Apple Watch: The smart person's guide
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET
The Apple Watch is more than a timepiece. The digital wearable, which provides precision timekeeping within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global standard, mates with an iPhone 5 or later model to provide an array of additional features and functionality. In addition to fitness, health, messaging, news, and travel information, the Watch possesses wayfinding, audio, payment, weather, and telephone speakerphone capabilities, among other features. Apple’s watchOS powers the device.
We’ll periodically update this resource guide when new information is available about the Apple Watch.
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- What it is: The Apple Watch is a compelling timepiece that places fitness, health, news, messaging, commerce, and other capabilities on the user’s wrist.
- Why it matters: The wearables market was previously largely composed of less stylish fitness devices or electronic watches possessing limited application choices and smartphone integration. Apple’s Watch combines health, fitness, news, messaging, and other applications with timekeeping, exponentially improved smartphone integration, and a vast number of applications.
- Who this affects: The Apple Watch is targeted to Apple iPhone 5 and later users, business professionals seeking an advanced wearable that assists with conveying news, messaging information, map and travel data, and similar functionality. Fitness buffs will find the device extends health and fitness application functionality and shifts the programming and interface device from a bulkier phone to the wearable watch.
- When it was released: The Apple Watch was released on April 24, 2015. Pre-orders began on April 10, 2015. Apple Watch OS2 was released on September 21, 2015.
- How to get it: Apple Watch models can be purchased at Apple retail stores, from Apple’s website, or using the iOS Apple Store app.
What it is
Apple Watch delivers critical information to a user’s wrist in elegant ways that permit the user to readily view, react, and respond to incoming messages and alerts. For example, Apple Watch has a predetermined number of common responses to instant messages, including Yes, No, Great, Sorry, Can’t Talk Right Now, and In a meeting. Call you later? When someone texts you a question asking do you prefer A or B, such as do you want Pizza or Enchiladas for dinner, the watch understands you’re being asked a question and adds to predetermined responses options for responding pizza or enchiladas.
Notifications enable you to receive news updates and application alerts that you configured on your iPhone. Glances enable accessing and browsing specific applications you select from the Watch face. Complications permit configuring an Apple Watch face to display custom selections, such as calendar, temperature, and weather information. No wearable device previously offered such wide-ranging capabilities.
Apple Watch Sport
A linear-actuator Taptic Engine inside the watch delivers a variety of tactile tapping sensations to assist users in differentiating between incoming phone calls, a new email message, and a calendar reminder alert. Force Touch display technology senses force and calls additional application control functionality, such as customizing watch Faces, accessing application settings, pausing a workout, and more.
In addition to mail, message, and phone calls, the watch supports returning emojis, leveraging dictation, sharing your location, freehand sketches, and even the ability to share your heartbeat with others. Numerous applications are built specifically with Watch functionality in mind, including:
- Camera Remote
- World Clock
- Numerous other third-party apps
- 38mm and 42mm models
- 7000 series aluminum (aluminum models)
- 316L cold-forged stainless steel (stainless models)
- Aluminosilicate glass (Ion-X models)
- Diamond wire-cut, precision machined, and polished sapphire displays (Apple Watch and Watch Edition models)
- 18-karat solid gold (Watch Edition models)
- Up to 48-hour performance
- Up to 6.5-hour audio playback
- Up to 3-hour talk time
- Up to 6.5-hour workout time
- Up to 72-hour power reserve operation
- Magnetic charger
- Heart rate sensor leveraging photoplethysmography technology
- Linear-actuator taptic feedback engine
Why it matters
Apple Watch raised the bar for wearables to a completely new height. It set a new standard for intuitive interaction with smartphone functionality, fitness applications, and paying for purchases, as well as introducing attractive styles, high-quality displays, and elegantly integrated iPhone and application operation.
The Apple Watch changes the way business professionals interact with their digital devices. No longer must a bulky smartphone be removed from a pants or jacket pocket. The wearable enables more surreptitious and discreet viewing and responding to messages.
The Apple Watch places a vast array of capabilities on the user’s wrist. The device makes it easy to pay for purchases, confirm flight status, find an airline gate, map a destination, perform searches using Siri and dictation, and even answer calls and use a speakerphone. With the watch, users can adjust music system playback and remotely control cameras and Apple TVs, including in meeting and board rooms.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) trend continues, devices such as Apple Watch are significantly changing the way people consume news, receive alerts and reminders, record health and fitness data, view and respond to email and instant messages, and interact and share data from myriad applications.
Who this affects
Apple Watch buyers might include business professionals, athletes, students, and anyone else possessing an iPhone 5 or newer who wishes to further leverage popular iOS apps while decreasing the dependency on having to use one’s smartphone for all mobile tasks.
Businesses are also impacted. As users increasingly bring their own devices (including iPhones, Watches, and tablets) into corporate environments, IT departments will receive requests to assist supporting the devices. While Apple Watches don’t present many security risks within an organization, they can connect to smartphones, which are routinely configured with the ability to connect corporate applications, data, systems, and email platforms. Thus, the risk exists that, if an Apple Watch is mislaid or stolen within an organization, the individual possessing the Watch could access that user’s mail, instant messages, contacts, calendar, and other information.
When it was released
The Apple Watch was released on April 24, 2015, and pre-orders began on April 10, 2015. Apple hasn’t released Apple Watch unit sales information.
The initial Apple Watches shipped with Apple watchOS 1. Shortly thereafter Apple released an updated version of the operating system, Apple watchOS2, on September 21, 2015.
watchOS2 introduced several new features and capabilities. The new OS added several Watch Faces, including cityscapes and Time-Lapse, which enables turning the Crown to fast-forward to view weather forecasts for the future, for example. Additional Complications, the important information items that can be customized and added to a Watch Face display, were included with watchOS2, too.
Various media reports suggest Apple may be readying a new Watch model that includes a camera for release in Q2 2016.
How to get it
Apple Watch models can be purchased at Apple retail stores, from Apple’s website, or using the iOS Apple Store app. Watch Sport, Watch, and Watch Edition models are available in 38mm and 42mm sizes.
Watch Sport prices range from $349 for 38mm models to $399 for 42mm versions, all with sport bands. Watch prices range from $549 and $599 (for 38mm and 42mm) versions with stainless steel cases and sport bands to $1,049 (38mm) and $1,099 (42mm) for black stainless steel cases with link bracelets. Watch Edition models start at $10,000 for 38mm 18-karat gold versions with sport bands and range to $15,000 for 42mm gold models with classic buckle bands.
Apple also offers a variety of bands for all its Watch models. Sport bands, available in various colors, cost $49. The Milanese Loop runs $149. Classic buckle styles cost $149. Leather loops, available in multiple colors, also run $149. Modern buckle models, which include a smooth two-piece magnetic fastener, are available in several colors and run $249. Link bracelets made of 316L stainless steel alloy run $449 and are available in two colors.