itself and is claimed as powerful as the processor of iPhone 4S. Like always Apple did not release information about its processor but according to experts the S1 chip contains 8GB of internal memory and 512MB RAM.
The Apple Watch uses Broadcom BCM334 chip for connectivity, the same chip is used in iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3. With this chip, Apple Watch is able to support wireless connectivity i.e. Wi-Fi 8.2.11, FM and Bluetooth 4.0.
Sensors are the most important part of any smart watch. And Apple made classic efforts in this area as well. The Watch has sapphire made sensors on its back with optical heart rate sensors. The optical heart rate sensors use infrared to determine pulse rate. The Watch has a microphone, pressure sensors, and an accelerometer to make it a complete Activity tracker for you. It looks like Apple has collected all the latest fitness and activity tracking equipment into the Apple Watch!
Apple Watch Casing, Bands, and Collection:
Apple has categorized the Apple Watch into three main collections, the Apple Watch Sport, the simple or standard Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Edition. As we discussed above, Apple is offering a lot more in the area of exterior customization by means of different casings, bands and material all with different colors.
There are six options available for choosing the material of the body of the Apple Watch. Silver Aluminum, Space Gray Aluminum for Apple Watch Sport, Stainless steel, Space black stainless steel for standard Apple Watch, 18-karat gold, and 18-karat gold rose for Apple Watch Edition.
While the Apple Watch will be available in two different sizes made of six different materials. You will be able to choose a band of your choice as well. There are six different bands for the Apple Watch. Sport Band, a lightweight fluoroelastomer; Leather Loop, a band made of handcrafted leather; Link Bracelet, made of stainless steel; Modern Buckle made of Granada leather; Classic Buckle made of Dutch leather and Milanese Loop, metal band.
Apple Watch Sport:
The Apple Watch Sport is the lowest price tag the Watch. Made with Aluminum (Silver or Space Gray), the Sport is more for casual use. It will be available at $349 and will not support the sapphire display. The aluminum casing makes the Apple Watch Sport much stronger and lighter as compared to other alloys.
Apple Watch (Standard):
The Apple Watch (Standard) is made of stainless steel (Silver or Space Black). The stainless steel made Apple Watch will be heavier as compared to Aluminum made Apple Watch sport. The stainless steel Watch is more scratch resistant. The Apple Watch (Standard) price tag is $550.
Please note we call the Stainless Steel made Apple Watch as the Apple Watch (standard). This is to differentiate else Apple pronounce it as only ‘Apple Watch’ as compared to the Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch Edition
Apple Watch Edition:
And now let’s talk about the Apple Watch gold or the Apple Watch Edition as called by Apple. Made with 18 karat (yellow or rose gold) the Apple Watch Edition will be starting at the price tag of $10,000 and the most expensive will be available for $17,000. The gold used in the Edition is twice as hard as compared to the standard gold to keep it scratch-resistant. The Apple Watch Edition will be available with different bands like Modern Buckle, Classic buckle and Sport Band. You will be only able to buy it at luxury stores. The beauty of the Edition lies in its box as well. To charge your Watch Edition you will only need to place it in its Jewel box which is equipped with magnetic Charging pad.
Key Features of Apple Watch:
Apple Watch id the most accurate timepiece in the world, in Apple’s own words ‘incredibly accurate timepiece’ with an error margin of less than 50 ms. The Apple Watch features World Clock as well and checks the time against global standard time on a regular basis, keeping track of daylight savings and changes the time zone when the user travels from one part of the world to other.
The Apple Watch comes with different watch faces as well. These different watch faces, which are designed like an analog clock, or a Mickey Mouse face, can also be customized into more and one can get more details on the watch display, changing colors and other options.
You can add ‘complications’ to these customize-able watch faces according to your needs like showing alarm, weather information, sun rise and the sun set information. Other than the complications you can add the ‘Glances’ to the Apple Watch Display as well. These ‘glances’ are like a swipe and similar to swipes on iPhone Home screen. You can add and see more relevant information with details on these glances like next meeting time, sports scores, stock prices and all you would like to see with a quick swipe.
Apple Watch Battery Life and Charging:
Battery life is the biggest concern with every smart watch available in the markets. You do not have to worry about the battery of the traditional watch for months at-least if not for years. On the other hand, there is no smart watch available in the market which has a battery life of more than 24 hours in practical.
