It seems like we've been awaiting the Apple Watch for an eternity. But in reality it was just last September when Apple first announced the product.
Today the highlight of the Apple Live special event was the skinny on features and functions of the much-anticipated Apple Watch.
Most were nothing new. We were aware of the customizable face options and the ability to check notifications with a glance.
Even the digital health tie-ins were just moderately interesting. They were a large focus of original announcement. And although Apple provided much more detail today, the news was nothing unexpected.
Apple did give a bit more information about the way Apple Pay will be used via the watch. We learned that users would select the card they wish to use for payment and then push through a transaction via near-field communication (NFC) in the watch itself.
The bottom line: there is no need for you to take out your phone.
There were three things that really stood out to me. They all highlight how any smartwatch right now is fundamentally still an extension of your smartphone, not a standalone device.
You can interact with Siri via voice through the watch: Now, instead of talking into your phone you can walk around and talk into your watch. I think this is actually a cool feature. It’s just not a new feature. It simply extends a function to your wrist from your pocket.
The watch is a notification device for your phone: Granted the Apple Watch is far more than that. But during the event, it was clearly stated that any notification from the iPhone could be viewed on the Apple Watch. I'm sure there will be unique ways to see and interact with these notifications. But we're still just using the watch to extend our phones.
You can answer calls on your watch, just like Dick Tracy: Don’t get me wrong. This is awesome on a lot of levels. It makes me all types of happy, as I am sure it does any fully-grown kid. But I'm not sure I would feel any more comfortable walking around talking into my watch then I did the one time I tried a Bluetooth earpiece. It was great in principal but didn’t hold up to practice.
But Hold On
Some of the features are impressive, though.
- You can use the watch to display a QR Code and get through security at the airport without having to carry a paper boarding pass, though you will have to take your watch off a second later to go through the x-ray with all of your other belongings.
- You can use it as the key to your hotel room, which eliminate the always-awful Lost Key phenomenon.
- You can take advantage of some nice smart home tie-ins, which allow you to control different aspects of devices connected to the Internet in your home.
Granted you can do all of these things from your iPhone already. None of them are unique to the watch. But it’s a nice use of the watch that really pays off by reducing routine hassles.
OK, the watch offers some nice features and functions. But all the apps that you might want to add have to be browsed and purchased through your phone.
It's one thing you can’t do from the watch. Perhaps it will be easier to manage all of the apps through the phone. I don't know. But it just further cements the fact that right now, the Apple Watch is still just an extension of the iPhone.
For me, the greatest news came towards the end of the event. If you get one of the Apple Watches, you will be rewarded with an 18-hour battery life, which is about double what I was expecting.
A battery life of that duration will defiantly make the watch a far more feasible accessory to carry or, in this case, wear. I'm going to go out on a limb here and predicting that a battery like that should enable most people to have an enjoyable, all day experience with the watch.
You'll be able to pre order the Apple Watch starting on April 10. The watches will be available a few weeks later, on April 24.
The watch will come in three styles.
- The Apple Watch Sport is the entry level, with a price of $349 to $399, depending on size.
- The Apple Watch will have a more formal feel. It will cost from $549 to $1,099, depending on the size and band options chosen.
- Lastly, a limited number of 18k gold Watch Edition's will the market with price tags of $10,000.
The Apple Watch redefines the smartwatch space. And it has raised the bar as far as what we expect from such a device. But to me it is still just an extension of my phone.
Personally I cannot recall the last time I even wore a watch. And as much as I want the Apple Watch to be the device that changes that for me, right now I just don’t think it is.