Apple Watch: Just the basics

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Apple’s also announced the Apple Watch. Yes, it’s just called the Apple Watch. Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s first wearable device.

Images: Apple

There are two sizes of the Apple Watch, to suit different wrist sizes, with three different finishes (“Apple Watch”, “Apple Watch Sports” and “Apple Watch Edition”) and a number of user swappable bands. It’ll be backwards compatible with iPhone models going back to the iPhone 5.

Apple’s gone with a square design on the Apple Watch (yep, they seem to have dumped the “i”), which uses a slightly different user interface; Apple CEO Tim Cook stated on stage that standard touchscreen controls such as pinch to zoom “would suck” on a screen that size. I suspect he’s right.

AppleWatch

Instead, the Apple Watch uses small onscreen icons — quite a lot of them, from the look of it — and a rotary dial, dubbed the “Digital Crown”. The Digital Crown that translates movement into data — a “simple and elegant” navigation device. Tim Cook used the example of a map, using the digital crown (no, sorry, I already hate that marketing name) to zoom in, or in a list to scroll up or down.

There’s also a variety of gestures to select apps, or swipe for some very Google Now looking information cards. As you’d expect, it’s Siri compatible, but equally I suspect it’ll have the same Dick-Tracy-esque awkwardness when talking to a watch in public. Nobody’s yet cracked that particular nut. Weirdly, you can send people your heartbeat if you want. Handy if you’re… having a cardiac arrest?

Speaking of which, it will also (as expected) work as a fitness device, with goals-based workout regimes for both the fitness freaks and the casual fitness enthusiast.

Speaking of difficulties, it doesn’t appear at this point that the Apple Watch will be particularly friendly for left-handed users, unless the “Digital Crown” can be selected when buying for either side of the Apple Watch.

Charging the Apple Watch is via induction on the base of the watch body, but as I predicted, Apple didn’t say much about the battery life apart from the idea that you’d need to charge it at night. That doesn’t fill me with huge confidence.

The Apple Watch will be Apple Pay compatible, but as yet, there’s no word on Australian availability for that service either.

Apple appears to be taking the softly, softly approach with the Apple watch, just talking about small and simple interactions with a paired iPhone (naturally) via either the Crown or by tapping, with force-enabled sensors to pick the difference between taps and longer presses. It’s also where Apple’s putting its Sapphire glass displays (the iPhone 6/6S didn’t get those).

Apple’s announced US pricing at $349 (starting price), but there’s no specific word on Australian pricing. It launches in the US “early next year”.

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