It’s all true. Apple today launched the first new product category of the Tim Cook era, the Apple Watch, and took a giant cannonball into the pool of wearable computing. Rather than take an iPhone and shrink it to fit your wrist, Apple builds a new user experience from scratch.
As Apple CEO Tim Cook says in the keynote revealing the Apple Watch, “What we didn’t do is shrink down the iPhone interface and put it on your wrist,” and by and large, the Apple Watch seems to live up to that assessment. Apple even made a video, narrated by Senior VP of Design Jony Ive, explaining where they were coming from with their design. If you haven’t seen it yet, head here to check it out. (But come back here for more details.)
The Watch is a simple rectangular design, which will ship in two sizes, with bands than can be swapped out to match the occasion or function. The watch is water resistant, and the display is sapphire glass. There are three “lines” of Apple Watch— the Watch, the Watch Sport, and the Watch Edition. It remains to be seen how the different lines will affect price point, or which band it comes with, but the Watch Edition is made with reinforced 18K gold, so expect that to be the Rolex of the technophile.
The Watch comes with the requisite sensors that can track heart rate, movement, and can even sync with your iPhone to determine distance, and— if you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus— altitude. Inside is a “taptic” module that silently alerts you with a discreet tap on the wrist for alerts, notifications, or incoming communication, and the screen, new for Apple, is pressure-sensitive. The crown of the watch, useless for a digital timepiece, has been repurposed as a scroll wheel, allowing the user to zoom, adjust settings, or push it inward to function as a home button.
The Watch functions as an extension of the iPhone with the continuity features built in to Apple’s upcoming iOS 8, allowing the user to start dictating an email on the Watch, and finish it on their iPhone, or presumably on their Mac with Yosemite. Throughout the reveal, Tim Cook made clear that Apple’s goal with the Watch was to keep everything customizable, from watch face theme to what is actually displayed within each design. This is true with the bands, which slide in and out of slots on the watch housing, securing themselves with what look like magnetic clasps.
The only sour note came at the end of the presentation, and only for those who were hoping the Apple Watch would come in at an iPod-cannabalising price point. Some wondered if Apple would introduce the device as a low-cost wearable to target the fitness crowd. Not so- the Apple Watch starts at $349, with the higher-end model expected to cost much more. By starting at such a hefty price tag, Apple firmly cements the Watch as a high-end fashion accessory. As Apple Stores roll out demo models and consumers start getting their hands on the device, it remains to be seen if the power can match the price.
Were you sold by Jony Ive’s video? Or is it too rich for your blood? Sound off below!