Friday, September 12, 2014

Notes on Apple Watch

Vidit Bhargava
It's January 9th 2007, Steve Jobs is on stage, he's showing the world a better smartphone. You already want one. It's beautiful, elegant and potentially life changing but you don't see a lot of use instantly.

That's exactly how it felt when Tim Cook showed the world Apple's first generation SmartWatch this week. It makes other smart watches seem like ancient stone work.

Little is known about the Apple Watch at the moment. There are few details, a lot of questions and only some answers right now. I'd like to draw your attention to a few key points though:

First it's a watch. Looking at the Apple Watch from a watch buyer's perspective,  I'd say it's pretty neat. Nothing comes close at this price range that's as beautiful or as well made as the Apple watch. Add to that the watch faces are phenomenal, I specially like the analog watch faces, they look elegant!

Here's a what Benjamin Clymer of Hodinkee had to say from his first impression
"Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands do with similarly priced watches, and those details add up to a really impressive piece of design."

Looking at the watch one realizes just how much detail has gone into the making of the Watch. The curved glass blends perfectly into the stainless steel watch enclosure, the rich detail on the digital crown gives it the right fit, finish and feel for a watch crown. In terms of sheer watch design Apple's competing with neither of Motorola, Samsung or Pebble. It's taking a direct shot at brands like Tag Heuer, Seiko or Hublot.

But The watch's construction is quite like any of Apple's first generation products. Just like the first iPhone or iPad, it's a little thick, the screen resolution could get better but I'm sure that the Apple watch will only get better and thinner in the next few generations of the watch. 

Another interesting point to note here is the strap 
design. A few months back when I first heard the rumor of an apple designed watch, I looked at mine and instantly felt the need of a better strap, I've used a leather strap before and am currently using a velcrow strap for my wrist watch and both of them are quite terrible. 

Looking at the six different strap variants I was quite pleased to see the Milanese Loop and the Leather Loop feature in the list both of them solve my watch strap problem quite efficiently. I guess the Milanese loop might be more high end but that's the one that I've found most appealing yet.

As for the software, I like the customizable Watch Faces and the new messaging app which allows you to draw and send short messages to other Watch users. 

But the thing that's most exciting here is a feature called “Glances” which basically presents quick access to things like the Weather widget or the Apple TV Remote. It's going to be very useful and I guess a lot of people will end up using Glances more than the Watch Apps.

The new Typeface is pretty good over here, when printed on the back of the watch, it reminds me of the text writtent at the back of some of the analog watches, in the OS with lower case text it is far more legible than Helvetica or Lucida Grande or even Myriad Pro. There was some claim that it felt similar to roboto, I compared both of them and the differences are quite big. Take the letter R for example, Roboto has significant Helvetica Influence, while the Watch Typeface is more similar to Lucida Grande than Helvetica.

During the demo, a lot of apps were shown, of which Some of the apps felt like they wanted to show too much on a tiny screen. But I really liked the Starwood Hotels app which allows you to unlock your room by waving the watch. The BMW app and Apple Pay are quite neat too. Also, Apple's Fitness apps are quite interesting. 

It's still early days for the Watch Space and already a few apps seem to stand out as experiences just meant for the wrist. There's a lot of scope for interesting ideas in here.

I think what's important here is Taptic Feedback, and Digital Crown. The interactions these two define will shape the direction in which Watch apps will go. 

Price is the key here, it's $349. Another Affordable Luxury sweet spot. If you are looking for a cheap workable wrist watch that costs less than a $100, you'll be disappointed. But if you were planning to buy something in the range of $200 - $500, the Apple Watch May be your best bet, even if you are just looking for a watch. 

The apple watch does leave a few questions though. For instance, what's the upgrade cycle going to be like? People tend to use Watches for a long time , it's definitely not something that one changes every year. Personally I feel a minor update every year followed by a major update in every two-three years is going to be fine.

And then there's the all important question on battery life. From the subtle hints that Apple dropped in the keynote, it feels like the watch will have at least a day of battery life at launch. But Apple's got roughly six months to launch this device and I'd be surprised if they didn't go on to improve its battery life from what it looks to be now.

As the keynote finished, I realized the atmosphere was similar to that of the initial iPhone and iPad Launch. I really want the Apple Watch, it's beautiful, elegant and something you'll instantly want to wear. I don't see a lot of use for a "smart" watch instantly, but I'm quite certain that just like the iPad, 3rd Party apps will eventually carve out incredible uses for the Apple Watch. I can already see Starwood Hotels and City Mapper leading the pack.

Images from Apple and Hodinkee

1 comment:

sargam india said...
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