Apple claims, the Apple Watch battery will last for 24 hours and it will have ‘all-day battery life’. But do not think of it as 24 hours usage, the ‘all-day battery life’ slogan is pure marketing tactic of Apple. In actual the Apple Watch will remain chargeable for some 18 hours with normal usage. Apple calls it mixed usage, and this includes 90 notifications, 90-time checks, 30-minute workout and music playback and 40 minutes of app use.
On the other hand, the Watch will remain charged for only three hours with active phone calls. It will give almost 6 to 7 hours backup with active workouts and play audio. But if you use it just as a watch, it will last for 48 hours and will give the battery backup of 72 hours when using it in Power Reserve mode. The Power Reserve Mode, in the Watch, shuts down all the apps and functions. It only allows to tell you time, even if the battery of the Watch is low.
The Apple Watch will be charged completely in 2.5 hours and with the help of MagSafe inductive charger, you can get your Watch charged up-to 80 percent in one and half hours. The inductive charging feature of the Watch takes advantage of magnetic charger that sticks to the back of the device easily.
One can replace the Watch battery but only Apple made battery will be the only possible replacement. According to Apple, the 43mm Apple Watch remains charged longer than the 38mm Apple Watch. The accelerometer sensors built in the Apple watch let the watch remain blank when not in use to save the battery life and display the default watch face when one raises his/her wrist.
Force Touch and Taptic Engine:
Apple has introduced a pressure-sensitive technology calling it Force Touch. The new MacBook 2015 and 13-inch retina MacBook Pro will now come with Force Touch trackpad. The same Force Touch will be the part of the Watch. The Force Touch technology lets the device differentiate between ‘Soft Touch’ and ‘Hard Press’ and much similar to left click and right clicking. With Force Touch pressure sensitive technology, Apple also introduced vibration mechanism for its Watch calling it ‘Taptic Engine’. The Taptic Engine alerts the user in different ways about the notifications and other alerts.
Apple Watch will be Apple Pay and NFC compatible
You can use your Watch for instant payments as well. The Apple Watch is NFC and Apple Pay compatible and lets you use the latest payment methods with your Watch. To use the Apple Pay with the Watch, it should be paired with the iPhone on which Apple Pay is configured. Apple Pay is the latest payment technology enabled with iOS 8, the latest built of iOS and is enabled on iPhone 5 and on-wards. You can read here about how does the Apple Pay work.
To make a payment with the Apple Pay method through your watch, you will have to first enter a PIN code to enable Apple Pay on your watch. The built-in heart rate monitor sensors come into action here and secure the payments through skin contact. Thus if the Apple Watch is remove from your wrist, it will not be able to pay through Apple Pay and ask for the PIN.
iPhone pairing with the Apple Watch:
The Apple Watch works with iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with iOS 8.2 installed on it. Watch is not compatible with the older iPhone like iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S no matter if they are running on the latest iOS 8 version. Similarly you would not be able to pair the Apple Watch with the Android phones. The iOS 8.2 version has a pre-installed app for Apple Watch with the same name.
Once you pair your watch with the iPhone, you are able to access the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. The app lets you configure different settings, changing default glances, brightness and font size etc. You can control your Watch and switch to Airplane mode, DND mode and set a secure passcode. The same app lets you set the display to the left or right wrist.
– The Apple Watch Operating System:
Like the hardware of the Apple Watch is mainly based on the new processor Apple S1 as compared to the latest Apple A8 processors for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Watch has its own operating system called the Watch OS and for now it is only compatible with iOS 8.2 for iPhone. Although from the design perspective the end user finds a lot of similarities in between the Watch OS and the iOS 8 but in reality, the Watch Os for the Apple Watch is developed completely from the groud to take complete advantage of the hardware being used in it.
The beginning of the Watch OS starts with the Digital Crown. Pressing the Digital Crown lets you access the Watch home screen which displays all the installed apps on your Apple Watch. You can navigate the apps now with swipes of touch or use the Digital Crown.
