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Wearables Wednesday: the Apple Watch (again)

Wearables Main Pic

You may not be aware that today is “Wearables Wednesday”, which means covering a relevant piece of wearable tech, gadget or news item.

To kick things off, even though most tech sites on the planet have already contributed thousands of lines of opinion about this particular device, I feel the Apple Watch is an unavoidable first topic, simply because it is without doubt the hottest thing in wearables at the moment. Ewan has already written about the watch keynote, and we ran an online poll that found 58% of our audience intend to buy the Apple Watch Sport. It seems our readers are a tech-savvy, early adopter crowd (of course).

Rather than go into the minutiae of the various models, prices, and straps (or bands, as Apple seems to prefer calling them) – that information has already been covered elsewhere – let’s discuss the appeal of the Apple Watch in general and consider whether it really will kick off a revolution in wearables.

When I started writing for Mobile Industry Review in September last year, one of the very first pieces I wrote concerned the iPhone 6 launch event, where watch was also revealed for the first time, and I recall letting out an audible ‘whoop’ when the watch was presented. It really was that incredible to imagine all the potential benefits the device could have…

“Nobody wears a watch anymore”

That’s what I hear from the naysayers around me every day, and on countless online forums, about the reasons not to buy an Apple Watch (henceforth I will refer to it simply as the  Watch, as per it’s official name). To me, this is an irrelevant argument, because plenty of people do wear a watch in the modern world, but nowadays perhaps less so to tell the time; rather, a fashion statement of sorts, or simply because it just feels nice to wear an attractive timepiece.

From my perspective, I seldom leave the house without a watch (either a Tag Formula 1, or a Casio G-Shock Giez – yes, I own two watches already), mainly because I’m so used to it and feel quite naked without one. There is one situation however where I don’t wear a watch – when typing, when the metal strap on the Tag might scratch the finely crafted exterior of my MacBook Pro.

But the whole point against the argument that ‘nobody wears a watch because you can use a mobile phone’ is somewhat redundant. Regular watches don’t give you the ability to make a phone call and pretend you’re Dick Tracy, regular watches don’t allow you to instantly see a map and navigate a strange city by gentle taps on the wrist, or alert you to all kinds of useful notifications. You could pull out a phone, but surely having everything right there on your wrist is infinitely preferable to constantly checking a phone in your pocket or sat on your desk?

While on the topic of limitations, the battery life is one such bugbear that’s frequently mentioned in relation to most wearables. After perusing the  Watch battery information page, it does confirm that the device probably needs to be charged daily (or nightly) by moderate to heavy users, but that when in Power Reserve mode, it can still be used as a regular watch for up to 72 hours – that’s a reassuring figure. I’m still not sure why anyone thinks charging a watch for 2 hours is an inconvenience – as we are all accustomed to charging the gadgets we love each day, already.

All about the apps…?

Apple Watch Apps

It seems that reaction in the media to the  Watch has been mixed. On the one hand, there are those that fawn over it’s superb design and craftsmanship, while others point out its shortcomings, such as an expectedly low battery life, and loss in value when a new model is released.

Many have wondered whether there’s really a need or a killer app for a wearable wrist-worn device – Apple is positioning the device as a fitness device, and sort of advanced notification gadget. But the real usefulness and utility of the thing will surely become clear in time, as the thousands of developers out there create amazing, unexpected, and totally original apps. Much like the original iPad (and a lesser extend the iPhone), the true benefits of the watch will slowly reveal themselves over time…

Making life easier, more seamless

Imagine life in the very-imminent future where you just walk up to your car or home and open the door without having to fiddle about with real keys. Or paying for groceries with a tap at Boots, with no need to talk to the checkout staff (Ewan would appreciate this one), and any free vouchers just get added to your online wallet or Apple account.

It’s also surely going to be much more convenient when leading a busy, hectic lifestyle, catching trains and generally needing to travel anywhere in rush hour, that having the ability to quickly call someone or reply to a message on a watch is infinitely more preferable than fumbling for your phone while you’ve got two hands full of laptops, briefcases, shopping, or whatever.

Credit cards at the ready

The  Watch can be preordered in the UK from April 10th – I admit that as an early adopter and user of many Apple products, I shall be online at midnight on the 10th with my credit card ready to order – and my model of choice, like Ewan, is the Sport model. I shall purchase, with luck, the 42mm Space Grey model and black band.

Here it is in all its glory – now tell me this isn’t an incredible device!

Apple Watch Space Grey
The Apple Watch Sport in Space Grey aluminium, 38mm and 42mm sizes.

From a personal perspective, I am anticipating the Apple Watch immensely, and shall no doubt thoroughly enjoy sending Ewan random digital scribbles when the mood takes.

Roll on April…

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

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