On Apple Watch

Apple Watch is (nearly) here, we have answers to most of the questions that remained, and we got to see the device actually in action after Apple's special event1.

Rather than write about the news from the event, I wanted to take some time to re-watch the keynote, digest the information and allow my opinions to form over a couple of days.

Having thought the event would comprise of almost only Apple Watch-related topics, I was surprised that the Watch portion of the event came across as the least exciting. Six months is a long time, and I can understand Apple wanting to cover a lot of the same ground as the September event just before the Watch ships, but when you have an all-new MacBook and extremely interesting ResearchKit project, it's easy for those of us that follow tech to consider this old ground boring. However, I did take away a number of new thoughts.

Battery life — one of the big debates — was clarified: 18 hours is what you'll get. As Tim Cook said on stage, that should be enough for most people. Apple broke this down further on its site — it takes 1.5 hours to charge to 80%, 2.5 hours to charge fully — and I have to say this was better than I expected. If Apple Watch can serve me from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed, I'll be happy.

Price was the other big talking point. Apple Watch Sport has the simplest pricing — $349 for the 38mm and $399 for the 42mm — which, although pricier than some alternatives, is an acceptable entry point. Apple Watch (the stainless steel version) prices run from $549 to $1,049 for the 38mm size and $50 more for the 42mm, with price being dependent on the strap you choose. Although Apple didn't explicitly promote this during the presentation, I was pleased to see that all straps will be made available to purchase seperately (save for the gold Edition versions). I'm hoping to get the Space Gray Apple Watch Sport with its included Black Sport Band plus a Leather Loop (currently undecided on color) as an add-on.

Apple Watch Edition is crazy expensive at $10,000 through $17,000 but if you're worried about the price, I guess it's not aimed at you. Cook was notably careful about pitching the Edition as "special" in its materiality and "limited" in its availability — I think this was both to emphasize its luxury appeal as well as convince the audience of tech nerds that it's kind of a seperate thing, something Apple is doing on the side2.

Back in September, I was struck by how many things Apple Watch could do. I half-wrote a post about Apple Watch and gimmicks, but it never really formed into anything more than a rant so I canned it. The general argument was that the product did too much, was unfocused, and needed an overall vision. Others felt the same.

Apple has since honed this down to three main selling points: Timekeeping, New Ways to Connect and Health & Fitness3. But during a demo portion of the keynote on Monday, Kevin Lynch showed off even more functionality, including a number of third-party apps. I still feel like the Watch does too much, but I no longer feel this has to be a negative thing.

I think it's going to be overwhelming at first — and I'm surprised Apple didn't strip back the functionality a little in version one — coupled with the new, and seemingly rather confusing, user interface. I envision a lot of my earliest interactions with Apple Watch being me testing out its capabilities, figuring out what needs it can and should meet for me, and generally playing with the device.

What I'm really looking forward to is the period in time a few months down the line when Apple Watch is just part of my workflow. It will make the tasks in my life easier that I need with the rest of the functionality being a bonus, perhaps useful for someone else. It's not so far from an iPhone or iPad in that respect — those devices are incredibly capable and I only use them for a minute portion of what they can do based on my particular use case. And that's fine.


  1. Instead of the non-functional software loop present at September's unveiling.  ↩

  2. I think it's telling that Apple Watch Edition is only going to be available in select Apple Stores as well as pricey department stores like London's Selfridges. ↩

  3. It seems I'm not the only one that thought of this parallel to the original iPhone launch. ↩

  1. Instead of the non-functional software loop present at September's unveiling.  ↩

  2. I think it's telling that Apple Watch Edition is only going to be available in select Apple Stores as well as pricey department stores like London's Selfridges. ↩

  3. It seems I'm not the only one that thought of this parallel to the original iPhone launch. ↩