Apple Watch: 10 things we know about Apple Inc.'s new smartwatch
With just a week to go for the much-anticipated mass launch of the Apple Watch, news about how the watch is set to revolutionise wearables is getting hotter.
Apple gave us a brief glimpse of the Apple Watch last September, when it unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Since then, not much was known about what the new Apple wearable will sport under its hood and the launch timeline, apart from the fact that it was coming “early 2015”.
Now, of course, the March 9 Apple Watch event is just a week away, and news, rumours, anecdotes and speculation about its features are flying thick and fast.
To top it, a source no less than Tim Cook, Apple CEO, has already leaked details about Apple Watch’s killer features, and we all know now that it will replace our car keys, as reported in The Telegraph.
As detailed during the September event, the Apple Watch will come with its own crowning glory – rotating the traditional side-winder, called the digital crown, will help users zoom in and out, scroll, and navigate, putting to rest fat-finger concerns of users like me who might be a little hesitant to use the touch panel of such a small display device.
But while that was known six months ago, here are 10 things that still not many know Apple Watch will do for us.
#1 Tells time. Apple’s not reinventing the wheel here, and so will allow the watch to also tell time. Jokes apart, as Cook has reportedly said, the new Apple Watch will be a rather precise time-keeper, correct to 50 milliseconds. “Working with iPhone, Apple Watch continually checks against the definitive global time standard with the same precision found in GPS satellites. If you move from one time zone to another, Apple Watch automatically adjusts,” Apple says.
“It does everything a watch should, but in ways no other watch ever has,” it adds. The Apple Watch is also connected to your iOS calendar, contacts, and schedule. As Apple puts it, in addition to showing you the time, Apple Watch actually understands what time means to you.
#2 Charges Magnetically. Apple will be using a wireless charger for its Apple Watch, a first for the Cupertino-based company. The firm claims that, for the user, charging the watch in the dark will be as easy as it is to wear one. “In fact, our goal was to make Apple Watch easy to charge in the dark,” it says. So, we should be able to charge Apple Watch with our eyes closed – literally. “Without looking. While being only partially awake,” says Apple.
In addition, Cook has said that the battery will last all day, putting to rest earlier concerns about how long a battery charged wirelessly could last. “We arrived at a solution that combines our MagSafe technology with inductive charging. It’s a completely sealed system free of exposed contacts. And it’s very forgiving, requiring no precise alignment,” the firm notes. “You simply hold the connector near the back of the watch, where magnets cause it to snap into place automatically.” Voila. But do keep in mind that it will perhaps still need a good night’s rest (read: charge) to be fully alert the next day.
#3 Taps you to better health. Apple’s calling the Watch “our most personal device yet,” and it seems to have left no pebble unturned to achieve that goal. With health wearables now available a dime a dozen, Apple needed something significantly superior to stand out from the crowd.
“Just as Apple Watch is designed to keep you more efficient, organised, and productive, it’s also made to keep you moving. Because being active is vital to living a healthy life,” it notes. Several wearable (and non-wearable) health-assistant devices out there in the market today help one to keep track of the calories burnt, steps taken and stairs climbed – so Apple has taken it the proverbial step further.
The Watch will – literally – prod you to get up and take a walk every hour you’ve been sitting. The Watch will gently tap your wrists when you’ve been physically idle for an hour, reminding you to, to paraphrase Nike’s tag-line, just move it. And, when you do so, it wil also give you ‘credit’ for it. “To help minimise your sedentary time throughout the day, Apple Watch senses when you stand and move just a bit and gives you credit when you do,” Apple explains.
#4 Changes the 'face' of time. Apple Watch comes with a full laundry list of faces. “Most watches are designed with a single face. But Apple Watch comes with a range of watch faces — from traditional to playful to artful to educational. You can change them whenever you like, and explore many different ways to see time,” says Apple, offering no less than 11 faces of its new timepiece.
Apple Watch faces are designed to be extensively customisable, says Apple. “Some complications [specialised functions] are traditional, such as moon phases or sunrises and sunsets. And some are unique to Apple Watch, like stock quotes, weather reports, your next calendar event, and a daily activity tracker.”
