Like most things Apple, the Apple Watch is both attractive and higher priced than other smartwatches. It will do almost anything except wash your dishes, but the geeks of Cupertino are probably beavering away on an app that will let your watch start your dishwasher from a remote location.
What has any of this to do with telling time? A lot, actually. The Apple Watch does a lot of things beyond what used to require a stopwatch. It will take your pulse and tell you how far and how fast you have walked or run – its fitness features seem to be pretty popular. It will play music. In fact, some of its most popular accessories are headphones and loudspeakers.
Heck, it even has GPS. It can be synchronized with one’s iPhone (model 5 or newer) to let the wearer know when a call, text, or email is coming in. It also provides weather reports and forecasts in addition to making and receiving phone calls. One can dictate messages to be sent later. And it does tell time – either digitally or with an electronic image of a traditional watch dial.
Anyone who remembers Dick Tracy will be right at home with it.
But there is a downside. To perform all those functions the Apple 1 Watch requires a lot of electricity. As advertised it has “up to 18 hours of battery life,” which means it will run out of juice before the day runs out of hours. That can be annoying if one has a schedule to keep. To recharge the battery one must place the watch on an “inductive” charger, which looks a little like a small white plate with a USB cord attached. Charging is not instantaneous. Think of it as the Tesla of watches.
The Apple Watch features a rectangular case with smoothed and beveled edges. It comes with a variety of wristbands from fabric to Hermes leather. And its case, which measures either 38 or 42 millimeters ranges from aluminum to stainless steel to solid gold.
Pricing starts at about $149 for the most modest version, while top-of-the-line 18K gold models run between $10,000 and $17,000. In that regard the Apple 1 Watch is a bit like Alfred P. Sloan’s idea of General Motors – a product for (almost) every purse.
Despite increasing competition in the smart-watch category, Apple markets the watch as a lifestyle item. Other than its fitness features, which are made possible because one wears it, it really does not do any more than an iPhone, and its small size can make it difficult to initiate a phone call. For example, there is no room for a keypad.
However, when it was introduced a little over a year ago, it generated a great deal of excitement. It really created its own category, and Apple wants to keep it that way. The company markets dozens of watch accessories – from simple charging cables to elaborate table-top stands to devices that will charge both an iPhone and the watch simultaneously. Headphones, mostly by Beats, start at $199.95 for the simplest earbud and go as high as $499.95 for slick looking model from B&O.
There are several models of loudspeakers for the Apple Watch from a number of manufacturers including Bose. Most are reasonably priced and use a Bluetooth connection to the watch, but a space age looking model from Naim Audio will set you back $1,499.95.
One can buy a wireless blood pressure cuff for $129.95. $299.95 will get you either the Withings Aura Smart Sleep System or the Arccos Golf Tracking System.
The Smart Sleet System is billed as helping “to improve your sleep and wake-up experience by using a unique combination of sleep-cycle analysis and environmental sensing, along with an easy-to-use mobile app.”
The Golf Tracking System is a tiny Bluetooth device that attaches to the grip end of a golf club. Its app has maps of 18,000 golf courses in the US and Canada. It tracks and analyzes one’s golf swing in real time and is supposed to help the golfer play a better game. The set contains 13 identical tracking devices and one specifically for the putter. So if you see a golfer checking his or her Apple Watch constantly it’s not necessarily because he or she is trying to make it back to the clubhouse before last call.
Since Apple introduced its watch several competitors have come to market. A lot of them lack the functionality of the Apple Watch, and particular models still need to be paired with a separate heart rate monitor to detect your heart rhythm, Apple Watch can do this through its light sensors on your wrist.