The oft-rumoured Apple Watch is here and, based on the demos we’ve seen thus far, it’s pretty damn special. Anyone else that makes a smart watch might want to step their game up. Several levels.
The Apple Watch comes in two flavours, a smaller model in a 32mm housing (ideal for those with tiny wrists) and a 42mm unit for more manly wrists. Both come with a flexible, sapphire-coated, pressure-sensitive retina display, and a choice of six interchangeable wrist straps that let the user reflect their own style.
Predictably, the Apple Watch is packed with clever functionality. Its default screen is a watch face of your own choosing (several animated styles are available), though a tap of the digital crown (that wheel-cum-knob on the side) transports the user to the home screen; a seemingly chaotic, but surprisingly organised collection of spherical icons with a small watch face at the centre.
Users can navigate the menu system by swiping a finger across the screen. Zooming to see finer detail isn’t performed with pinch or stretch gestures, but rather with the digital crown. Spinning it forward zooms in or makes adjustments to settings, while spinning it backwards lets you do the opposite. It’s a clever solution to the issue of constantly obscuring the screen with your own fingers, a problem many rival smart watches are burdened with.
The Apple Watch has its own set of apps, most designed for ‘lightweight’ interaction. You can read text messages sent to your phone directly on the small screen and reply with a set of templates such as “I’ll call you back,” “be there in 5 mins,” etc. Longer, more complex replies have to be composed on the iPhone.
The Apple Watch is compatible with the new iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone 5S and 5, as well as iPhone 4S.
Tapping the button below the digital crown takes you to a contacts screen, from where you can initiate calls.
The Apple Watch allows users to send a variety of quirky data. It’s possible to send quick sketches drawn on the display, or more personal data such as your heart rate (detected via photo sensors on the underside of the watch, directly to other Watche users.
The Apple Watch will offer a comprehensive set of health-related features. It uses its gyroscope and accelerometer, as well as the GPS and WiFi from your iPhone, to monitor your every move, and can establish and suggest goals and offer graphical rewards for good performance.
The Apple Watch is available in three forms. The basic Watch model is finished in either stainless steel or space black stainless steel; Watch Sport comes in anodised aluminium with strengthened Ion-X glass and colourful, durable, sweatproof bands; while Watch Edition is finished in 18-karat yellow or rose gold.
Pricing is set to start at $349 (which directly converts to £217), so expect to pay around £250 when it hits the UK.
Check out our full Apple Watch preview, and stay tuned to Recombu for our full review and more soon.