Apple Watch first take: Fashion and technology make this Apple’s most daring, risky bet yet

Can Apple make us care about smartwatches?

OPINION: I am thoroughly unimpressed with smartwatches. Admittedly, in reviewing Android Wear watches for IT Pro's sister title Computeractive, I've seen glimmers of potential in features like Google Now.

For the most part though, the clunky software design and appalling battery life have left me pining for my trusty analogue Seiko. Apple, however, works on its own terms. At no point does Apple ever use the term smartwatch' to describe its simply-named Watch both semantically, functionally, aesthetically and in terms of price, Cupertino is trying to set the Apple Watch apart from all other wrist-worn computers.

My smartwatch scepticism stems from their complexity and lack of purpose. Apple is all about simplicity and elegance. Watches are already supremely simple and elegant timepieces that track the time very well. Then there's purpose. To put up with battery life of a day or two, compared to years for a standard analogue or digital watch, a smartwatch has to offer something truly, profoundly useful.

Semantically, functionally, aesthetically and in terms of price, Cupertino is trying to set the Apple Watch apart from all other wrist-worn computers.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Android Wear, thus far, has fallen far short of this lofty goal. Google Now is too imperfect. The constant flood of notifications from a paired smartphone is infuriating rather than useful. The selection of apps is anaemic and hardly more convenient than using your phone. The available selection of watch faces are hideous looking and barely functional attempting to find a watch face with minute markers and the date which wasn't butt ugly proved impossible.

Convenience is the key word here. The Cupertino Cook crew is betting that the series of little conveniences offered by the Apple Watch will make it indispensable in your everyday life. Using it for contactless payments (at stores that support Apple Pay). Literally opening doors at hotels and airports by using it as a wrist-worn replacement for boarding passes and room keys. Sending quick messages, either text, audio, drawings or even heart beats taken using its built-in heart rate sensor, to loved ones. Notifications from your iPhone, but those heavily customised to your exact preferences. Apps from the likes of Salesforce, giving you quick snippets of information when you need them most.

It's a bold, daring bet by Apple. Especially as many consumers, the intended market, have yet to be convinced by smartwatches never mind businesses. It's an especially bold bet given the cost. The cheapest Apple Watch costs 299 with an aluminium casing and a rubber strap.

This quickly escalates though. There are too many variants to list here, but the cheapest version with a steel casing and band costs 819. This is pricey by the standards of other smartwatches, but pocket change for moneyed watch aficionados who dismiss Rolexs and Omegas as chav chaff.

Then there are the limited edition gold versions with prices that quickly reach four and even five figures. These would be small prices to pay for those that can afford them and want an heirloom to pass onto their progeny. That's conceivable for a timeless Patek Philippe or Christian Jacques.

Technology ages fast though and it's very hard to imagine an Apple Watch holding its value for decades like a luxury Swiss watch does especially for a product with chips and screens that can and will stop working and will likely be irreparable.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Still, if any technology company can pull off this delicate balance between technology and fashion then it's Apple. The Apple Watch is nothing if not physically beautiful. The straps and bands alone are intricately eye-catching. The ease with which they can be interchanged with each other makes the fiddly jeweller's tools needed for standard watch straps and bands seem antiquated in comparison.

I remain to be convinced by smartwatches. If the rest of you share my scepticism, then Apple has a lot of hard sells to make. Still, a product as bold and risky as the Apple Watch is exactly what I've come to expect from Cupertino. The future of the Apple Watch is murky but it'll be damn interesting to watch unfold.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/business-strategy/33311/apple-launches-new-tv-gaming-and-finance-services
Business strategy

Apple launches new TV, gaming and finance services

25 Mar 2019
Visit/hardware/laptops/354509/apple-macbook-pro-16in-review-a-little-bigger-a-lot-better
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 16in review: A little bigger, a lot better

10 Jan 2020
Visit/mobile/23617/the-best-smartphones-to-buy
Mobile

Best smartphone 2019: Apple, Samsung and OnePlus duke it out

24 Dec 2019
Visit/hardware/354336/the-it-pro-products-of-the-year-2019-all-the-years-best-hardware
Hardware

The IT Pro Products of the Year 2019: All the year’s best hardware

24 Dec 2019

Most Popular

Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/laptops/354533/dell-xps-13-new-9300-hands-on-review-chasing-perfection
Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020