The Apple Watch has officially launched. It is the first new consumer product line released in five years and the first since Steve Jobs passed away. It is also Apple’s first wearable product. Is the Apple Watch going to be as popular as the iPhone? Is it worth the cost? Do I need an Apple Watch if I have an iPhone? We’ve outlined key features and benefits here to help you answer these questions.
The Apple Watch works exclusively with the iPhone. There is no use having one without the other. Apps and many features of the Apple Watch are actually setup using the Apple Watch App on the iPhone. Apple Watch is compatible with the iPhone 5 or later running iOS 8.2 or later.
Band Selection – The Apple Watch is as much about style as it is Technology. There are over 20 watch bands in different styles, colors and materials – colorful athletic bands, leather, stainless steel, and link bracelet styles to be combined with various watch cases to match just about any personality.
Watch Cases / Pricing – The watch cases come in aluminum with prices ranging from $349 – $399. Stainless steel case watches range from $549 – $1,099. The Edition Watches with 18-karat gold cases range from $10,000 – $17,000!
Apple Watch Extends the iPhone
There are features specific to the Apple Watch but there are also many iPhone features that are available on the watch for quick and easy access. Here are some key features that extend the capabilities of your iPhone to your Apple Watch.
Built-In Apps – There are many apps that are built in for immediate use with the Apple Watch. Examples, in addition to the ones described below, include: Calendar, Twitter, Instagram, Remote (for Apple TV), Camera Remote, Music, Weather, Stocks, Photos, Alarm, Stop Watch, Timer and many more.
Phone – Make Calls, Answer or Decline incoming calls. Apple Watch has a built in speaker and microphone so you can hear and talk right to your watch. Or, you can pass incoming calls to your iPhone for a more traditional calling device. There are several ways to make calls but the easiest way is to say “hey Siri” and ask her to make a call.
Messages – Receive, send and answer Messages. Raise your wrist to see the incoming message or lower your wrist to dismiss it. Use the digital crown dial to scroll through common reply messages. Add your own frequent responses on your Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Tap the microphone to record a response. A range of fun and animated Emoji’s are available to include with your messages.
Photos/Camera – Does the Apple Watch have a camera? No. However, it acts as a viewer and remote control for your iPhone camera. You can set up a selfie or group shot, step into the picture and see what the camera sees on your watch. Then from your watch you can set the timer or snap the picture on your iPhone!
Siri – Just say “hey Siri” to activate her to access many of the features you would do on your Phone. You can ask Siri for directions, game results or to add an appointment to your calendar. All without taking out your iPhone out of your pocket.
Apple Pay – Apple Pay is getting even easier with the Apple Watch. Set up Apple Pay on the Apple Watch App then simply wave your wrist in front of the reader for Payment.
Maps – You can access maps by swiping up on your watch face. You can also tap on an address in a Message to get step by step directions on your wrist. Search for a new location using Siri or select a contact with an address to get needed directions.
Third Party Apps – In addition to the built in Apps, hundreds of third party apps have been developed or extended from iPhone and are supported by the Apple Watch. Examples include: Bible, Flipboard, Pandora, Instagram, Twitter, Lumosity, Map My Run, Runtastic Apps, Elevate, Dictionary & Thesaurus.
With the built in accelerator, health features and sensors it will be amazing to see what Apple Watch developers will come up with.
Note: There is no keyboard on the Apple Watch so input is done using Siri.
New Features that are Unique to the Apple Watch
Many features work in tandem with the iPhone but new features that are specific to the Apple Watch include the following.
Customizable Watch Face – You can change the watch face as frequently as desired to match your personality and mood – daily, weekly or hourly. Customize which active content you want to see on your watch face such as calendar appointments, temperature, activity level or moon phases. The watch goes to sleep to conserve battery until you lift your wrist.
Taptic Notifications – The watch uses a Taptic Engine to “tap” you on the wrist to receive alerts and notifications. This is combined with sounds to engage multiple senses.
Water Resistant – The Apple Watch is marketed as being water resistant but not waterproof. It can be exposed to some water (sweat, water for washing hands, light shower, etc) for a short duration but should be taken off for swimming. Apple claims an IPX7 water-resistnace for the device which means it can withstand 1 meter of submersion for 30 minutes. So, if you fall in the pool with your watch on, it should still work fine unless you hang out in the water too long. iPhones and iPads are more susceptible to water.
Digital Touch – A new feature, not available on iPhones, allows you to have a unique experiences with other Apple Watch users that are in your Contacts. You can send your friends animated drawings, heart beats, and tap patterns. They will receive it on their Apple Watch and can send you a response.
Heart Rate Sensors – Apple Watch has built in heart rate sensors on the back of the watch. While working out, Apple Watch detects your heart rate and displays it. You can check your heart rate using the Heart Rate Glance app. Your heart rate is detected every 10 mins and is used to help calculate activity and calories burned and stores the information in the Health App.
Activity App – The Activity App helps you achieve daily fitness goals and lets you know if you have been sitting too long and if you are getting enough daily activity. It also helps you determine if you are meeting your personal calorie burn goals. Activity circles can be viewed on your watch face so you know how close you are to achieving your goals.
New Gestures – The Apple Watch has an operating system that is unique to the design of the Apple Watch. While some gestures are familiar there are new interactions that only the watch recognizes. Raising and lower your wrist activates or dismisses various activities. Tapping and pressing activate different option. The digital crown offers zooming and navigation options. There is a bit of a learning curve and Apple offers several short form videos to walk you through how to set up and use the watch.
How to buy Apple Watch/ Availability
There are Apple Watch is available for viewing and try on at select Apple Stores either by appointment or by walk-in. However, purchases are encouraged to take place online. Pre-orders have begun to ship but announced dates for delivery state mid-May through July. E-receipt company Slice Intelligence estimated that just under 1 million Americans pre-ordered an Apple Watch on April 10, the first day the watch became available for online ordering.
More info on Apple Watch:
- iOS 8 Tip – Predictive Text. How to turn it on, off, hide it, reveal it.
- iOS 8 Tip – Multitasking between multiple draft email messages
- iOS 8 Tip – Share a friend or family member’s active location
- Apple Pay – What is Apple Pay? Why use it? How do I use Apple Pay?