Why I’m not yet sold on the Apple Watch and why Apple offers so many options

By SteveJack

After he watched Apple’s presentation and reviewed the company’s website regarding the Apple Watch, a friend sent me a message:

I’m not sold on the Watch, yet, and I need to hold each new iPhone in my hand in order to decide between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As a runner, longtime Nike+ FuelBand user, Nike+ iPod and Nike+ Running app user on iPhone and also a GPS watch user, there are some important issues Apple Watch doesn’t seem to have solved as far as a fitness device.

My GPS watch [ESN WR72 Alpha] is awesome for running and especially on the golf course, but, with GPS on, the battery lasts for just about 54 holes of golf [about 12 hours]. That’s it. So, I clearly understand why Apple has left GPS out of the Watch – it’s due to battery life, if not (even more) additional thickness. (In some shots, Apple Watch looks thick. In others, it looks very wearable. I need to try one on to make up my mind on that point.) Still, Apple seems to have gone very far out on the limb with so many options and finishes – all the way up to 18K gold, all of those different bands and two sizes for what I see as a 1st generation device (more beta than Generation 1 at this point, to be honest) that will need to be replaced with the next generation in a year or two.

Also, Apple Watch seems to let the user get a heartbeat while in motion, without stopping. This is a big deal to runners like me. We don’t like to stop, or wear chest straps, so that’s a big selling point right there.

Apple Watch
Apple Watch

 
Yes, GPS is a battery pig, as any iPhone (or iPhone knockoff) user knows. Apple was right to leave it out of Apple Watch. Unless and until we get some sort of portable power breakthrough (that guy or gal is going to get filthy rich!), we’re stuck dealing with battery life limitations.

As for the many different Apple Watch options — Jony Ive told ABC News, “When you actually do the calculations, it’s millions and millions” — I believe that Apple figured they needed to go “all in” to prove they’re totally committed to Watch and, with their enormous cash reserves, they’ll simply take the hit on whatever inventory management issues come their way. When entering a new market, with Apple’s resources, it’s preferable to spend rather than look like they’re just tentatively dipping a toe in by offering just one or two Watch options.

Further, and even more importantly, the huge range of Apple Watch options (sizes, finishes, materials, bands) makes it really difficult, if not impossible, for Samsung, Xiaomi, and the rest of the knockoff peddlers to come up with so many well-designed options. Sure, they can come up with a bunch of colored watch bands, but are they going to look, feel, and work like all of those already painstakingly designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson? No, of course not. Just like iPhone knockoffs, they won’t come remotely close to the full experience that only Apple offers to their customers. The inventory management alone, of which Tim Cook is the world’s preeminent expert, would kill the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi et al.

Apple is focused on doing things for customers that no other company on earth can do. If patents and the law won’t protect Apple’s ideas, creating and accomplishing things that are impossible to replicate is the only true method of protection that exists for Apple’s IP (hence the huge sapphire investment, the Liquidmetal licensing, etc.)

Back to fitness: iPhone is not required for Apple Watch unless you want a maps and location of your runs. Apple Watch has a built-in accelerometer, so it’ll be able track your steps, distance, and pace (via a pedometer that you can calibrate to your stride). Therefore, even without iPhone, you’ll know the how far you’ve gone, you just won’t know where you’ve gone. If you want a map of your route, you’ll need to strap the iPhone to your arm or carry it in your hand as usual. For avid runners who want course mapping and who also lust after the mammoth iPhone 6 Plus (6.22 inches (158.1 mm) x 3.06 inches (77.8 mm) x 0.28 inch (7.1 mm) at 6.07 ounces (172 grams), this will create a dilemma. You may want to go with the iPhone 6 instead.

Unlike my friend, I am sold on Apple Watch, so in closing I’ll simply repeat a bit of what I wrote just after Apple Watch was unveiled:

Apple Watch already does so much, but once third-party developers get a hold of WatchKit and really dig in, the sky’s the limit! The Apple Watch is going to be a massive hit that sells millions upon millions of units.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, former web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

Related article:
Apple Watch, the world’s first real smartwatch, will be a massive hit – September 9, 2014

21 Comments

  1. You’d think that GPS would also make the watch get quite warm. All that heat in a small space.. might give one burns. I noticed a long time ago that driving around with the iPhone using Maps and plugged into the charger got really hot; partly from the GPS and partly for the battery recharging constantly.

