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Apple Wearables: The Apple Watch

Set your watch to be changed on April 24th when the highly anticipated Apple Watch finally hits stores.

Just when you had resigned yourself to Android Wear for your smartwatch needs, Apple is ready with wearable tech gear of their own. The Apple Watch is supported by iOS 8.2 and designed to sync magically with any one of your compatible Apple devices.

Apple Watch styles

With Apple Watch there are three distinct collections, each one a small line of different styles and designs. Prices vary depending on the collection and design, starting at $499 AUD and going as high as $24,000 AUD.

  • Watch collection. The Watch collection is the middle of the road in price, with watches made of stainless steel. Available in two sizes, you can choose a basic rubber band, ribbed leather or even space black links. The most basic is paired with the sport band and in the smaller 38mm size is $799 AUD. Or for $949 AUD you can get a classy stainless steel mesh band that has a convenient magnetic clasp.
  • Watch Sport collection. The sportier version of the Apple Watch is also the least expensive. The watch face is encased in silver aluminum, and each is accompanied by a sport band. The variety in the sport collection comes in the color of the band, which come in white, blue, green and pink with the silver casing, or a black band with a space gray watch casing. These retail for $499 or $579 AUD depending on the size.
  • Watch Edition collection. This makes up the elite Apple Watches encased in 18-karat gold and starting at $14,000 AUD for the 38mm with a black sport band. If you want to upgrade to the classic buckle expect to pay $21,000 AUD, while the elite of the elite is an extravagant $24,000 AUD.

There are a number of reasons behind the high price tag besides having the Apple name behind the watch. The components used to make them are of the highest quality and made to not only look fantastic but last. For example, on the sport watch Apple did not elect to pair it with a cheap rubber band. They are using fluoroelastomer bands, which have superior performance and lasting power compared to other synthetic rubbers.

You can clearly see that how the watch looks is just as important to Apple as how it functions, which is a smart approach when designing wearable gear.


The features of the Apple Watch

Besides being able to tell time with precision accuracy, the Apple Watch allows you access to your favourite iPhone apps, plus a few that are unique to the watch. The settings and apps are controlled through the iPhone companion app that is now a part of the new iOS 8.2. The built in apps that come with the new Apple Watch work at making it easy to manage the following right from your wrist:

  • Messaging. You are gently tapped on the wrist whenever a new message is sent to your mobile phone. You can read the message and respond with one that has been pre-set, dictate a unique reply, or even record an audio message to send back.
  • Phone calls. The Apple Watch has a built in speaker and microphone if you want to answer a call, or you can transfer it to your iPhone if you want more privacy. Dismissing a call for now is as easy as covering the watch face with your hand.
  • Email. Anything function you normally use with your email account can be done with the watch including reading, flagging, marking and moving messages. You can even open it and type a response.
  • Calendar. The advanced calendar lets you create appointments, and the watch will send you a reminder when it is pending. Calendar invitations can be accepted or you can send the organiser a preset response.
  • Activity. What you won’t find on a smartphone is an app that tracks your daily movements, watches your heart rate and tells you when you have been a couch potato for long enough.
  • Workout. The Apple Watch can show your real time stats as you run, walk or cycle. These stats include time, distance, calories, pace and speed.
  • Maps. Turn by turn navigation on your wrist gets you where you need to go without getting lost.
  • Passbook. For travellers the Passbook keeps all of your pertinent flight needs for you and will give you an alert when it is time to use boarding passes and tickets. This is also where you will choose the credit or debit to use for Apple Pay.
  • Siri. The always helpful Siri is also on the Apple Watch. Just ask her to open an app for you and it’s done.
  • Music. You can listen to your phone’s playlist from the watch using Bluetooth headphones.
  • Camera remote. Now you can see what your camera sees without having to use a mirror. The watch acts as a viewfinder, letting you be a part of the picture.
  • Remote. The Apple TV app lets you use the watch as a television remote.
  • Weather. Check your local weather for today or the forecast for the week. You can also ask Siri to tell you what the weather is like anywhere in the world.
  • Stocks. Easily track stock performance, current prices and percentage changes.
  • Photos. You can pull pictures up to the watch and zoom to one image or browse through them with a swipe.
  • Watch. This is still a watch and you can use it as an alarm, stopwatch, timer and world clock.

In addition, you can browse the Apple Store apps to add even more features to the phone. There are already over 40 different apps to personalise your Apple Watch, with more promised to come. In the meantime you can create your shopping list on the Target app and let your watch tell you where to find your items when in the store. Or be in constant contact with TripAdvisor on your next holiday and find the best places to eat, sleep and explore wherever you are in the world.

The battery life of the Apple Watch

Despite scary rumors of the Apple Watch’s battery only giving two and half hours of use, expect to get around 18. Yes, you will need to charge the watch every night, but that is not unusual, even with the smartwatches that are using Android Wear.

What is the digital crown?

Like a classic watch, the Apple Watch has a circular knob on its side known as a digital crown. Instead of using it to adjust the time, it replaces the pinch to zoom feature that you find on other Apple products, as that would be hard to pull off with such a small screen. Rotating the digital crown zooms in on the screen and lets your scroll through your settings easily.

Although priced higher than most of the other smartwatches that have been released recently, the Apple Watch with its non-tech look and high-tech features is going to give pause to people thinking about Android Wear. Before you make your final choice in a smartwatch, research the differences and similarities to ascertain which gives you all that you have envisioned for wearable tech gear.

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