More than a year was the wait for Apple Watch and now it is here, standing tall to hit shelves on April 24. Ahead of it the best thing to say about the wearable is that it gives the feel of watch and is not overly heavy.
Among the first things that struck me, though, was that this is going to require a bit of a learning curve. I kept, for example, wanting to pinch and zoom on the watch face when all that was required was to scroll the digital crown on the side, which in itself took some getting used to. Just below that crown is a button, so you have to learn when to use the crown, when to use the button and when for that matter to tap or swipe against the screen.
What I did find simpler than expected was the ability to summon the proper apps on the home display I intended to call up, despite the fact that some of the apps seemed bunched close together.
In the few minutes I had the watch on I changed watch faces — the animated Mickey Mouse watch face is my early favorite — checked my heart rate and drew a circle on the display with my finger that I was able to share in near real time with an Apple representative who had her own watch.
In the half-year since Apple first unveiled what were then very early pre-release versions of its long-anticipated Apple Watch, every stakeholder in the game — Apple’s ever-growing list of smartwatch competitors, Wall Street, we in the news media and most importantly the public — has been waiting to hear what Apple CEO Cook would reveal Monday.
Certain other things about the new wearable can be gleaned immediately, starting with the fact Apple’s watches meet the critical fashion test. These are generally lovely timepieces that come in enough styles and colors to fit most people’s idea of something that looks splendid on the wrist. They’re not like many of the geeky-looking smartwatches that came to define the nascent days of the wearables space.
There are three collections: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and the limited editionApple Watch Edition, each with 38- and 42-mm sizing options and with numerous watchband selections.
Apple says the battery will last 18 hours after juicing it up through a snap-on proprietary magnetic charger, but until you put it through its paces you never know.
You can call Siri into duty on the watch by yelling out, “Hey, Siri,” but in the crowded and loud demonstration room she didn’t always respond immediately. Incidentally, her own responses to your questions about the weather or what have you appear on the watch face. You don’t actually hear Siri’s voice as you do on an iPhone
Speaking of which, the new watches are meant to be companions for the iPhone. They don’t work with an iPad, much less any competitive devices. You can download the iOS software upgrade starting today that you’ll need to find apps for the watch. Checking out the videos in the app will give you a head start on using the watch.
I’m really eager to try making and receiving calls Dick Tracy-style on my wrist, but it is worth pointing out that Apple’s isn’t the first watch to allow such a stunt. (Calls are coming via the iPhone.) Samsung beat them to the punch, not that I found it a great experience on their devices. Still, you can imagine certain scenarios — while driving — where wrist calling might be palatable.
I’m definitely eager to dig deeper into some of the fitness capabilities of the watch and to try transacting at retail through Apple Pay, which you activate by double-pressing a button on the side. Instead of authenticating a purchase with your fingerprint as on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, the security elements are built into the watch. And whenever you take the watch off, and then put it back on, you’ll have to enter a PIN to make it Apple Pay-ready.