      1. No camera. The Samsung watch and Google glass have caused a lot of privacy concerns. Some places have banned them. Camera quality is better with a larger size, watch wearability is better with smaller size.

    1. Blood sugar monitoring was never likely. Many of us debated the issue at length, with those of us who had an ounce of knowledge arguing against it being there. Then the rumors of the last few weeks made it sound like it was clear it would be there. I had (and will continue to have) high hopes, but don’t expect it soon.

      It does measure heart rate. That’s pretty much it.

      1. Yes, after surfing a bit I see your point. However, one promising deal by Sano Intelligence is a patch that continuously monitors blood sugar, and may soon work wirelessly with one’s iPhone, and by corollary with one’s iWatch. Also after some thought, I realize that to take a reading of one’s blood pressure, you’d have to wrap the iWatch around your upper arm and have it constrict for a good measure, but that’s probably asking for too much. I was disappointed by the missing FaceTime. If anyone is capable of delivering the fabled Dick Tracy watch, it is Apple. What a letdown.

  2. kayan,

    Once you calibrate the pedometer in the app (I run 3 miles at least and then calibrate) it can be accurate enough for training, certainly more accurate than you insinuate.

    1. I can make an “accurate enough for training” estimate of how far I ran myself, without a $300 gadget. I think the entire point of having a dedicated fitness gadget like this is to go beyond just estimates and guesswork, and start using hard scientific data to shape your workouts.

  3. They need that may options (and more, really) because a watch isn’t a gadget. It’s not even a tool. A watch is fashion, it’s status, and it’s self-expression.

    Apple knows this, and that’s why Apple will win that real estate.

    Apple knows it hasn’t gone far enough yet. Apple is doubling-down on the fashion front. This is just the beginning.

  4. The watch reminds me of my first iPhone, same rounded edge and thickness. The third generation when the thickened is reduced will be fantastic, currently the proportions are not great. What I found most impressive are the watch bands, there is a lot of genius there.

  5. I’ve always preferred heart rate monitoring to steps. That way you can accurately see how hard you’ve worked, if not how far.

    Still, not waterproof = no sale. Hopefully they’ll have figured this out by the next generation.

  6. AppleWatch is solving a HUGE PROBLEM nobody is talking about!!!

    Here it is……pass it along-
    There are three huge problem areas that the Apple watch will solve. Problem one- damage. Problem two- distraction. Problem three- security.

    Regarding damage issues-
    How many times a day do you take your smart phone out of your pocket or out of your phone holder/purse etc.? Every time you rummage around looking for the phone to figure out what the latest chime, ring tone, vibration, or other notification was about you expose your self to potentially dropping, losing, or seriously damaging your phone if you miss handle it. With the Apple watch you simply look at your wrist and see what the notification is that you are receiving and your phone stays safely wherever you may be keeping it.

    Regarding distraction-
    Obviously rummaging for your phone, trying to scroll down and find the correct app that has your latest notification is extremely distracting and many times for many people a two-handed operation. As YouTube and other Internet video sites can attest there are many instances where people have been seriously injured and even killed while distracted playing around with their smart phone. With the Apple watch functionality and simplicity, many rudimentary tasks and responses can be done so very quickly utilizing the preprogrammed responses.

    Regarding security-
    Security issues have been rampant with all smart phones regardless of manufacturer. However, the best security now belongs to the Apple iPhone arena. Touch ID and Apple pay will raise the security level for numerous transactions coupled with awesome simplicity. Remember, right now the numerous times you take your iPhone out on a daily basis in a public setting you are subjecting yourself to victimization by the Apple thieves and other assorted dregs and skells of humanity.! The Apple watch will permit you to pay for things at a NFC enabled touchpad without having to display your phone. A simple wave of the watch touching the terminal will suffice. Looking at a watch display will be much less distracting than the status quo two-handed fumbling around with your smart phone that is going on these days.

    Time will tell, and the Apple consumers will dictate whether or not the Apple watch is a success. I’m betting it will be a huge success and we just don’t know it yet!

  7. My first impression at first sight of the watch during the keynote was “dang that’s fat”. I was envisioning a piece half the thinness of the current one. Why? Because Apple has submitted patent applications of building battery into the armband, so I expected the battery to be there and not in the actual watch. I am still hoping that Apple will do that in a year or two. Until then, it just looks too clunky.

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