Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Analysing the Apple Watch - My Thoughts On The Features and Design


The wrist is an interesting place for technology. Combining your watch and phone, I believe is a good step.  Notifications on your wrist is a great idea. You won't always need to pull your phone out of your pocket or bag.  But without being managed properly, you may end up with a lot of spam popping up on your wrist.

The long awaited iWatch …no wait, Apple Watch was revealed recently (last month) and I finally just got around to writing down my thoughts! So here they are.


There it is (above). Many of the different variations of the Apple Watch!

While the Android Wear watches are limited down to more notification like features, Apple is cramming a whole app ecosystem on your wrist. Apple’s demo shows off a cloud of colored circles. So many that they needed to invent a way to zoom in on the watch to see more details.

The Digital Crown. Apple has re-invented the crown on a watch. On the Apple Watch, the Digital Crown is used to zoom in and out, and to scroll up and down in certain apps. This also allows for a way to interact with what’s on the screen, without touching it.

The Apple Watch of course is made to be paired with the iPhone. It relies on the iPhone for many features to work. You can connect a Apple Watch to a iPhone 5 or later.


The Apps. 

Of course the Apple Watch comes with Apps! The watch will contain small version of your Apple favourites like:

Messages. You can receive and read a message on your watch. You can also reply by dictating a message, sending a voice message, or selecting from the preset options. And if you don’t feel like talking, you can send one of Apple’s new animated emojis.

Phone. There is a in-built speaker on the Apple Watch. You can make and receive as Apple writes “quick chats”. You can also transfer calls to your iPhone or to your car’s speakerphone / Bluetooth headset.

Mail. Emails will also appear on your wrist. You can read, flag, mark, or send to the trash, or open the message on your iPhone.

And then there’s also other apps like: Calendar, Maps, Passbook (with Apple Pay), Music, Alarm, Stopwatch, Weather, Siri, Music and more…

Apple tried to invent new ways of communicating with the Apple Watch. They came up with three features which really fall short of sounding at all useful.

I can feel your heartbeat. In the new friend contact mode, hold down with two fingers to share your heartbeat. Why on Earth would I ever want to share my heart beat? Apple says, “It’s a simple and intimate way to tell someone how you feel.” I can think of a better intimate way to share my heart beat with someone - it uses an old method called, ‘touch’. And it doesn’t involve a expensive piece of technology.

Tap. Apple’s more annoying version of Facebook’s “Poke”. With the Apple Watch, you can send ‘taps’ to other Apple Watch users. Apple’s example for this feature is, your at a party and you tell your friend or partner, “Hey, let’s get out of here”, with a three tap signal. While you may get some use out of this feature - it’ll probably be limited.

Sketch. There’s nothing better than trying to draw on a small 1.5 or 1.3 inch screen. With the Apple Watch, you can sketch a little crapping drawing and that sends automatically to your friend on the other end. Get ready for a lot of pointless smiley faces.

Walkie-Talkie. A feature that I don’t believe was shown off. Apple describes this as, “a fun alternative to a phone call, use the built-in speaker and microphone to trade spur-of-the-moment sound bites with friends.” Wow, I really hope this is a recording that sends to your friend(s) - So, a voice message - and not a sound bite that will just randomly play. Wouldn’t that be fun?! Even more lame is that Apple needs to calls this “Walkie-Talkie”. No, it’s a voice message. And who wants to hear “spur-of-the-moment” thoughts, anyway! Just, no!

And there's third party apps that will be available as well.


Health. 

There was a lot rumours about the Apple Watch being health focused. We didn’t really get what many were expecting, but you can take a quick look at your daily health goals with daily rings:

Move: tells you how many calories you’ve burnt by moving.

Exercise: tracks “any activity performed at the level of a brisk walk or above”.

Stand: Tracks how long the Apple Watch has sensed that your were standing during the day. Standing for at least one minute for 12 different hours will complete your daily ring.

