APPLE is supercharging its watch by announcing new apps that widen the device’s appeal while talking up its fashion alure.At an event at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said Apple Watch was “the most personal device Apple had ever created”.
Beginning on April 10, Apple Watch will be available for preview, try-on by appointment at Apple’s retail stores, and pre-order through the Apple Online Store locally.
But because of the declining dollar, you will pay handsomely for Apple Watch in Australia.
Apple Watch is available in three collections in Australia, Apple Watch Sport will cost from $499 to $579 while Apple Watch will sell from$799 to $1,629.
Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys, will sell with a recommended retail price starting from $14,000.
Is it worth it? Here’s what you can expect from Apple Watch:
Operating system and battery
An updated version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS8.2, would include a new Apple Watch app that would give access to all the apps that could be loaded onto the watch. It would be available for download from today.
Mr Cook said Apple Watch had “all day” battery life and in a typical day users could expect 18 hours of battery life but there wasn’t anything more specific than that.
Mr Cook spoke of the material used in the construction of the three watch varieties, a standard watch, sports watch and premium design, including “jaw dropping” 18-carat gold.
He said Apple Watch was an incredibly accurate time piece, and a way to measure fitness and health. He said users could configure the various clock faces by adding their choice of visual alerts using Glances — the watch’s notification system.
Users were alerted to messages by a tactic vibration on your arm. They could respond from the watch and take calls from it also. It also handed emails.
He said pressing the side button brings up friends and users could connect Apple Watch to Apple Watch so that a sketch you were drawing on your watch would simultaneously appear on your friend’s device. You could tap your watch to alert a friend or send your heart beat to them in the same manner.
Health and fitness
He said Apple Watch was a comprehensive health and fitness monitor and would track movements, exercises and remind you if you were sitting too long.
On a Monday, the watch would send you a report on how you performed the previous week along with suggestions on improving performance in the coming week.
“It’s like having a coach on your watch,” he said.
A second, workout app would show detailed exercise data including how many calories you were burning, distance and time spent.
The watch would also remind you to stand while you were at work and deemed too sedentary.
Notifications and apps
He said any notification you received on your phone could be displayed on the watch, including social media alerts.
He said developers already had created thousands of apps for Apple Watch.
Demonstrated examples included stock market information appearing on the watch, Sales Force data, top tweets, and upcoming flights you were booked on courtesy of the American Airlines app.
Pressing the watch’s crown brought up Apple’s personal assistant Siri. You could also say “Hey Siri”. Using voice control, users could reply to alerts. Apple showed a Weechat app. You could reply by tapping on the watch and selecting from a group of predefined reply stickers.
When using Apple Pay, double tapping the watch’s side button brought up your credit cards and you make a payment by putting your watch next to a retail outlet’s scanner.
The watch also kept you in touch with your phone when it was in another room.
You could swipe the watch face to quickly see a group of photos using Instagram and scan through them using the watch’s crown.
He demonstrated calling a chauffeur/taxi on the new Apple Watch Uber app. At an airport, the watch would show flight ticket details and a bar code on it would help you get through airport security. A similar function would let a user pass through a lobby security and them use the watch as a room key.
Alarm.com’s app would let a user unlock a garage door with their watch. The app shows a live feed of the door opening.
Today’s event in California also saw Apple unveil updates to their current products.
In a surprise move, Apple announced a new style of Notebook — a tiny MacBook that weighs just over 900 grams and 13.1mm thick.
Apple’s Phil Schiller introduced the product. He said it was 24 per cent thinner than MacBook Air. It has an all-metal enclosure. Despite its small size it has a full-sized keyboard. A ‘butterfly mechanism’ makes it much easier to strike keys accurately. Backlighting was provided with individual LED lights for each key.
The notebook had a 12-inch Retina display with 2304x1400 pixels, just over 3.3 million pixels.
It had a new trackpad with 4 sensors that distinguished between lighter clicks and stronger, force clicks. Force clicks offer context-dependent actions, such as adding a calendar entry when you get an email invitation to an event. Deep pressing while watching a movie would cause it to fast forward.
Apple had developed a new “terraced” battery structure for all day battery life and new USB C technology allowed.
It had a 1.1 Gigaahertz dual core Intel Core M processor, 8 GB of memory and 256GB of solid state storage for $US1299. It will ship from April 10 to selected countries and would come in
silver, “space grey” and gold.
The MacBook Air was being updated with a faster processor and the MacBook pro would get a faster processor, twice as fast flash memory, and an extra hour of battery life — now 10 hours.
On other matters, Mr Cook said Apple had opened 6 stores in China in the past 6 weeks and now had 453 stores with 120 million customers globally.
