Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki via Flickr.
Wearable technology, and smartwatches in particular, have been around for years but have yet to make much of a splash among consumers. Will the new Apple Watch catch on?
If anyone can spur a wearable revolution, many believe it will be Apple. The tech giant, with its legacy of innovation, trendy reputation, and cult-like following, though rarely first is almost always on top: from iPods to the iPhone to the iPad, Apple has been a transformative force to be reckoned with.
The Apple Watch, which launched in March 2015 and released in April, sold more in day one through pre-orders than competitor, Google’s Android Wear, sold in all of 2014.
A recent survey of US and UK citizens found that a stunning one in four were interested in Apple’s new product. Whether its the power of the brand or the tech itself, Apple could be on to something huge again.
The Apple Watch: What it does, and for whom[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”T0VpKZIH0ffYtAghNxqmj5vvwOdy4tq3″]One of the major roadblocks that has kept wearables like smartwatches from ubiquity is purpose and utility — or a lack thereof. The Apple Watch, like other smartwatches, handshakes with your iPhone (IOS8) to push notifications and simplify applications, allowing for convenient hands-free usage.
But if you’ve got a phone and don’t mind spending the extra five seconds taking it out from your pocket, you can see why a smartwatch could seem superfluous.
Apple knows this, but they’ve got some tricks up their sleeves. The company is baiting specific types of people, including:
- Fitness Fanatics: The Apple Watch’s built in health apps monitor heartbeats, measures how and how much you move, and encourages wearers to be active and healthy.
- Productivity People: Apps that allow wearers to track time and task completion by a tap of the wrist hope the Apple Watch will act as a convenient productivity booster — so long as its presence isn’t distracting.
- Messaging Moguls: Forget texting — the Apple Watch lets users connect with friends and loved ones in unique ways like sketches, sending “taps” and heartbeats, and responding to messages with animated emojis, location markers, or soundclips.
- Rich People: The Apple Watch currently ranges in price from $349 for a standard Sport Edition to $17,000 for an 18-karat gold encased Apple Watch Edition. Since Apple products have long been considered a status symbol, it’s no surprise that celebrities like Beyonce have already been spotted sporting the most expensive product.
Is it worth the hype?
Reviews for the Apple Watch have been mixed so far. Like other Apple products, it’s received high praise for its beautiful and detailed, lightweight design, comfort, impressive hardware, screen quality, and basic utility.
Unique features include:
- Force Touch: A harder touch down on the watch’s screen differs from a light touch, not unlike a right click on a mouse.
- Taptic Engine: The Apple Watch is capable of gently tapping the wearer back when you receive a message or notification.
- Glances: Swiping up on the Apple Watch shows you custom information, quick, like the weather, time, maps or calendar.
- Digital Crown: A twist on the traditional watch crown that allows you to zoom and scroll on your screen.
Here are some other elements that may also hold the Apple Watch back:
- A steep learning curve: With so many new and quirky navigational features, it can be difficult and frustrating to get a hang of.
- Battery: The Apple Watch must be charged nightly, and lasts roughly 18 hours — not bad, but not as good as many Android smartwatches.
- Tattoo confusions: Tatted wrists allegedly confuse the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor — and even worse, could do the same to people with dark skin.
- Buggy: Any first generation tech problem is bound to have software bugs — the Apple Watch has several, including the watch draining iPhones of battery, and needing to be reset to charge properly.
Positive and negative aspects aside, it’s clear that the Apple Watch is off to a bright start. While competitors like Android Wear offer more style variety and lower prices, the Apple Watch already has many unique and promising features.
Heightened interest indicates that tides could be turning, making smartwatches useful — though not yet necessary — for not just geeks and fitness freaks, but the average person. Since the Apple Watch only works for Apple, wearable popularity could actually turn Android users and others on to smartwatches, too.
Even so, for those wary of jumping in too soon, it may be wise to wait for the next generation — especially if it comes with a smaller price tag — after the initial kinks are worked out.