Apple’s new smartwatch also presents the popular stopwatch function in digital, analog, or hybrid view. “It can even show you a real-time average of your lap times on a graph — something you won’t find on other watches,” Apple adds.
As Apple puts it, “we all share the same time. But what happens during that time is different for everyone. So Apple Watch doesn’t just keep accurate time. It allows you to see time in the ways that are most meaningful — and useful — to you”.
#5 Guides your life engine. This may just revolutionise the way we tend to interact with others. While digital pokes and pranks have so far been restricted to images and sound pings, Apple Watch’s new Taptic Engine is bringing it to the physical realm. “It’s called the Taptic Engine, a linear actuator inside Apple Watch that produces haptic feedback. In less technical terms, it taps you on the wrist,” explains Apple.
The Taptic Engine will, through tapping the wrist combined with subtle audio clues (from a specially engineered speaker driver), alert the wearer about various things, like guiding you on the right turn to take while jogging (courtesy Maps app), or let you know that another Apple Watch wearer is in the same room. Giving the phrase ‘slap on the wrist’ a new lease of life, it’ll allow your spouse or love interest to warn you against staring too much at a party without the proverbial glare. It will also allow you to send your heartbeat to whoever you choose to send it to – pity the watch will be on store shelves a few weeks after Valentine’s Day.
#6 Pays it forward. The Apple Watch will offer a new interface for Apple Pay, marking a huge step forward for it. When you use you Apple Watch to make a payment, you will both hear and ‘feel’ the confirmation. “A gentle pulse and beep confirm that your payment information was sent,” says Apple. And it’ll be easier too, says Apple. “Just double‑click the button next to the Digital Crown and hold the face of your Apple Watch near the contactless reader,” it says.
#7 Is an even more personal assistant. Siri will become even more ubiquitous once the Apple Watch is on your wrist. As Apple puts it, “having Siri with you at all times means you can access it that much more quickly and conveniently. And be even more spontaneous with your requests.” All you’ll need to do is raise your wrist and say ‘Hey, Siri,’ or press and hold the Digital Crown to dictate messages, get turn-by-turn directions, or stay up to date on your events. “You’ll get an instant response to your query,” Apple promises.
#8 Three avatars. The Apple Watch comes in two sizes (38mm and 42mm height), and three different collections: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.
The Apple Watch avatar features stainless steel and space black stainless steel cases, and comes with sapphire crystal glass. There’s a choice of three different leather bands, a link bracelet, a Milanese loop, and a band made from a high-performance fluoroelastomer.
The Sport collection cases are made from lightweight anodised aluminium in silver and space grey. The display is covered by Ion-X glass. And the matching fluoroelastomer band comes in five different colours.
The Edition collection features six expressions, each of which has the case crafted from 18-karat gold that Apple claims it has developed to be up to twice as hard as standard gold. The display covered with polished sapphire crystal, and it boasts of a designer band.
#9 Has a tonne of apps. Apple Inc. has reportedly gone to town with the number of apps it has designed for its Watch, like Passbook, Siri and Smart Reply. Of course, it will be third-party app developers that will be responsible for the success – or failure – of the Watch, but it is getting clearer that with the launch just a week away, every app developer worth his ambition is burning the midnight’s oil to come out with one more killer app for the Watch. From social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) to cars (BMW, Ford, Ferrari) and airlines (American), an Apple Watch app is being developed by everyone. Hotel operator Starwood has, in fact, announced that members of its SPG program can check-in through Apple Watch (and iPhones), and then will be able to open their rooms with an Apple Watch.
#10 Notifies You, Discreetly. Apple says its Watch notifications take on a whole new feel because they discreetly come right to your wrist. “And they’re designed to let you address or dismiss them just as subtly,” it notes. Because, unlike the smartphone, a smartwatch touches your skin, Apple says it was able to add a physical dimension to alerts and notifications — “you’ll feel a gentle tap when you receive an incoming message”.
In addition, Apple says you can choose to have third-party app notifications show up on your Watch. “Notifications built with WatchKit can go even further by allowing you to take action or respond right from your wrist,” it adds. Apple Watch also allows you to connect with your favourite people in some new, spontaneous ways not possible with any other device, it concludes.
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