The latest Apple product has hit the streets and the reviews are already pouring in. The Apple Watch is out and techies everywhere are wearing them.
Starting at $349 and climbing all the way up to $24,000, the Apple Watch comes in 38 flavors including different case materials, colors, sizes and changeable watch bands. Like most other smartwatches, the Apple Watch isn’t a standalone device — it’s a phone accessory. Android Wear, Samsung Gear, Pebble and others work the same way. But with an Apple Watch, you must own an iPhone 5 or later to use it.
A few Apple Watch functions work away from the phone, but the watch primarily works alongside the phone as an extension, a second screen and basically another part of your iOS experience.
Communication, fitness, information and time are the core Apple Watch functions, but the Watch is packed with many features and apps. Using it is very similar to having an iPhone on your wrist. You can read emails, call Siri and receive phone calls. It has a fitness tracker that keeps tabs on the number of steps walked, calories burned and monitors your heart rate. It also has a pressure-sensitive force touchscreen and a speaker and a microphone.
Apple Watch receives messages from friends, send texts and lets you dictate messages, make speakerphone calls, ping people with animated emoji, give love taps long-distance or send your heartbeat as a sort of long-distance hug. It tracks your steps, logs runs and monitors your heart rate. You can use Apple Watch to listen to music via wireless Bluetooth headphones. You can play songs like an iPod, get notifications and run apps like a mini iPhone and make payments with Apple Pay. And it has a totally new force-sensitive display that’s never been seen before. And yes, it tells the time.
More importantly is what it doesn’t do that your iPhone can. You can’t watch YouTube videos on the tiny display or scan Facebook posts. And, this is the big one–it only holds a charge for about 18 hours. Setup of the watch is fairly seamless. When booted up iPhone’s Watch app, which came with iOS 8.2, asks you to take a photo of your new Apple Watch. That’s it. You can disable notifications for specific apps and just about every setting can be mirrored from the iPhone or be set up individually. This includes Do Not Disturb to messages notifications.
A number of essential third-party apps are missing including Facebook, Google Maps and the iOS Gmail app. Facebook notifications do pop up on the watch, as do email snippets from Gmail but reading the full email requires an iPhone.
One of the more enjoyable enhancements of the iWatch are their faces. Many are both clever and useful. A solar cycle face shows actual sunset and sunrise times, there is a planetary face showing the earth and moon but lit to reflect night, day or lunar cycles. This also shows all the planets in their current alignment. There is also Mickey Mouse.
The faces are customizable. You can add numbers, change colors, see battery life, calendar appointments, daily fitness and more at a glance.
There are several ways to see your notifications. You can swipe down and look at all of them or delete them. You can also just get glances and tap to see more. Most apps work with glances but not all. Battery life, weather, music control, basic airplane mode, quick headline news, etc.
One of the great things about the Apple Watch’s notifications is that you can individually manage them just like on your iPhone. Siri works hands-free or by holding down the digital crown. Voice recognition is surprisingly quick and pretty useful.
Apple has offered a strange spectrum of ways to communicate: a clever friend wheel, which pops up when you click the flat button on the Apple Watch’s side, stores favorites. You can dial up someone, literally, and then text, call via speakerphone or headphones, and send a variety of “digital touch” messages if that person also has an Apple Watch.
Sending messages via the Apple Watch can be accomplished by dictating texts, much like sending a message via Google’s Android Wear or by sending actual recorded audio messages.There are no onscreen keyboards, but Apple supplies canned responses you can pick and customize, like “be home soon.”
Like Android Wear watches or the Samsung Gear watches, Apple Watch can store music: up to 2GB in the form of synced playlists. The watch can also act as a music remote for your phone’s stored music, but syncing a playlist via the iPhone’s Apple Watch app pulls that music onto the watch fairly easily. You don’t need iTunes or a Mac, and while it would be nice to also drag albums, playlists are easy to create on the fly. You do need a set of Bluetooth headphones to enjoy this music: there’s no headphone jack. You could also set up Bluetooth speakers, or even use AirPlay.
To find out more about the Apple Watch, stop in at WynWay and ask George how he likes his. And, if you need help with any data devices like your phone or computer call us or stop by. We are open from 2:30 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.