The New Apple Watch Hailed As The Most Advanced Time Piece

The newly launched Apple Watch is Apple Inc.’s first new gadget in five years. It is also the first product that has been launched since the death of the company co-founder and ex-CEO, Steve Jobs.
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By Hayley Axford

The newly launched Apple Watch is Apple Inc.’s first new gadget in five years. It is also the first product that has been launched since the death of the company co-founder and ex-CEO, Steve Jobs.

Speaking at Apple’s Spring Forward event in San Francisco on 9 March 2015, current CEO Tim Cook said, “The Apple Watch is the most advance time piece ever created… [It] allows you to communicate immediately and much more intimately than before.”

Apple has announced that the new gadget will go on sale at Apple stores on 24 April 2015, but will also be available at various stores and boutiques in major cities. The watch will ship to the most industrialized countries in the world, namely the USA, UK, Australia, China, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan.

Apple launched its advertising campaign for the watch in a 12 page insert in the March issue of Vogue magazine. This is a clear indication that the watch will not only appeal as a new gadget, but will be considered a fashion statement as well. Before the watch will go on sale, there will be a series of previews where people will be able to see it, touch it and try it on, on an appointment basis only.

The watch comes in three collections: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Apple Watch features stainless steel in two finishes – traditional and space black. Apple Watch Sport has cases made from anodized aluminium in either silver or space grey. The Apple Watch Edition is by far the most expensive of the three, as it comes in 18 carat solid yellow or rose gold. 

Why so expensive?

The stainless steel used to make the cases becomes up to 80% harder through a specialized cold-forging process. The aluminium used for the Apple Sport Watch is 60% stronger than standard alloys, but in terms of weight, it is just as light. The many wrist straps available affects the price as various Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition models are priced according to the band and finish. The selection of straps includes: sport band, classic buckle, leather loop, modern buckle, Milanese look and link bracelet, each of which are available in a variety of colours.

How it works

The Apple Watch is powered by Apple’s new S1 chip and features a 38mm-wide, 340 x 272 pixel rectangular screen, which is increased on larger models. The display is coated with sapphire to protect the device from scratches. The watch has a touch screen interface which allows you to tap and swipe your way through the system, with several other new means of interaction that have been introduced. The Digital Crown Knob acts as a home button that you can press to return to the main screen and can be turned to allow you to zoom or scroll through the various options in the interface. For hands-free control, you can interact with the Apple Watch via Siri, Apple’s voice-powered digital assistant that can take dictation to compose messages, find the nearest coffee shop or restaurant, and tell you the next appointment on your schedule.

The Apple Watch runs a simpler version of iOS to its smartphone counterpart. This means that you won’t be able to make phone calls or used web based services from the watch without it being connected to a compatible device, such as the iPhone 5 and up, which run the latest version of iOS 8. The watch pairs with iPhones via Bluetooth Low Energy and built-in Wi-Fi.

What you can use your Apple Watch for

  • The Apple Watch has a built-in NFC Chip to support on-tap payments with Apple Pay. This digital wallet feature allows you to pay for food or goods by holding your wrist up to the payment terminal. The watch will make a sound and vibrate once the payment has been confirmed.
  • Fitness Tracking sets fitness goals and monitors real-life stats. The tracked data can be sent to your phone’s iPhone Health app, which can be shared with third party fitness programmes. Stand Reminders notifies you via a nudge when you have been sitting down for too long.
  • You can make and take calls from your wrist.

Some of the featured apps (with more to come)

  • Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat
  • OpenTable – finds restaurants that are nearby and shows real-time availability. You can also view menus and reviews.
  • Uber – requests the services of a driver.
  • Shazam – captures music and TV playing around you.
  • SPG – has a hotel check-in with room key functionality.
  • Honeywell Lyric – controls the thermostat in rooms that you are in.

Charging and battery life

The Apple Watch comes with its own MagSafe charging cable which is very easy to use. According to Apple, “you simply hold the connector near the back of the watch, where magnets cause it to snap into place automatically”. The battery is expected to last 18 hours after charge, which means you will probably have to charge it daily.

When will it be available in South Africa

The Apple Watch is not expected to arrive in South Africa until much later in 2015. It is uncertain if the watch will take off in the country due to the price. The Apple Watch Sport’s 38 mm will go for R4 499, while the 42mm will go for R5 299. The Apple Watch, depending on the strap chosen, will sell for between R7 499 and R14 499. The most expensive of the three in the collection, the Apple Watch Edition could range in price between R150 000 and R250 000.