Apple Watch Key Features Explained

September 13, 2014

Apple Watch Key Features

The Apple Watch wasn’t that of a big surprise, at least for those who follow Apple rumor websites and any mobile related news websites. No that its here and we are looking at it, it is what you expected from Apple or are you disappointed?

There are many different opinions on the web, those who tried it at the press event and those who followed it online and view the specs and press coverage. Some people really liked it, others prepared a long list of what’s missing.  I do expect the Smartwatch market to grow after Apple releases its own smartwatch model. Apple was already late entering the wearable tech market, and it had plenty of time to learn it and prepare for it. From what we’ve heard from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., they have been working on the Apple Watch for a long time now.

Apple Watch in a Competitive Market

The Apple Watch, which included three different models: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition, enters a competitive market, which doesn’t gracefully put the Apple Watch in the leading position straight away. The market is flooded with plenty of smart-watches to choose from, including those of the leading mobile developers. For example, Samsung released the Gear, Gear 2, Gear Neo,  Gear Fit and Gear Live to accompany its Galaxy devices, Motorola released the Moto 360, LG released the LG G Watch and we have a long list of 3rd party manufactures, including the popular Pebble smartwatch for iPhone and Android.

Some other smartwatches are standalone products, which means that they don’t rely on an external device to function, and can even make phone calls without relying on your phone’s telecommunication company and have a built-in SIM to make and receive phone calls. The Apple Watch on the other hand, relies on an iPhone device to function, so if you want to enjoy Apple’s latest innovation, you’ll have to also own or buy an iPhone, which needs to be an iPhone 5 or a newer model with iOS 8 operating system. That said, the Apple Watch does have a built-in speaker and microphone for voice conversation, but again, it uses your iPhone’s  SIM’s telecommunication network and Wireless connectivity.

This by itself is not a deal-breaker, but the Apple Watch has a few disadvantages that we cannot ignore, and I’ll mentions those later on.

Apple Watch First Impressions

The Apple Watch looks gorgeous in my opinion, at least in the presentation. I know that it’s a 3D rendered animation, but still it looks awesome to look at and reflects the overall design path that Apple has chosen for its other mobile devices. On the positive side, the Apple Watch is highly customizable, comes in three different models:

  • Apple Watch – Sapphire Crystal, available in either Stainless steel or black stainless steel cases, stylish bands
  • Apple Watch Sport – Ion-X glass, available in Space gray or silver Anodized aluminum cases and durable bands that are resistant to sweat and chemicals
  • Apple Watch Edition – Sapphire Crystal, available in 18-Karat gold cases in either yellow or rose tint, prestige looking bands

It looks like the Apple Watch Edition was designed to appeal to women, although Apple hasn’t stated that, I did see a part of the Apple Watch commercial where a man is wearing the Watch Edition. Of course everyone will buy the watch that looks the best for him or her and fits its preferred style best.

Furthermore, the Apple Watch comes in two different size cases: 38mm and 42mm (signifies the height of the watch’s body), with the 42mm obviously being the bigger of the two. So those of you who prefer wearing a smaller watch with a smaller wristband, the 38mm should be your preferred choice.

Apple Watch (42mm), Apple Watch Sport (42mm) and Apple Watch Edition (38mm)

Apple Watch (42mm), Apple Watch Sport (42mm) and Apple Watch Edition (38mm)

The case sizes are available for all three models.

Many people were concerned with the thickness of the upcoming Apple Watch (dubbed ‘iWatch’ by the community prior to the announcement). So how ‘fat’ the Apple Watch really is? — well, it’s not slim as some people might hope for. I can understand that it’s impossible or it’s very expensive to put all this tech into a very slim profile. So it’s

The Apple Watch looks beautiful in my opinion, with curved glass, super smooth meta case that beautifully compliment that stylish band. Each watch is unique, allowing you to find the look that fits your style best.  The Apple Watch is being offered in three different type of collections as we mentioned above, six different finishes (Stainless Steel, Space Black Stainless Steel, Space Gray Aluminum, Silver Aluminum, 18-Karat Yellow Gold and 18-Karat Rose Gold) and 18 different bands  (6 different band types: Lice Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle and Milanese Loop).  Each watch comes with a variety of different watch faces, and most of them you can customize their appearance and choose the one that looks best for you.

