In a couple of months from now, Apple Watch is expected to be commercially launched. We have highlighted some interesting news, facts and tidbits about the widely-hyped smartwatch in the following piece.
While opinions about the success of Apple Watch remain divided, the smartwatch from the Cupertino tech giant has got to be one of the most eagerly anticipated gadgets in recent times. The interest primarily stems from two things – firstly, none of the smartwatches released till date have been able to make much of a mark (sorry, Samsung Galaxy Gear!), and Apple Watch might very well fill that void. Tech-geeks are also eager to find out how good, or otherwise, Tim Cook’s ‘first baby’ at Apple turns out to be. Let us here do a roundup of all the latest news and features about Apple Watch:
- Release date – Not yet confirmed, but Apple Inc. is hanging on to its promise of a ‘spring release’. Most technology enthusiasts as well as app developers expect Watch to be released sometime in March. According to a 9to5Mac report, employee training sessions will be started from February, to update the personnel about Watch.
- Price point – In the United States, the basic-level Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport will bear a price tag of $349. For buyers in the UK, the price of the same models should be just a shade under 300 Pounds. The stainless steel version is likely to be pricier, and should be available at around $500. There is also considerable buzz about the Gold Apple Watch – which will reportedly be priced at $5000. Let’s just say not everyone will be able to afford it!
- Apps for Apple Watch – In mid-November, Apple officially released WatchKit – the SDK for creating Watch apps by third-party iOS app developers. Most iPhone application development companies across the world have started making test apps for the smartwatch. For the time being, not every feature of Watch would be accessible for third-party developers though. Get an idea of the types of apps that are being prepared for Apple Watch here.
- Linking with paired iPhone – By now, it is common knowledge that Apple Watch will be heavily reliant on the iPhone paired with it. A special application, named ‘Companion app’, has recently been showcased by the company. According to reports from iOS app development forums, this app would be used for adjusting the app settings on Watch, as well as connecting the smartwatch with its corresponding paired iPhone. Interactivity between Apple Watch and iPhone can also be managed via Bluetooth.
- Arrival of the latest version of iOS – Beta versions of iOS 8.2 has already been seeded to developers, and it reportedly offers built-in support for Watch too. The first glimpses of the ‘Companion app’ were available with iOS 8.2 beta – and this version should become finally available by the end of January. It will be interesting to note whether Apple manages to iron out the problems that plagued its initial iOS 8 platform, and the subsequent iOS 8.1 update (iOS 8.0.1 and 8.0.2 were unmitigated disasters).
- There will be a special Apple Watch app – To ensure hassle-free handling and customizing of Watch, there will be a special ‘Apple Watch app’ (indicated in the Bluetooth instruction menu). Apart from controlling the smartwatch, this application would also come in handy for importing/downloading other iOS apps on Watch. Mobile app developers are not exactly sure about the types of apps that can be downloaded on Watch though.
- Quanta is in charge of Watch’s mass production – Many Apple-fans are not aware that Watch will not be created in-house. Instead, the mass production of the wearable gadget will be handled by Quanta Computers – a company located at North Taiwan. Quanta is the biggest manufacturer of personal computers in the world, and is often entrusted with making gadgets for leading tech companies. The new 12” MacBook Air will also be produced by Quanta.
- Customization options – The iOS environment is still not as customizable as its premier rival, Google Android – but Apple is definitely moving in the right direction. For Watch, there will be a unique ‘Monogram’ feature. After activating it, users will be able to actually engrave words (of maximum four letters) on the face/dial of the timepiece. Glances, Faces and Complications are other key app features that can be personalized. The built-in calendar and alarm settings can be tweaked about too.
- Volume of initial shipments – Tim Cook and his team are expecting at least 30 million units of Apple Watch to be sold within the first twelve months of it hitting the markets. The first round of shipments will contain around 5 million units of the smartwatch, and by the end of 2015 – 24-25 million units are expected to be shipped. Many tech market analysts and iPhone app developers predict even higher sales figures – and if those projections come true, the shipment volumes will have to be increased.
- Interacting with the Watch – Watch will not have a built-in keyboard – a point that is being debated hotly among professional device critics and app development experts. However, users will be able to interact with Watch via dictation and/or emojis. The smartwatch, just like iPhones, will have the Siri digital assistant – with the usual ‘Hey Siri’ functions. Transcriptions of voice messages sent to and from Watch would also be viewable.
- Battery life – Arguably the most dicey aspect about Apple Watch. In a report published in Re/Code, it was confirmed that the battery life of Watch is currently around 24 hours. This is not even close to the battery backup that already released smartwatches like MetaWatch and Pebble (6-7 days) offer. There have been rumors that Apple representatives themselves are not exactly pleased with the battery performance of Watch. Jeff Williams (Apple Senior VP) can claim to make ‘the best product in the world’ - but if Watch’s battery life turns out to be notoriously low, its popularity might take a prompt nosedive.
- Charging Apple Watch – As per available reports, Apple Watch will have to be charged ‘at nights’ (there are doubts about whether that would affect the functionality of the built-in fitness apps). The Cupertino company has, however, made sure that the charging method is as secure as they come. The foolproof MagSafe technology has been used in the inductive charging mechanism for Watch. It’s another matter that people won’t like to charge the smartwatch too frequently!
- How will Apple Watch facilitate communication? – Difficult to say until we get a first-hand feel of the device, but from the looks of it, Apple Watch will be an efficient communication tool. Professionals from the iOS app development domain have confirmed that people will be able to send/receive text messages, emails, and voice calls. Audio files, in their original form or transcripts, can also be shared via Watch. Users will also have the option to share their location with others. Since ‘Handoff’ will be supported, a task started on Watch can be finished on its paired iPhone too.
- Capacitive display screen – The much-hyped smartwatch will have a high-end capacitive screen. To access third-party apps for Apple Watch, users will have to either swipe or tap on the screen. To view notifications on Watch, a horizontal swiping gesture will be required. Vertical swiping would open up calendar data.
Interestingly for iOS app developers, all Watch apps are expected to be scaled down clones of corresponding iPhone/iPad applications. Forrester reports suggest that Apple Watch can very well turn out to be the most successful wearable device of 2015. However, if the battery problems are not sorted out in time – the gadget might run into trouble later on. For now though, the wait is on for the official announcement of the release date for Watch.
Do you feel that Apple Watch will be a hit?