“fitness tracking, communication, phone calls, wireless music playback, and a lot more”
The company’s first smartwatch is an evolution of the iPod Nano that could strap to your wrist. But it’s far more advanced than that. It’s a device that can act as a wrist companion for all sorts of things: fitness tracking, communication, phone calls, wireless music playback, and a lot more. But for most of those functions, right now, you need an iPhone nearby that it can pair to.
WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD?
Much like most other smartwatches, the Apple Watch isn’t a standalone device — it’s a phone accessory. Android Wear, Samsung Gear, Pebble and others work the same way. But here, you must own an iPhone 5 or later to use the watch. A few Apple Watch functions work away from the phone, but the watch primarily works alongside the phone as an extension, a second screen and basically another part of your iOS experience. It’s a symbiote. And it either needs to be in Bluetooth range (30 or so feet), or it can connect over Wi-Fi in a home or office to extend that range further.
Communication, fitness, information, time: these are the core Apple Watch functions. It receives messages from friends and families, send texts and lets you dictate messages, make speakerphone calls, ping people with animated emoji, give love taps long-distance or send your heartbeat as a sort of long-distance hug. It tracks your steps, logs runs and monitors your heart rate. And yes, you can use Apple Watch to listen to music via wireless Bluetooth headphones. You can play songs like an iPod, get notifications and run apps like a mini iPhone and make payments with Apple Pay. And it has a totally new force-sensitive display that’s never been seen before.
And of course, it tells the time.
- 42mm (390×312 pixel) display (as tested)
- 50g, 42mm x 35.9mm x 10.5mm stainless steel case (as tested)
- Apple S1 processor, 8GB onboard storage
- Up to 18 hours battery life
- Heart rate, accelerometer, gyroscope and ambient light sensors
- Terrific hardware design
- Basic features offer instant utility
- More advanced features are less than intuitive
- Battery life still isn’t great. But at least it lasts a full day, plus a little more.
The Apple Watch is a design feat, no matter how you look at it. The construction of the case, and the attention to detail paid to elements like the digital crown and strap connector are outstanding. In general, the feel of the Watch on the wrist is way beyond anything that anyone else making smartwatches has so far produced.