Each of the the type of the Watch collections has been given a unique page on that describes it in more details, each one is unique in its own way and should appeal to different audiences.

Apple Watch Buttons Layout  and Interaction

The Watch has a rotating crown that Apple calls the “Digital Crown”, which serves as an input device which you can rotate and press to interact with the user-interface. Actions like zoom in/out and scrolling through selection option, all can be done without obstructing your view of the screen.  When pressed, the digital crown can also server as a shortcut to get to the home screen, depends on the context of the user interface interaction. The other button below the crown is used to launch the contacts page. While viewing your friends as circular masked image, you can zoom in using the digital crown up to a single contact. This button is also used to confirm a payment using Apple Pay by double clicking the button and holding the watch in front of the Apple Pay reader. The Taptic Engine will then send a feedback that the payment information was sent and processed.

The combination of a an advanced pressure sensing thouchscreen and the side buttons allow you to quickly, easily and precisely interact with your apps’ UI elements.

Inside the contact’s page, you can press a particular contact image to interact with with that friends. The Apple Watch now shows a black/blank screen with a circular colored light lit at the top (signifies the drawing pen color). Now you can start drawing something. If you stop sketching, the watch recognizes that you finished drawing, beautifully fades the sketch  out and that digital sketch  is sent to your friend’s Apple Watch. You can also use the contacts to send messages and  initiate a phone call.

Another cool features is the option to send your heartbeat to your friend. To do that, you have to hold your two fingers against the screen for a few seconds, then the your heartbeat animation is shown on the screen and shared with your friend.  Another option is tapping on the screen which causes the Taptic Engine on your friends’ Apple Watch to tap on his wrist. You can use it to interact in a discreet way with each other. For example, you are going on a dual date you and your friend. You want to tell your friend that you like the person he or she is dating, so you tap once, if you don’t like he or she, you double tap — useful, isn’t it. Keep in mind that this interaction is only available if the other person has an Apple Watch as well.

The Apple Watch also has lots of customizable watch faces. You can choose the watch face that looks best for you and even add data to be displayed to various watch faces, like stock quotes, sunset time, weather updates and so on.

Apple Watch as a Fitness Device

health care shieldWhat’s in my opinion one of the most interesting features is the ability to use the Apple Watch (not just the Apple Watch Sport) as a fitness activity monitoring device.  Apple made it very easy to track and visually see  and understand your progress and how active you are.  Your daily activity is displayed using three colorful rings. The inner blue signifies how much time you took a break from sitting without any movement, the middle green shows how much you’ve been exercising (in minutes) and the outer ring signifies how much calories you have burned. You can use this chat chart in order to keep track of your daily activities and reach your goals to stay fit.

The green middle ring will start filling up the moment you start walking (“Brisk Walk”, according to Apple) and anything more intense. According to Apple, it’s recommended to do at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. The ‘Stand’ ring encourages you to stand up after sitting down for a long period of time. The stand ring will close when the Apple Watch detects that you stood for at least one minutes in 12 different hours throughout the day.

Added to this is a built-in free workout app that shows you the calories burnt, distance and pace for each type of sports activity, like walking ,running, cycling, etc. It’s easy to keep track of all your activities, when you’ve done them and a detailed info about each one. This app suppose to motivate you to do more workout by suggesting your goals based on your workout history, helping you increase your fitness by elevating your goals. The app is also like a workout alarm clock that reminds you that it’s time to workout and how much your are on the way to complete your daily goals.

Upon completion of your goals you can earn ‘achievements’ badges that will boost your motivation, and hopefully encourage you to keep on doing your daily activities and become a healthier person. Unfortunately, non of the Apple Watch models is waterproof, which means that you can’t use it underwater, like when swimming for example, but it’s water-resistant to some degree. It’ll withstand sweat and rain, but you should remove it when showering, washing your hands or before swimming.

