Apple joins the smartwatch race with Apple Watch


No its not the iWatch but just like there was that surprise naming of the third generation iPad “The New iPad”, it seems like Apple just wanted to avoid the predictability of the whole affair while keeping us interested in its first ever smartwatch. Of course we were going to be interested either way. Apple has a reputation of not being first to do things but working in the background until it gets it right then shows the world how exactly things should have been done from the start. That was the case with the MP3 players and the iPod, the smartphones and the iPhone and recently, the tablets and the iPad. Will the Apple Watch do the same?

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Just like other smartwatches we’ve seen from the slew of Android Wear watches to Samsung’s Tizen-powered Gear devices to the Pebble, smartwatches act like timepieces as expected and then do something more. Like being helpful health-wise and removing the actual need for a separate fitness band. The Apple Watch also follows suit here as it is tailor-made for telling you the time, enhancing your payments at the till (works with the new Apple Pay tap-to-pay system) and more. Like being your go-to workout guy. It has a heart rate sensor for just that. Also built in is extensive support for Siri just like Android Wear watches have Google Now. Siri will give you turn by turn directions as you drive by reading Maps for you as well as allow you to send text messages without ever having to go through the pain of entering anything physically on a tiny screen.

Current smartwatches make you swipe away endlessly as you get from one screen or menu to the other. Since smartwatches have tiny displays, there may come a time when you actually need to zoom in. How do you do that? Apple introduced a jog-dial-like round knob for that. Named “Digital Crown”, it is expected to do anything from being your go-to button when you want to quickly exit a certain screen (acts like a homebutton of sorts. Samsung’s Gear watches have an actual physical home button) to providing the equivalent of a context sensitive menu (right click on your computer).

The Apple Watch is available in two sizes: 38 mm and 42 mm. Yes rounded smartwatch displays are all the rage for Android lovers but version 1.0 of the Apple Watch simply comes rectangular. There’s even a taptic engine to sense the force applied on the display so that it can respond different based on the amount of force applied. It also has interchangeable bands and there are gold flavours of the watch as ell. Only your pocket will limit you as to what you can and can’t pick.

The Apple Watch will come in three versions: Apple Watch (made of stainless steel), Apple Watch Sport (using anodized aluminum) and Apple Watch Edition (with 18-karat gold). We’re sure the gold Watch will cost an arm and a leg but for those of you that are simply interested in the base model (Apple Watch), that will go for $349 only. You’ll only be able to fiddle with one starting from early next year though.

It’s too early to judge the impact the Apple Watch will have on the industry but for the record, it is beautiful. As expected Apple did not disappoint in the looks department. The design is on point. I hope the functionality is as well. There are quite a number of interesting watchfaces and it will be interesting to see what developers can do with the SDK Apple is providing so that they can create apps and other amazing stuff for the Watch. Apple Watch will only work with the iPhone 5 or later.