A number of people have already asked me what I think about the Apple Watch.
Thing is, none of the people asking me about the Apple Watch are in the tech community.
It already appears Apple has captured the general public’s interest in wearables like no previous company has yet to do. Whether they can translate that attention into a new product category like the iPod, iPhone and iPad before, or whether it never really takes off (can we say Ping?!?)…well, we’ll just have to see.
7 Reactions to the Apple Watch
In either case it’s useful to recap some of the thoughts I’ve been sharing with folks outside the tech circles. Here are 7 first reactions to Apple’s new watch:
1. It’s Not (Just) Technology
Yes there’s the Taptic feedback engine, and the Digital Crown input, and yes it runs apps, and it is a smartwatch. But it’s also jewelry, which is something no other smartwatch maker can honestly claim.
There are 34+ Apple Watch style variations. There are two sizes, with the smaller clearly aimed at women. Apple is trying harder than anyone else to make a wearable that the mass public will want to wear because it looks great.
2. And Even More, It’s Priced Like Jewelry
The Apple Watch starts at $349. For comparison, the best looking alternative smartwach, the Moto 360, is $249. And then there are the rumors that the high end gold watches will cost north of $1,000.
Again, we’re dealing with jewelry first, not technology, which is a different approach than the other manufacturers.
(And did we really expect Apple to do it any other way?)
3. Still, We Need to See It In Person
I’m taking the easy road and saying I need to see it in person to really know anything. How small is it? Will it feel like a hockey puck on your wrist? Do the magnetic bands actually work? Is it slim enough a long sleeve shirt can go over it?
Apple is trying to make a great looking watch but we won’t know if they succeeded until we all get hands on. For the first time in a long line of tech devices I’ve bought, this is something I want to touch & feel before buying.
4. Battery Life Will Be a Test
While Apple hasn’t officially announced battery specs it’s a safe bet it’ll be < 24 hours battery life. This is disappointing, even if it’s simply the reality of the technology at this point. A color screen and any significant amount of processing won’t let you last longer than a day in a device that small.
But as I tweeted earlier, daily charging is a big turn off.
Charging my #pebble every 5-7 days is annoying enough. Charging a watch daily sounds miserable. Not sure why, but not looking fwd to it
— Jeff Steinke (@jeff_steinke) September 11, 2014
5. It’s Not an Order of Magnitude Better
Neither the iPod, iPhone nor the iPad were the first entrants in their product categories when they were announced. However, they were all significantly better than their predecessors.
I’m not sold that’s the case with the Apple Watch. The latest Android Wear devices are great products and even the Pebble is great for what it’s designed for. Asus has a new watch that’s been well-reviewed and Microsoft is rumored to be announcing a cross-platform compatible watch.
The Apple Watch may be better than all of the above, but is it an order of magnitude better? I’m not sure yet.
6. Users Will be Highly Locked Into the Apple Ecosystem
The Apple Watch will only work with iPhones. No shocker there as most smartwatches on the market are platform specific. Heck, the Samsug Galaxy Gear only works with Samsung phones, locking itself out of the market of hundreds of other Android phones.
Still, it’s worth reiterating how big of a deal ecosystem lock is with smartwatches.
I switched from an Android phone to an iPhone about 18 months ago relatively easily. I have an Nexus 7 to compliment my iPhone and both work really well together. My Pebble works on iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.
Once I inevitably buy an Apple Watch next spring I’m really going to be locked into the Apple ecosystem. This is not good.
7. Lots of Unknowns
For all that we know, there’s still a lot – a whole lot – that we don’t know about the Apple Watch. Businessweek did a laughable side-by-side comparison of all the smartwatches.
Look at the specs for the Apple Watch:
“Holy N/A Batman!!”
Yes for all the excitement and anticipation we still have a lot to learn about the Apple Watch. However, I think Apple’s shown enough so far to deserve this excitement and anticipation. So until next spring we’ll have to wait to see if it lives up to the hype…