There is also the Workout app which shows real-time stats, goals, and workout summaries.


The Design. 
The rumours were way off with this one. Apart from getting right the small 1.5 and 1.3 inch screens, and having a variety of options that could range into the thousands of dollars. Many claimed Apple was working on a curved screen. Then we got a curved glass edge on the screen. Not the same thing people. For future reference, a curved screen means the screen itself curves - not the glass. Even Samsung made curved screen smartwatches - maybe because they thought Apple was working on one? I don’t know.

So no curved screen, or even a circular watch design, instead the Apple Watch turned out to be a slightly rectangular block on changeable bands.

Coming in two sizes. 38mm and 42mm (height), with a approximate thickness of around 12 mm.

It seems Apple wanted this watch to scream, ‘fashion!’ Everyone is unique so why not make the Apple Watch look like how you want it too? Apple offers three different case finishes. Stainless steel. Anodised aluminium. And 18-carat gold.

There are also 6 different types of changeable bands including the; Link Bracelet, Sport band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, and Milanese Loop.


Watch Faces. A round analog face on a square digital watch - never looks good. The Apple Watch is NOT an exception. Those circular faces look horrible. Talk about skeuomorphism! Trying to be something it’s not. Luckily there are many different watch faces you can choose from, and they all have different combinations and features you can change. Not sure if third-party developers can make their own?


Overall the Apple Watch is customisable. That’s one thing they done right. From the Watch case finishes, to the variety of bands, and Watch face styles and colors to go with it, you can make your Apple Watch unique. Unfortunately it’s design is not the best. It’s square, it’s more on the feminine side of design, but still looks nerdy. It’s kind of thick. Did I mention it’s square?  


Wait. It’s time for the Apps-Reviewed Smartwatch Design Awards!

And the winner of the best (current) designed smartwatch is…

The flat-tire design from Motorola! 


The Moto 360 looks like a classy analog digital watch. It’s has standard changeable bands. And comes in two nice colors. It’s too bad it runs that Google Android Wear software.

Also while it’s design is nice, it is a bit thick (Apple Watch is thicker), and I hear the battery isn’t so good, and it can’t even receive/make a phone call (what’s up with that!) If I can’t use a smartwatch like Dick Tracy or a Power Ranger, I ain’t buying it.


While we’re talking about design, what about the general interface of Apple Watch OS? I must say the Watch OS, looks kind of dated before it’s even released. When compared to competitors like Android Wear, the Apple Watch OS doesn’t in many places look as nice. The U.I. seems crowded and not as ‘clean’ looking. I hope the interface is still unfinished because it looks that way. Anyone who wants to see a comparison between the Apple Watch OS and the Moto 360’s, check out this article from arstechnica.com.


A lot of the Apple Watch features seem to be targeted to towards a young (teen) audience. Too bad Apple over priced the Apple Watch with a starting price of $349. Apple did not try and be competitive with the price.

And plus, does Apple expect you to upgrade your watch like your iPhone? Do they plan on releasing a new and improved Apple Watch every year? Upgrading your phone every two years may be an acceptable expensive to many because you’re paying a monthly contract anyway, but buying a new watch every one to two years that could cost anywhere between $349 to thousands of dollars?! Yeah right!

Here’s what Apple doesn’t seem to understand. People spend $500 to thousands of dollars on a nice analog watch because it will last a lifetime. The smartwatch is expected to be outdated and worthless after a couple of years. Apple should of came out with a cheaper more competitive smartwatch, one that more people would want to buy.      

The Apple Watch is a luxury item. It’s in no way a necessary purchase. I would even recommend, if you can, holding off from buying this watch. Later models are sure to have better improvements, better features, better battery life, a thinner design… But, if you’re really keen on having a smartwatch, and have the money to spend - then go ahead!  

Well that's my brief rundown of the Apple Watch. There will surely be more to come early next year when the Apple Watch is released.



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