Gadget Review: The Apple Watch in Tim Cook’s Sleeve

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  • 5 years ago
  • Posted: March 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Apple Watch launches on Friday, April 24. The marketing maestros at Apple kicked off the promotional campaign for the Apple Watch with a 12-page advertising spread in Vogue. Apple’s Watch design intent is aimed at being fashionable and functional, philosophically, aesthetics and form; available in an array of different color and materials with six different types of watch straps that are easily interchangeable. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one: if smart-watches are to enter the mainstream, they need to feel more like jewellery than a miniature smartphone, even if some of their features resemble the latter. Naturally, the Apple Watch is Apple’s response to the current wearable craze going about the world. But of course (pronounce with a condescending Parisian accent), it’s designed exclusively for use with iOS devices generation 5 and up.

Prices for the device, which will be available for pre-order and in-store previews on April 10 ahead of an April 24 launch, start at $349 and go as high as $17,000. According to Apple’s head of design Jony Ive, Apple has been working on the device for three years. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple’s objective with the watch is to “change the way you live your life.” The first thing that’s clear when you put on the Apple Watch is that it really feels like a watch rather than a gadget that you strap to your wrist.

Point of Fact: Peter Henlein, clockmaker from the Nuremberg, Germany, is the father of the modern clock and the originator of the entire clock making industry that we know today.

 

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Form and Design

There are three models of Apple Watch, but they all feature the same curved design and rectangular display. Internally, they’re all the same: features, storage and connectivity are akin. The differences are in materials and bands. Each of the three models is available in two different watch body sizes, 38mm (1.5 inches) and 42mm (1.7 inches).It comes with six different casing materials and six separate interchangeable band options in a variety of colors. Aiming to create watches that would cater to a wide range of tastes, Apple designed the Apple Watch with four different custom alloys of stainless steel and aluminum in two finishes, along with two formulations of 18-karat yellow and rose gold that are designed to stand up to daily wear.

Totally, there are six different body options: Stainless Steel, Space Black Stainless Steel, Silver Aluminum, Space Gray Aluminum, 18-karat gold and 18-karat rose gold.

Organized into three separate collections, from the simple “Sport” to the high-end luxury “Edition,” the Apple Watch has been created to appeal to a wide range of tastes. Designed with either an ion-strengthened or flexible sapphire display (depending on model), all of the Apple Watches include an HD Retina screen, sapphire-covered sensors built into the zirconia backing, and an NFC chip to allow the devices to work with Apple’s Apple Pay mobile payment service.

Typical of all its products, Apple has carefully incorporated the way people will interact with and use the Apple Watch, developing both a unique operating system (WatchOS) and singular input methods for the device. Whilst it allows for touch input, Apple Watch also includes a “Digital Crown” located on the right side of the body, which lets you and me zoom, scroll, and select elements on the Watch without covering the screen. The Digital Crown can also serve as a home button. However, there is a second physical button below the Digital Crown that lets users bring up a list of contacts and then communicate with friends by sending messages, animated emoji, quick drawings, and a HEARTBEAT, derived directly from the watch’s on-board sensors. Exciting prospect for all those romantic folk out there-“honey, just sent you my heartbeat, just to let you know it only beats for you,” or so it might go, I don’t know, am a scholar, not a lover!

Apple Watch takes leverages the new pressure-sensing technology called “Force Touch” and is able to determine the difference between a tap and a press, thus prompting a range of contextually specific controls. It’s a unique notification system allows notifications to be relayed in a subtle way through gentle vibrations using the “Taptic Engine.”

The Watch is not a standalone device because it relies on the iPhone for many features like relaying notifications and messages, but rather a companion device. As a matter of factly, initial Apple Watch apps will be completely powered by the iPhone to preserve battery.

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Battery

The Apple Watch will last for 18 hours per charge with mixed usage and up to 72 hours in Power Reserve Mode, which limits functionality. Fact is that a typical Apple Watch battery has a life cycle of three years. While the lithium-ion battery is not user-replaceable, it can be replaced by Apple. Pricing on an Apple Watch battery replacement remains a mystery. Nonetheless, those wishing to refresh the battery in their Apple Watch will definitely need to rack up some bobs over a complete upgrade of the device. In the meantime, everything the Apple Watch does will rely on a charged internal battery. So, the question begs, how long does it take to charge the Apple Watch?

According to Apple’s internal testing, the Apple Watch can be fully charged in approximately 2.5hours. To bring the device up to an 80 percent charge level takes only 1.5 hours. Charging is achieved using the included MagSafe inductive charger, which autonomously snaps into place thanks to in-built magnets. Additional Magnetic charging cables can be purchased from Apple in two different lengths, with a 1m cable priced at $29 and 2m cable going for $39. Interesting thing is that owners of the Apple Watch Edition will get a special Magnetic charging case that will dock the most expensive models while they are charging. Special treatment for special prices! The 18hr battery life is based on specific use times for each function. To arrive at the 18-hour battery life, the following uses were performed:

– 30 minutes of workout with music playing over Bluetooth from Apple Watch

– 45 minutes using apps

– 90 time checks (this represents a 4-second time check every 12 minutes for 18 hours)

– 90 notifications (equivalent to a notification every 8 minutes for 12 hours)

Apple did also conduct individual tests using each specific function below. Results follow:
– Calling talk time, 3 hours

– Music playback over Bluetooth from Apple Watch, 6.5 hours

– Workout with heart rate sensor, 6.5 hours

– Watch only (five 4-second time checks each hour), 48 hours (two days)

All of the above estimates are based on testing with the 38mm Apple Watch. Apple notes that 42mm models typically achieve longer battery life. Of course, pragmatically, specific usage patterns, configurations, and environmental factors will affect real world results.

When the battery is running extremely low, Apple Watch will compensate by entering Power Reserve mode. With this mode enabled, displaying the time is given first priority as power is conserved by shutting down other functions. Battery life when checking the time every 15 minutes (for four seconds) can be stretched up to 72 hours (three days). When Power Reserve has expired, Watch OS will shut down until the device can be charged.

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Stefan Wolf

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