Like the watch itself, the Watch OS is also in its initial stages of evolution. If We say the Watch OS as the subset of the iOS with some limited functionality and features it will not be wronged. You can feel the limitation while using the Watch like the Apps made for the Apple Watch are extensions of the iPhone apps, are made on iPhone and then the UI extends on the Apple Watch. While Apple released the watch-kit for the developers, to make apps for the Watch, couple of months after the announcement of its smart watch back in November 2014, the watch-kit offers limited access to the Watch to the developers. One can not use the more advance features like NFC, accelerometer, Taptic Engine and some basic features like microphone and speakers are also inaccessible when these lines are being written.
Despite developers cannot use the full access to the Apple Watch hardware, one can still make the apps which offer watch faces, Complications, Glances, actionable notifications. Apple should release an advance version of the watch-kit SDK with more control over the Watch else the Jail-breaking is inevitable!
The Apple Watch offers two different notifications a ‘Short Look’ and a ‘Long Look’. The ‘Short Look’ notification is more about receiving and reading the notification. Whereas the ‘Long Look’ notifications let the users take actions on the respective notifications. Suppose you get the image on your Watch, this will be the Short Look notification but when you comment on the post. This comment is possible by using the Long Look notification only.
Messages app to send/receive simple text messages when paired with iPhone.
Phone app lets you receive phone calls on your Watch directly.
Mail application will let you read emails and take necessary actions.
Calendar app will help you keep track of the appointments.
Maps app to help you with navigation.
Passbook to keep your tickets and cards info safe and available when required.
Siri to control your Watch with voice.
Activity app keeps track of your daily routine and fitness.
Workout app is different from the Activity app and keeps detailed track of the workouts like calories burnt.
Like every other smart watch, Apple considers fitness as a big part of the Apple Watch and it will have its own fitness apps as well. There will be some third-party fitness apps also available by launch and as I said earlier the watch will have two own fitness apps. The first of the Apple’s own fitness app will track your daily activities like exercise and the second app will track your dedicated workouts like cycling and both these apps sync back to a hub app on the iPhone. There are four sapphire lenses on the back of the Watch which will measure heart rate. These four sapphire lenses are the combination of infrared and LED technology which aims to provide better results than other heart-rate monitors.
Like the ‘Apple Watch’ app to pair it with iPhone, there is an ‘Activity’ app on the iPhone with iOS 8.2 as well and is enabled when paired with the Watch. This Activity app keeps a history of your activities and workouts as shown in the images below. Along with History section, there is an Achievement section in the App as well to set different targets and keep track of them.
Along with the above-mentioned apps, the Watch will be equipped with an app for Music, Camera Remote app, Remote app. It will also come with an app for Weather updates, Stocks, Photos, Alarm, Stopwatch, Timer, World Clock and the Settings app for configuring your Watch as you like.
Third Party Apps for the Apple Watch:
As we discussed earlier, Apple released the watch-kit SDK for developers to make apps for the Apple Watch back in November last year. Apple also has listed down some major third-party apps available for the Apple Watch on its website. The Nike+ running app, Shazam, Instagram, and a lot of different apps are available on the App Store.
Apple’s main focus is on to promote third party apps for its smart watch and Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed this as:
I think everyone’s going to have their favorite thing, just like when the App Store came out. Remember the saying ‘there’s an app for that? There’s an enormous number of things it will do.
Here is a video tutorial on how to make Apple Watch app in 50 minutes with watch-kit SDK if you are a developer and interested in developing apps for the Watch.
Apple Watch Comparison with Other smart watches:
The above chart shows a very detailed comparison of Apple Watch with other smart watches out there in the market. Thanks to thomsonreuters.com
Why Apple Watch is the only smart watch that matters [Infographic]:
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People were fascinated by the iPhod, iPhone, and iPad when they were initially realeased. However, the initial response wasn’t entirely positive and welcoming but after awhile the devices took hold and where lauded. On the other hand the smart watch of Apple has to prove its value on a more tough ground in front of real competition. Don’t you remember there was no competition when iPod and iPhone were first released? Will you compare Walkman with iPod? Certainly not. But in case of the Apple Watch, there are a lot of well settled players in the market. But for us Apple Watch is not going to fail because Apple has a plan to make it successful. Apple completely changed it course by introducing the Watch with so many models for people with different taste.
The only real problem Apple Watch is going to face is the shorter life span of the watch itself. Traditional watches last for the years to the contrary we are quite sure the 2nd gen of the Watch will replace the original Watch within a year. Does Apple has a solution for this? No one can stop Apple Watch becoming a huge success if the answer is in yes.