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Apple Watch: Not worth the time?

Posted: 11 Sep 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple Watch  smartwatch  wearable 

Editor's note: The Apple Watch is one of the long-awaited consumer electronics products this year, with many industry experts predicting that it would redefine the standards on smartwatch technology. EETimes Europe's Julien Happich weighs in on why the tech giant's new product is a waste of time.

There has been so much anticipation about an iWatch release, something that would revolutionise wearables the Apple way, only to see the Californian firm launch a smartphone-satellite watch missing the brand's iconic "i" pre-fix (from a geek's perspective, without an "i" attached to it, is it an Apple product?).

The Apple Watch, as they call it, requires an iPhone for Wi-Fi connectivity and GPS data, so it is clearly to be sold as a satellite to Apples own products, unlike Samsung's bulkier Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatch or many other Android-compatible connected watches such as the LG G Watch, the Moto 360, or the cheaper and less power-hungry Pebble (with a bi-stable e-Ink display instead of the light-emitting LCDs or OLEDs).

Regardless of its sleek design, at $349 the watch is not precisely cheap for a peripheral that'll need charging every night at best for if you wish to rely on the time it indicates (Apple remained elusive on battery life).

Considering that all of today's smartwatches require you to have a smartphone nearby (with a clock on it), they only act as secondary displays which need to be recharged about a thousand times more often than today's regular battery-operated watches or infinitely more than automatic movement watches that are wound by the wearer's motion.

When you spend over $300 in a watch, you would want something not only with good craftsmanship, but that gives you time with precision and elegance, unconditionally, that is without wasting your time charging it or tethering you to yet another power cord (even a wireless charger has to plug somewhere).

That is especially true when the smartwatch's market position flirts with the jewellery side, with a variety of materials to choose from, including a premium 18-karat gold version at an even higher price tag. So when Apple CEO Tim Cook says such a product will redefine what people expect from a watch, I look at mine, check the time (the only feature it has apart its fashion statement) and sigh, what a waste of time.

What an irony when the whole purpose of a wearing a smartwatch is the alleged productivity gains of not having to reach for your smartphone.

Sure you can't dismiss technology on the first clunky prototypes thrown at you, and the good point about all these competing smartwatch launches is that they tentatively shrink what we already know as smartphones (which themselves are shrunk computers).

So far, it is nearly as if these wearables were corded, but if someday such devices can run on energy harvesting, then we'll get something worth wearing casually.

- Julien Happich
  EE Times Europe





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