Saturday, April 11, 2015

Apple Watch Impressions

I tried on the Watch, today. It's my first foray in fashionable wearable tech. For this reason, it's different than my previous experiences with consumer electronics. Since it comes in different sizes, styles, and colors I literally had to be fitted. I put the cart before the horse by ordering my Apple Watch before today's fitting. As a matter of fact, I ordered it within the first five minutes of it going on sale, yesterday. But, it's comforting to know, after today's fitting, that I ordered the right Apple Watch for me. And, if I had made a mistake, I could simply cancel my order anytime before it ships in the next four to six weeks.

The Apple Watches I tried on today only ran a demo program. But, I did have an opportunity to interact with some of the display models. The fitting was a bit anticlimactic since it's simply a watch in form factor, and I've worn watches for decades. Clothing, eyeglasses, and watches are the original wearable tech invented long ago. So, choosing one of these form factors is a perfect starting point for wearable high-tech.

All the Apple Watch models have the same internals. There's no functional difference, on any level, between a $349 Apple Watch Sport and a $17,000 Apple Watch Edition. That may sound ridiculous until you consider that this is also true for cars.


Welcome to the world of fashion. Once a technology has matured enough to become a commodity it can be fashioned.

Checking out Apple's new products, before the Apple watch, was simple: I would walk into an Apple Store and play with a demo unit. With the Apple Watch, I had to schedule a one-on-one fitting with a personal shopper. He assisted me in trying on different models and bands. This may sound like pomp and circumstance, but it was actually a necessity for efficiency and security. That made the experience more like a visit to a jewelry store rather than a consumer electronics store. With the Apple Watch on my wrist it "tapped" me with a notification, which felt like a poke on my wrist. I like that this haptic feedback is a silent and private notification, unlike when my iPhone vibrates which others can hear. The tap, followed by a causal glance at the Apple Watch, is less distracting than reaching into my pocket and pulling out my iPhone.


The Apple Watch isn't a standalone device like Apple's other key products. Rather, it's a wearable accessory of the iPhone. It's disappointing that the Apple Watch must be paired to an iPhone for connectivity and to run third party apps. But that will change. In the mean time, Apple certainly got the fashion part right compared to the now defunct Google Glass. Putting wearable technology into a familiar form factor is the key to consumer adoption. But it isn't easy to put high-tech into clothes, glasses, and watches. Google Glass made for a great demo, but it didn't look like a normal pair of glasses. As a matter of fact, Google Glass didn't even function like eyeglasses or sunglasses at all. Rather, it looked geeky, which is the opposite of stylish. What Google Glass really did was bring heads-up displays (HUD) to the consumer along with a ubiquitous camera. And it was the camera that made people especially uneasy. Seventy years ago, Dick Tracy showed us what a high-tech watch could do. Before Google Glass, consumers weren't pining for a wearable HUD, but we did want a two-way wrist communicator. While no one was asking for a pocket-sized computer, the fact that smartphones enabled communications was key to their adoption.


While I love the Apple Watch as fashion accessory, I've read the reviews. The Apple Watch feels a bit underpowered and sluggish with marginal battery life. But, regardless, since I already wear a watch then I might as well have one that works with my iPhone.

Here are more of my Thoughts on Apple Watch from last month.

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