The Fitness app also shows you your progress over time on your iPhone. For each day you can see the progress using the three rings, and by tapping on each one you can see more details and also view your achievements by clicking the ‘Achievements’ icon at the bottom of the screen. Apple also allows developers to access the daily activities in order to use the data in 3rd party apps and share it with others (with your permission of course). This opens up a path to many innovative fitness apps that will take advantage of the basic data collected using the Apple Watch that you wear on your wrist throughout the day.

I think that many people will find that the Apple Watch is better motivating them to keep up with the recommended daily activities to improve their health. I’m sure that future 3rd party helps will certainly improve upon the built-in fitness help with more unique features.

Apple Watch Built-in Apps

The Apple Watch comes with many built-in apps, so you can start enjoying your watch on day one. Among those apps are: a Calendar app, Maps, Passbook, Music, Apple TV and iTunes, Remote Camera, Stopwatch, Timer, Alarm, World Clock, Stocks, Weather, Photos, Siri and Settings.

Apple already showcased some of the third-party apps for the Apple Watch, and you can expect many more to be launched when the Apple Watch is released in early 2015.

FAQ (Unofficial)

Q: Can you make phone calls using the Apple Watch?
A: Yes you can, but the Apple Watch relies on the iPhone smartphone to make and receive phone calls (iPhone 5 and up), it’s not an independent device and doesn’t have a SIM card slot.

Q: Does the Apple Watch has a built-in Camera?
A: No. The Apple Watch doesn’t come with a built-in camera. You do have the option to use the Apple Watch  as a remove viewfinder and see what the iPhone sees using the ‘Remote Camera’ app. Get a live preview of the iSight camera of your iPhone and snap a photo in one click.

Q: What are “Glances” on the Apple Watch?
A: Glances is a kind of a widget functionality opened up for any apps developed with WatchKit to showcase data from the app when the user making a swipe-up gesture when on the watch face screen. You can swipe left to go thought all the available glances like calendar notification, music controls, incoming messages, important alerts from apps, etc.

Q: Does the Apple Watch has a built-in speaker?
A: Yes, the Apple Watch has a speaker which is used for making phone calls and to alert you of incoming notifications.

Q: Does the Apple Watch has a built-in microphone?
A: Yes it does.

Q: Does the Apple Watch has a built-in GPS?
A: No, it relies on your iPhone’s built-in GPS receiver.

Q: What type of sensors the Apple Watch has?
A:  At the back your have four sensors, two infrared and the other two are for light measurement used for the Heart rate monitoring. There is also an accelerometer.  Using those sensors, the Watch detects when the watch is removed from your hand, so it can automatically lock your screen without you needing to do anything. Upon locking the screen, the user will have to provide the access code in order to use the payment system. Like in the iPhone, it’s a way to make sure that no other person make use of your iTunes account or Apple Payment in order to make purchases online or offline.

Q: How long does it take to charge the Apple Watch completely from zero?
A:  No official answer for this yet. Tough Apple designed the Apple Watch to be charged nightly.

Q: How long can I use the Apple Watch on a single charge?
A:  No official statement as for the time of writing. According to some online source, the Apple Watch should last about a day on a single charge. This of course may vary depends on the specific usage for each user.

Q: Does the Apple Watch has a replaceable battery?
A:  Didn’t find an official answer. But  we can certainly assume that it does not features a replaceable/removable battery.

Q: Does Apple Watch has a built-in keyboard for typing text?
A:  No. You use either Siri (same as the iPhone in terms of functionality. Press the digital crown when on the home screen to activate) or Apple’s emoji (emoticons). Just imagine trying to type on such a tiny keyboard, innovation certainly needed here, don’t you think? (although there are other smartphones with a built-in keyboard and the Flesky keyboard app is available for the Samsung Gear)/ Apple is behind the competition in that regard.

Q: What is the Apple Watch size?
A:  Check my answer here.

Q: What is the Apple Watch screen size?
A: Check my answer here.



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