Yes, Apple’s Watch changes everything

Apple WatchWhen Apple enters any market, its products tend to have significant impact. And after spending time with the new Apple Watch, which starts shipping tomorrow, we think Apple’s arrival changes everything for the smartwatch.

We don’t say this lightly.

It’s not just about the screen, which is sleek to the touch.

Neither is it about the gorgeously intense high resolution display.

Nor is it about the battery life, which may turn out to be the biggest bugbear with the first generation Apple Watch.

Yours for $17,000, the top-of-the-range Apple Watch

Yours for $17,000, the top-of-the-range Apple Watch

The overwhelming reason why the Apple Watch changes everything is because Apple puts the smartwatch at the center of an eco-system – in this case, the owner – rather than being relegated to the periphery, which is where all other smartwatches to date have ended up.

Until now, the main drawback with a smartwatch has been “why bother transferring data from my smartphone, which has a bigger screen, to my wrist?”

Apple changes that, putting the Watch at the center . A very clever move indeed – and very subtle, too.

Already we learn that more than 2000 apps have been approved for Watch – this is probably more than the total number of apps for niche smartphones like the Windows Mobile or BlackBerry. This simply underlines that Apple has waited until the market is starting to ripen before launching a product that is set to dominate.

Oh no, you cry – this is another fanboi post. It actually isn’t – we retain a healthy level of cynicism and are holding back from ordering an Apple Watch until at least the battery life situation becomes clearer.

It’s simply history repeating itself.

Apple did exactly the same thing to the portable music player market with the iPod, to the notebook market with the MacBook Air AND the iPad, and to the smartphone market with the iPhone.

Think back to 2007, when the iPhone launched – EVERY other phone on the market had strange contours and a seemingly random collection of buttons dotted around a non-touch display. Today, phones by Samsung, Sony, HTC and others have a largely homogeneous style: a big screen on the front, power and volume control buttons on the side or top and a camera lens on the back. Eight years on, Apple’s design still dominates the market.

It's the Apple Watch

Expect an eyeful of the Apple Watch in 2015 (photo: PR)

Notifications are a big thing on Watch. And in almost every app we’ve looked at in researching this article, the user interface has been dumbed down for the smaller screen.

This is out of necessity: the screen size has forced programmers to get away from the approach of throwing in more and more features – or bloat – and get back to a pure approach focused on how to best present key information. We like single purpose apps that do what they say on the tin.

The crown button on the top right hand side of the Watch – favoring right-handers – has a big role to play. It controls the level of zoom, either on the main interface or within an app. Zoom right out and you get an analog watchface: Proving that the Apple Watch can even tell the time!

Brace yourself for lashings of sycophantic coverage in the coming days about how the Apple Watch is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It isn’t, of course, but it’s clearly the best smartwatch so far.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: