Apple Watch unveiled at last (Wired UK)


Apple


Apple has announced the Apple Watch — a wearable smartwatch
with a physical wheel on one side.

The long-rumoured watch features support for health monitoring
and fitness as well as apps such as mapping, email, music, photos,
temperature, calendar, Siri and dictation, messaging, heart rate
detection and more.

It also tells the time.

The “digital crown” is what Apple has called the rotary wheel on
the edge, which is also a button for returning to the device’s
homescreen. Twisting it allows you to zoom in, for use with the
supported maps app, for example; or to scroll a list, such as with
messages.


Apple


The Apple Watch has a Retina Display that knows the difference
“between a tap and a press” thanks to a sensor that detects
pressure from a finger on the display.

At Apple’s press event today, which Wired.co.uk attended, the
company showed an interface of multiple coloured circles for the
Apple Watch, launched by a tap. These can be arranged in any order
according to the user.


Apple


To view information Apple has designed an interface called
Glances. By swiping up from the bottom of the watch’s display, a
series of cards display information such as the next meeting in a
calendar, a message, or what song is playing. Music tracks, for
example, can be paused and skipped from these interactive screens.
It can be used as a viewfinder for the iPhone’s camera, or to
control the Apple TV, to name a couple of highlighted use
cases.

Media such as music can be stored on the device, although the
Apple Watch requires an iPhone be paired in order to function. It
is not yet clear if any functions will be available to non-iPhone
users.

An intriguing feature is the maps app, which in addition to
offering directions also takes advantage of the haptic vibration
system inside the device. In practice, this allows Apple’s Maps app
to not only plot a journey from your current location, but guide
you using different types of vibrations on the wrist. One vibration
might mean turn left, another means turn right. Apple claims this
allows navigation without looking at the screen.

Apple announced a pair of fitness-specific apps for the device.
These apps monitor calories burned, distance and places travelled,
workout intensity, plus will log the information it records into a
calendar for tracking over several days, weeks or months. As the
device learns a user’s routines, it can suggest fitness goals or
activities if goals have not been hit in a certain timeframe.

If a notification comes in, for example from a calendar invite,
the watch vibrates. The screen only displays the notification if
the user then lifts their wrist, and swiping up from the bottom of
the screen brings up a set of context-specific actions. In the
calendar example this might be to accept the invitation to an
event.


Apple


Other features include customisable animated emoji characters
for responding to messages, dictation for speech-to-text using Siri
that allows wearers to ask questions such as “what movies are
playing tonight”, and the ability to send subtle communications to
other Apple Watch wearers that include small finger-painted
drawings or your own heartbeat. Apple believes this makes
communication much more personal.

Inside is an Apple-designed S1 processor, along with a haptic
sensor. Alongside these are an array of sensors that monitor heart
rate among other things. It connects to an iPhone to take advantage
of its GPS and Wi-Fi chips for life-logging utilities such as steps
taken and places visited.


Apple


Supported third-party apps were shown today to include Facebook
and Twitter. But Apple also announced WatchKit, which is a set of
APIs and software to allow developers to build applications for
Apple Watch. One demonstration showed the watch’s ability to unlock
hotel room doors by waving the device in front of a supported lock.
It’s likely this will be very limited at first and the technology
that enables this was not revealed. Other third-party apps include
Nike, Honeywell for controlling home appliances, and sports
providers delivering live scores of games.

There are several replaceable leather straps as well as a range
of sports band for use during exercise, fastening using magnets or
a metal clasp. There is also a classic buckle option or a stainless
steel link bracelet. These latter options should appeal to fans of
traditional watch design.


Apple


The Apple Watch will be supported on the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5s, 5c and 5. It will cost $349 in the US and
will launch in early-2015.

Apple’s announcement mimics the strategy it played during the
netbook craze of 2007. While companies such as Asus raced to push
netbooks as a cheap companion to a desktop or laptop PC, Apple
waited. A year or so later it released the MacBook Air, which
became so successful it ultimately replaced the consumer MacBook
line. It then released the iPad at a highly competitive price
point. The result was a slow decline in netbook sales as companies
tried to replicate Apple’s success with tablet computers.

The same trend has been occurring over the last 12 months as
manufacturers push the smartwatch category of wearable devices into
consumers’ collective consciousness. Between Android Wear as a
software platform, and Motorola, Samsung, Sony and others’
supporting hardware products, the smartwatch industry is doing its
best to beat Apple’s hand before it’s shown its cards.

One research group has suggested shipments of smartwatches in 2014 could hit 8.9
million globally, rising to 214 million by 2018.

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9 September 2014 | 6:25 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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