Showing posts with label SmartWatch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SmartWatch. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Apple Watch review: Hands-on




Well, it may not be called the iWatch, but Apple’s entry into the burgeoning wearable category – called simply “Watch” – has at last gone from rumour to reality. Unlike the many Android Wear smartwatches that have been standalone products with individual merits, such as the Moto 360’s “real” watch faces or the Samsung Gear Fit’s heart rate monitor, the break from the norm here is the sheer level of customisation offered, all in one go. Another similarity is the requirement to own an Apple phone, ideally the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus of course, and it's not clear how backwards compatible with older iPhones the Watch is.

Apple Watch: Features

With two different face sizes – 38mm and 42mm respectively – three separate collections – the entry-level Watch, the sweat-loving Watch Sport and the 18-carat-gold, bling-tastic Watch Edition – plus six different strap styles with three different fits all fighting for your attention, seeing all of them at once is a disorientating experience. Apple lined all 36 different types up in a central hub at the Cupertino reveal like a cross between Baselworld and The Usual Suspects.

Make no mistake, this will be a new range from the off when it launches early next year, not a one-off product. Whatever your choice of wear - plastic for fitness, leather for work, stainless steel for evening wear - Apple seems to have it covered. Indeed, the “Milanese loop” number is verging on smart jewellery, the design of the face as its own entity meaning you can mix and match. We can see the custom-obsessed money flying out of wallets already – the price being “from” $349 is key.

We grabbed a hands-on with the “Modern” buckle, a magnetised fixer connecting its blue, brushed leather strap. It linked easily and was a perfect fit as luck would have it without adjusting – good old predictable wrist widths. The first thing you notice is the 38mm watch’s body is surprisingly small and light, the Moto 360 – until now arguably the looker in the smartwatch department – seeming hulking and heavy by comparison. The sleek design also sits comfortably next to normal watches – it actually looked a bit like the Uniform Wares one we were wearing – with little style concession at all. This is unprecedented for a smartwatch.

Apple Watch: Display

The Flexible Retina sapphire-glass display is both clear and strong, if a bit of a fingerprint lover. However, while it is used as a touchscreen, the neat digital crown dial on the side keeps your fingers off and out of the way, the small screen not often obstructed, flicking through customisation options and zooms in and out, and also acting as a home button. It’s a really clever solution and very intuitive, allowing you to customise settings such as contextual info and colour schemes quickly.

Apple Watch: Performance 

Our hands-on involved a run-through some of the basic functionality – browsing the circular apps (you zoom in and out of them fluidly a la Google Earth), fitness monitoring (through the sensors on the reverse of the face), map finding, etc. The most impressive factor, though, was the consistent alerts, shunning loud beeps and flashing lights for a light throb to your wrist, be it for text messages, lap times or a reminder to get the shopping.

Apple Watch: Connectivity

Connectivity wise, there’s no ugly and impractical headphone ports, with all connections handled by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. We were sent hand-drawn messages wirelessly to our watch by a member of staff, the use of which were unclear of – for a product so stylish, drawing little pictures on it seems a bit Nintendo for us – but it certainly works. Charging is elegant, too, a circular MagSafe connecting to the entire bottom of the watch body, where the four sensors sit.

Apple Watch: Verdict 

Of course, this was a guided demo, and Apple was unsurprisingly keen to play up its style and connected credentials. We didn’t get much time to put the new S1 chip to the test, try Apple Pay or Siri (the latter is accessed via clicking the digital crown), see the extent to which it requires an iPhone to function (which we were told it does), or, of course, test the battery life, which Tim Cook and co stayed very quiet on indeed. The sheer lightness of the watch makes us wonder just how much stamina it’s packing, but we shall see. The headline news is this is a really good looking smartwatch that you could conceivably buy just as a watch, and that, for us, is a first. Whether smartwatches in general are a category that can prove useful enough to snare the masses, though, we're still unsure.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Misfit's wearable Flash tracks your moves and sleep habits for $49

Remember the Misfit Shine? It was yet another in a long line of crowdfunded wearables that won some points for its uber-clean looks and its activity tracking skills (not to mention the Klingon instructions on the box). $99 may have been a bit much to ask in exchange for an intelligent coin that lives on your wrist though, which is why the Misfit team just pulled back the curtain on a $49 version called the Misfit Flash. It packs the same sort of functionality as its more expensive brother -- it tracks your sleep motion, steps and tough-to-measure activities like swimming and cycling -- into a body that's a little less rugged than the original.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Apple launches the Apple Watch

Apple's CEO Tim Cook has just announced a brand new addition to the firm's product line-up - the Apple Watch - at an exclusive Cupertino launch event. Check our Apple Watch review: Hands-on here.
"Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iphone and iPad," says Cook.
"And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people's lives. It's the most personal product we've ever made."
Cook says it's designed to work 'seamlessly withiPhone', meaning it won't be marketed as a standalone product like the Samsung Gear S, and will require an iPhone to use.
There’s also a watch crown embedded on the side of the device, which will allow wearers to operate the watch digitally, through a historically analogue input. The crown is also the home button.
The watch's apps will be laid out in a honeycomb pattern, which you can re-arrange. One of the apps featured will be customisable watch faces.
Honeycomb app interface
One face will be the 'astronomy face', which lets you do funky things like rotate the moon based on the date, and view the entire solar system including accurate planetary positioning.
Jony Ive, Apple's President of Design, says the apps 'all take advantage of the flexible retina display," and reveals the screen will be made from sapphire glass.
He also explained the the watch would offer haptic feedback, and a pressure sensitive screen that would impact user interaction depending on how hard you 'tap' or 'press'.
"Smart replies and dictation lets you quickly reply to messages," boasts Ive, commenting on microphone functionality.
The microphone is also set to work with Siri - yup, Siri on your wrist. CIA style. We likey.
You're spoiled for choice, really...
You'll be able to use the touch-screen to send animated emojis, which you can edit by dragging the face around - sort of like the Super Mario 64 start screen.
There's also built-in sensors, including a heart rate monitor (you can mail your mates your pulse rate - no joke), accelerometer, GPS, and gyroscope. The watch can also sense when you've raised your wrist, which activates the screen.
Wrist-raising will let you answer notifications - Apple says alerts will come through as vibrations that shouldn't even be noticeable by people right next to you.
The sensors will be mostly used for the health features of the watch, which Tim Cook touts as 'all day fitness' functionality.
Become a muscle-bound Greco-Roman God with the new iWatch fitness features...
It'll do the expected fitness fare like calorie tracking, goal-setting, distance logging, run-timing, and weight-measuring.
You'll also be able to control music through the watch, with Apple opting for Coldplay in its keynote example.
Apple Maps will be ship with the watch, which will offer the usual functionality like directions and location searching for things like shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels.
You'll also get the 'taptic' feedback that will guide you via directional vibrations, so you don't actually need to look at the screen to get somewhere.
Interestingly, Apple’s decided to shy away from lightning connectors or ports, with the device instead charging up its juice-box wirelessly.
Speaking of connectivity, Apple promises its Apple Watch will also work with Apple Pay, meaning you can make contactless payments courtesy of your wristwear. Nifty.
The Apple Watch was revealed to be customisable, and will ship with plenty of different coloured strap options.
Chic. Just the thing to wow all the fashionistas Apple invited to its ritzy Cupertino do...
The Apple Watch will ship as three different collections: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.
The release date is set for early 2015, and will start at $359, which equates to around £225 sterling. That puts it priced at well above competitor offerings.


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