He said Apple TV was adding more providers and highlighted HBO and its star program Game of Thrones. The CEO of HBO Richard Plepler said HBO wold introduce a stand-alone streaming service and Apple would be its exclusive partner at launch, with access to all its past, present and future programming.
Apple had sold over 25 million Apple TV units at $US99 — the price now would be $US69. Australian pricing is yet to be confirmed.
He said iPhone was now the top selling phone in the world with 99 per cent customer satisfaction.
He said Apple had more than 2,500 banks supporting Apple Pay and in the first three months had tripled the number of locations throughout the US to 700,000. There was no news yet on its availability in other countries such as Australia.
They included 40,000 Coca Cola vending machines in the US which soon would be expanded to 100,000.
He said every major car brand was committed to CarPlay and 40 new car models would ship with it by the end of the year.
He said there were more than 900 apps that supported Apple’s HealthKit.
By Chris Griffith
With thanks to The Australian
And more information here from the Australian:
TODAY’S Apple event didn’t offer much new information about Apple Watch, technically speaking. Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated many of the features that were evident either during the Watch’s preview in September last year or since.
What we learnt was availability and price. Australia as usual will be among the first countries to receive the watch. People will be able to view it and try it on by appointment in Apple stores in Australia from April 10. It will launch in nine countries including Australia on April 24.
Prices here for the three editions will start from $499 for Apple Watch Sport, $799 for Apple Watch and from $14,000 for the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition.
The pricey nature of Apple Watch and the declining dollar means you’ll be paying significant money for Apple Watch here, more than for the Android smartwatch opposition, and more than for many smartphones.
But as often occurs in life, you get what you pay for and Apple has gone to lengths to work with developers to offer a quality integrated experience.
I must say I was disappointed that today’s keynote didn’t include more granular information about more of the big names implementing apps on the watch. Big name engagement arguabley is where Apple Watch will stand out. eBay, Disney, Sales Force, Bank of America, BMW, Honeywell, Starwood Hotels and Lutron are believed to be among them.
We did get a recap on how you could securely walk through a hotel lobby and use your watch to unlock your room door or make your way through an airport using the American Airlines watch app.
It has intrigued me how Apple would define what a smartwatch does. Today indicates the raison d’etre for an Apple Watch is about the same as for an Android one, but Apple is offering a more cultivated version of it.
Notifications (‘glances’), activity and fitness monitoring, payments, playing mobile music on the watch, vibration alerts, apps that control locks, garage doors and air conditioners or offer security access to hotel rooms, seem the go.
I’m yet to be convinced that Siri, voice commands and taking calls on your watch will be widely embraced. I don’t know many people who use Siri or any of the main personal assistant apps on a phone, let alone a watch. And there’s plenty of tasks better performed on a phone rather than a watch. To replicate everything on a smartwatch I think is a big mistake.
There’s still many unanswered questions. Will Apple’s claim of all-day battery life stack up? Is its optical heart rate monitor accurate enough to interest those into serious training? We’ll know soon enough when the reviews are in. And we don’t have new information about any intended rollout of Apple Pay in Australia.
So where does this leave Android Wear watches? In the beauty stakes, Android and other watches should hold their own against Apple Watch. Recent Android watches such as the Moto 360, LG’s G watch R and the new Huawei Watch are beautiful round faced wristwatches with smart functionality built in.
The fact some traditional Swiss watchmakers are starting to make smartwatches along with quality brands such as Guess means Apple’s square watches have stiff competition in looks.
When it comes to software, the picture is different. While the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony make quality watch hardware, they are being dragged down by Android Wear. Its convoluted watch menu system, and the overabundance of Google Now cards are two issues.
The experience on Android Wear has been poor enough for third-party Android smartwatch launchers to appear to improve the user experience. And it’s interesting to see Samsung and LG experimenting with other operating system such as Tizen and WebOS on their watches — Android Wear love is not universal.
Thankfully, there will be some improvement in Android Wear shortly as Google’s Lollipop is rolled out. It’s certainly viable despite poor Android watch sales to date. Hopefully Apple Watch will push Android to provide a much better user experience. Everyone will benefit from the competition.
So who will buy Apple Watch? A survey we published today by Pureprofile says about 4.2 per cent of adults in Australia intend to buy it as early adopters. Another 18.9 per cent may do so when it’s better known. The survey also found there were people who would buy Apple Watch without understanding what it does. Also, around a quarter of the population hadn’t heard about Appler Watch.
So the jury is out on its success. It will be fascinating to see how Apple Watch goes.