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article imageOp-Ed: Is the Apple Watch a necessity or luxurious accessory?

By Daniel Woods     Apr 27, 2015 in Technology
Is Apple Watch really the next big thing set for ubiquity and will it revolutionise wearable technology? Or is it just an expensive luxury?
A few years ago I was firmly set against buying Apple products. I saw the company as too big, and too dominant – I felt a moral duty in the name of market diversity to support other companies. Today all of my essential devices are Apple – laptop, desktop, phone, and tablet. So what compelled this conversion you may wonder? Well the fact is that all the Apple products I have had to date just work. And because they just work, it leaves me with more time to focus on being productive.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have had technical problems with any of them. And the seamless iCloud workflow that integrates across all devices means I can resume work on any of them without having to touch a button to update or transfer.
The beauty of Apple products is their smooth efficiency and reliability, and all the way through the user experience powerful technology is delivered in a reassuringly simple way. Apple were very clever by using images of nature in both the software and physical design.
Technology and nature are usually represented as opposites, but in Apple products they meet. And the overall effect is their technology becomes much more seductive.
Given my obvious affection, you would probably expect it to be a certainty that I would be adding the Apple watch to my collection of Cupertino creations.
But I am not so sure.
I watched the live event when Apple unveiled it’s first foray into wearable technology, while also keeping tabs on the Apple share price. I wanted to see how the markets would react - and their judgement on the Apple Watch was pretty clear. When the new gold/silver/space grey Macbook was revealed the share price rose steadily. But when it came to the Apple Watch, the company’s shares took a sustained nosedive which continued right through until the end of the presentation.
So the markets also seemed unconvinced.
There is no doubt it is a beautifully designed piece as you would expect from Apple, blending smooth minimalist form with finely engineered materials. Due to the screen size Apple had to reinvent how users would interact with such a small device. The constraints of a reduced screen presented a unique problem, but Apple came up with a unique solution - the Digital Crown. A dial that functions as a home button, and also allows you to scroll and zoom your way through the interface.
Apple Watch also incorporates a new feature which represents an evolution in touchscreens - Force Touch. The screen is pressure sensitive and can recognise the distinction between a tap and a press. Force Touch allows the user to initiate actions and navigate through apps.
But what does it actually do, how useful it is going to be for you, how will it enhance either your professional or personal experience? It will make and receive phone calls, send and receive texts, take dictated messages, relay music through Bluetooth to wireless headphones, authorise payments via Apple Pay, engage with your calendar, navigate maps, browse photos, use Siri and receive all of your notifications.
The watch face has many colour options, combinations and widgets so you can customise the appearance. It has fitness functions, such as steps tracker, calorie burn, heart rate monitor, and measures activity levels such as how sedentary you are, or how vigorous your movement has been. After some data has been recorded the watch will then begin to suggest tailor made exercise routines.
The price structure covers a very broad spectrum, US$349 to US$17,000 with different colours, sizes, materials – stainless steel, aluminium and gold – and changeable straps. Apple Watch, the entry level version is steel silver or black with a sapphire crystal display. Apple Watch Sport the mid range model, comes with aluminium cases in silver or grey and scratch resistant Ion – X glass. The high end end Apple Watch Edition comes with 18 carat gold cases in yellow or rose and again a sapphire crystal display.
So it sounds pretty amazing.
Is there a downside? Well yes. The Apple Watch cannot offer full functionality without a paired and synchronised iPhone. It is absolutely not a standalone autonomous device. It requires your iPhone to be within Bluetooth range (approximately 30 feet), or can connect over WiFi. The battery life is also an issue, as the watch needs a daily charge, potentially more if using functions such as phone calls.
Another drawback is that the Apple Watch may not be upgradeable. iFixit took the Apple Watch apart, and found that it’s S1 chip had soldered connectors, which suggests an upgrade of internal components will not be possible. So it is unclear how quickly the first generation will become obsolete.
Personally, I remain unconvinced of the Apple Watch's necessity. It has all the signs of quality that you associate with Apple – gorgeous design, an intuitive interface, and premium materials. It is certainly a wonderful and impressive piece of technology but until it becomes a fully functional standalone device I'm just not sure I need it, and it is probably best thought of as a complimentary accessory to your iPhone, an iPhone satellite on your wrist.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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