The Verge has a good review of the Apple Watch Series 2, but everything seems to be left over when you read the first line of that text:
Let’s call it what it is: a fitness tracker.
That’s almost exactly what the Apple Watch is. I would say it’s what it wants to be first, although it can be a lot more. What it matters is that Apple seems to have found what it needed to convince people to buy this device.
You should buy it because it can help you to be in better shape. That’s it. Other makers use that reasoning to sell their fitness trackers, but Apple can at last compete in similar terms with those products while adding all the other neat options the Apple watch gives their users. Joanna Stern, by the way, has also expressed the idea in a fair way:
This Android Wear port is actually just an extension of the main Counter Strike port to Android shown last week. While you’re still going to be crammed for space compared to a real PC version, that version is at least more usable. And yes, that one supports multiplayer.
Nice gimmick. Now move on and try to get something running here that is really useful. That’s what smartwatches need: a defining purpose, not some fireworks to get a headline.
Comparing launches can deceive anyone. That’s what The Wall Street Journal has made speaking about the Apple Watch, which is supposed to have sold around 12-13m units on its first year.
The iPhone sold 6.1 million units in the 12 months after its launch in June 2007.
Both devices had clear limitations, and in fact the iPhone 3G was a clear advance but not that much in hardware: the App Store was the thing that changed that phone -and the rest of the market- forever.
With the Apple Watch, everyone is expecting a change as big as that one. Daisuke Wakabayashi writes about an important possibility in the future Apple Watch 2:
Apple is working on adding cell-network connectivity and a faster processor to its next-generation Watch, according to people familiar with the matter.
That would make the Apple Watch really autonomous, but will be that enough? Other smartwatches had that feature before and sales and functionalities haven’t been really convincing. At least, not according to sales figures. Samsung Gear S was a good example of this, and the Gear S2 has a version with an embedded SIM (eSIM) as well, although it’s not available yet.
It would be interesting to see if that autonomy can push smartwatches forward, something that I suspect will have to do much more with software (again) that with hardware. The smartwatch can certainly be more useful with that kind of option, but the smartphone is clearly the perfect fit for the world as it’s designed today.
NPD estimates that nearly 33 million fitness trackers were out there in the wild by the end of the fourth quarter of 2015 (though, not necessarily being worn —see earlier point), compared with 13 million smartwatches. And Fitbit still holds a whopping share of the activity tracking market, accounting for 79 percent of sales.
I made the same mistake twice. I thought tablets would kill the e-reader -wrong- and I thought that smartwatches would kill the fitbit and other similar wearables.
On that early thoughts, I assumed that e-readers didn’t deliver anything special to the reading experience. They did, of course: easier on the eyes, free-distraction reading and an everlasting battery were arguments too important to dismiss.
The same has happened with wearables: they have become something nice to wear on, they provide simplicity and don’t overcomplicate the product, and again, they’ve got near everlasting batteries -at least, compared to smartwatches-.
Hopefully I won’t make the same mistake again. A device that does something but also a lot of other things isn’t necessarily better. In fact, most of the times the experience is worse when you were just looking for that something in the first place.
I’ve been writing about smartwatches since Pebble surprised us with a device that hinted at a revolution. As of now, smartwatches are the revolution that never was, but maybe they were just too early to the party. Maybe they’re waiting their moment.
Walt Mossberg talks about his experience with the Apple Watch on his last column at The Verge, and there are some interesting thoughts there. The first one: he wouln’t miss the device that much in case he lost it. The second: smartwatches aren’t smart enough. The third:
I don’t think the smartwatch needs one “killer app”, but I do believe it needs a capability more compelling than what’s out there so far. It needs to do something, all on its own, that’s useful, quick, secure and cool.
What I do think smartwatches need to do is to be able to work all by themselves. They need a declaration of independence from our smartphones.
On May’15 Mark Sullivan wrote his review of the Apple Watch, and he had something to say about the charging features of the device:
You can’t sleep with the Watch because you have to charge it every night. If Apple didn’t mean for you to be able to leave your Watch on while you’re sleeping, why did it include the alarm clock function?
With the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock, you can charge your Apple Watch in a flat position with its band open, or on its side. When docked on its side, your watch automatically goes into Nightstand mode, so you can also use it as your alarm clock.
Can’t you charge it in a flat position or on its side with the standard cable? It seems so. It seems the folks at Apple did read that review and had a good idea on how to sell a brand new accessory that makes you pay $79 dollars to get something you should get on the original package. Brilliant.
P.S.: There are other issues with the charging system. Dave Smith at Business Insider wrote about the charging cable:
Each Apple Watch comes with a 2-meter cable — I bought a 1-meter cable for the office — but both options are excessively long. Why not offer a fully retractable cable, where you can set the length yourself? Or better yet, why not a cute little charging cradle for each Apple Watch? This feels like a missed opportunity for Apple’s design geniuses.
There you go Apple. Two brand new ideas for accessories.
It’s nice to have a round version of the Pebble Time. The first, square version looks to me a little too much like a toy, but this definitely looks different, more serious.
The interface is the problem there. Once you look at it, it seems you’re playing a game. That’s not bad in itself, but it’s a little conflicting. I’d expect a future version with a new, more elegant visual appeareance as well.
The screen size is a little dissapointing too. Pebble Time uses a 1.25 inches (vs 1.37” – 1.56” Moto 360 2 depending of the version, or vs 1.2” Samsung Gear S2). Pebble hasn’t published specs for the new screen size on the Pebble Time Round, but it seems smaller than 1.25”, and there’s another problem: that big bezels. Too thick, with 5 possible designs (with and without numbering).
No big surprises in the Apple event this morning, with little to tell about the products besides what was told following the rumors. Few updates on the Apple Watch: the discourse was 50% about apps and 50% about straps. The money is currently on the latter (that’s pretty clear from that time devoted to design and fashion), but watchOS could really make a difference if apps really take advantage of certain features that give the Apple Watch independence from the phone.
The iPad Pro seems to be the swan song for Apple tablets: an iOSified version of the Surface Pro 3 that is too big to work as a tablet all the time and that in my opinion can not replace a Macbook Air or even a Macbook for productivity. It’s a cool product on paper, but I can’t understand what user would prefer that over a laptop for any serious productivity content -except drawing- or over a smaller tablet (or phablet) for mobile content consumption. I’m going to spend the same 5 seconds they’ve spent for the iPad mini 4 launch to say this: last year hardware at this year prices. Same (even worse) happened with the mini 3.
The Apple TV has had a solid upgrade, probably the most interesting of all. New interface, Siri integration, and above all, apps and games. Good evolution of a device that could really hit it off in the market. The touch panel on the remote seems interesting too. The best of the show.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are logical upgrades of last years models. We’ll have to see the camera, but also battery life (no data/specs on that). Force Touch 3D Touch seems a neat idea but we’ll see if it really delivers in real life. The starting 16 GB models are a joke for a device that can record 4K video and that will be used to capture and consume more and more data. iCloud doesn’t solve this (well, it does for Apple, you pay an extra).