Apple Watch is a gadget of convenience. It’s more about Want than Need. It’s about using a needle instead of the sword, when needed. The entire purpose of putting things on your wrist is so you can stop scooping out your phone more often. To apply the rule of threes, Apple Watch is a Watch, a Health and Fitness Tracker and a Communications Device. The third one is an interesting choice, personally I’d have gone for it being an iPod, I’d have even used the side button for Apple Pay primarily but it seems the communications device bit has a little more potential than what appears to be at the surface, I’ll come back to it in a later post though.
The Apple Watch is a gadget of convenience and convenience like all other wants, grows on you
Watch Materials and Construction
There’s no doubt that comparing the Apple Watch to a Mechanical Watch would be foolish. Those watches are made with a completely different skill. Powering your watch with your body movement energy is an entirely different experience. The Apple Watch’s design prowess however lies in it’s casing and bands. It’s there that Apple’s juggled around with the materials and played around with alloys to provide luxury at a much lower price than it currently exists at. (In some cases at least, the Apple Watch is ‘underpriced’ )
The Watch’s Construction and choice of materials is intriguing. While the sports watch features an Ion-X glass which isn’t particularly great at Scratch Resistance, its Aluminium case is pretty well done. It’s hard and very light. A perfect fit for regular outdoor activity. The Watch on the other hand features a Sapphire Crystal display, The Sapphire Crystal is extremely hard making it scratch resistant to just about every thing. The Watch’s case however, is made of Stainless Steel, which being extremely soft is a ‘scratch magnet’, also the Stainless steel casing is heavier than the Watch Sport. Much more suited to casual use than an elaborate indulgence in Sports.
The Bands however are a completely different story. They are a throw-back to the “This Sucks! Let’s Fix it” trend that Apple had followed in the late 90s and most of 2000s. Until now, The Watch was at par, if not better than the automatic watches in the sub-$1000 range. The bands however, blow out the traditional automatic watch competition out of the water! Apple’s nailed it here! Over the course of the last few months following the announcement of the Watch, there’s been one nagging question: “Does it have enough meat to make people charge it over night?” I think, the Watch bands are key here. Being a wearable, the Watch’s priority should be to feel comfortable on the wrist. I’d wear a comfortable watch every day, and this is where the Watch Band is important.
The Sports band is an affordable luxury for a $349 Watch
Apple’s currently selling bands in four parts. The Sports Band, Loops, Buckles and Bracelets. The Sports band is a simple polyurethane band with an innovative pin mechanism to sit tightly on your wrist. Taking a leaf out of Ikepod’s book, the Sports band is a direct reference to Newson’s (now working on the watch) work on the Ikepod Plastic Band. It’s the cheapest of them all. It’s also way underpriced! It’s the sort of material that you’d see on a watch that costs 1000s of dollars, not something that costs $349.
Perhaps the most interesting of the bands, however is the Milanese Loop. It looks as though, it’ll eat out your skin hair. However, it’s actually like a steel fabric! Sitting comfortably on your wrist, without any of the usual Milanese Mesh issues. If there was a ‘Band of the Year’ award. Milanese Loop would win this hands down in a competition with the bands from the likes of Omega, Rolex and Hublot. For those who really aren’t into the silvery feel of the Loop, there are the more subtle Leather Loops, again very neatly done.
If there was a ‘Band of the Year’ award, Milanese Loop would win this hands down in a competition with the bands from the likes of Omega, Rolex and Hublot
The watch however is not just about the hardware. The finesse with which the hardware and bands have been made, must transfer to the software too for it to be successful. And this is where the Apple Watch ventures into stormy waters. It goes for complex instead of minimalist. There’s more of everything.
The seconds hand spinning at 60fps is a very pleasant sight
Starting with the Watch faces, you probably get nine of them. The chronograph and digital face is epitome of complexity. There’s more information on it than I’ve seen anywhere else on an Apple Lock Screen. Having said that, It’s done with elegance. It’s neither distracting nor overwhelming at the first sight. I particularly like the Chronograph. It’s got a nice vintage charm to it. There are of course other watch faces too like the one that’s called solar, where you also get the sun position along with the time. It’s pretty neatly done.There are others you can choose from. Apple’s promoting them as some sort of an Image building exercise for the Watch, these aren’t just the casual you can do it too watch faces which come with most of the smart watch. These are carefully made to match the luxury that the hardware provides (The seconds hand spinning at 60fps is a very pleasant sight). Will there be Third Party Watch Faces ever? I’m Skeptical. I don’t see a fake rolex watch face making rounds on this one anytime soon. So, even if we see a Watch Face store, it’ll be heavily scanned for originality. A hurried third party watch face program might be breading ground for cheap knockoffs, but a carefully constructed one could encourage a lot of designers to make some awesome, innovative ways of reading time.
Will there be Third Party Watch Faces ever? I’m Skeptical
True, its three things primarily, Watch, Health and Fitness Tracker and Communications Device but it’s also a lot of other things. There are third party apps in there which are probably meant to be the ‘Utility’ aspect of the watch. What the third party apps achieve will change the Watch from a want to the need. Frankly, that status is still want. There’s not much that can’t be done without the watch. But the needle could tip in the favour of need very quickly. As I said before, it’s a device of convenience and convenience grows on you. You may find calling a uber from the Watch, lame on paper but as you use it more often, you realise there’s more reason for it to exist on your wrist than in your pocket.
What goes on your wrist, needless to say, needs to be a bite-sized interaction. No one’s expecting to read days worth of your reading list on your watch but there are certain apps which are just better on your wrist. One tap apps like Timer, Stopwatch, Pomodorroh Style Time Managers, Uber fall in this category. For the simple task of setting a timer, it’s more convenient to use your Watch than to take out your phone. Then there are quick searches, where you have the urge to find something, be it a nearby restaurant, a particular show time, a word’s meaning. Then there are directional apps. Apps that provide a direction to something. Say transit apps or even Cooking apps, the prospect of your watch reminding you add two teaspoons of sugar or telling you when to stop cooking something is exciting! The Remote Apps however are most popular, they are the apps which would have a hard time existing on the phone. It’s fascinating to be able to control your powerpoint slides, your TV, your House Lighting on your wrist, but writing off the Watch as a ‘Remote to your phone’ is probably unfair. It’s like calling the iPad an oversized iPhone.
Writing off the Watch as a ‘Remote to your phone’ is probably unfair. It’s like calling the iPad an oversized iPod Touch.
These apps however are scarce (at least in comparison to iPhone). There are only 3000 apps on the Apple Watch right now and They are just extensions to your phone app, which makes them slow. Having said that, there’s a lot of untapped potential in here. Apple’s once again put the controls in the developers hands to make the Apple Watch a need. It’s their interest in the platform that’ll make the Watch a powerful futuristic wearable or just a well crafted accessory for the fans.
For most of it’s part, the Apple Watch stays true to its intentions. Just like a traditional watch. The Apple intends to save you time and it makes a very promising start for a first generation product. There’s a lot it does correctly. There’s dollops of untapped potential in the Watch, something that after three to four iterations might even etch itself in your lives. But there are a lot of bumps it hits too. As a wearable, it’s in a completely different league than the current smartwatches in the market, but as a smartwatch, a concept that is largely alien outside the nerd world, it still has a lot to do to convince a much wider audience about the potential of a smartwatch.