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Apple Watch: maybe just a gadget, but a cool one

Like pretty much everyone else who likes tech gadgetry, I had my eyes on Apple’s recent “media event” showcasing the Apple Watch. CNET’s Scott Stein had a long and detailed review of it, which you can find heApple Watchre, and most of what I’ll cover in this post is based on what I read there. I’ve pulled out the key points (and/or what I was most interested in), so here goes.

The Apple Watch is a smartwatch, another entry into the wearable tech market. As a smartwatch, it promises to be pretty darned smart. It’ll play your music, track your fitness, send and receive messages, make payments (via Apple Pay), and operate the smart devices in your home (e.g., a Nest Thermastat). It communicates with your iPhone over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (the iPhone is the conduit to other smart devices and functions like GPS; and note: it won’t work with an Android phone, just an iPhone 5 and over). And, yes, as it tells time, you can actually use the Apple Watch as a watch.  The promised battery life is 18 hours, and the prices will range from $349 on up to a rather stratospheric $17K for a fully-loaded version in a 18-karat gold case. (I think I’ll take a pass on that one.)

I’ve grabbed a couple of paragraphs from Scott that offer more technical details:

“The watch runs on a brand-new S1 processor, is equipped with a gyro and accelerometer, and can piggyback on the Wi-Fi and GPS from your phone. You press down on the crown to get to the home screen. The watch will take dictation and offers very precise synchronized time to plus or minus 50 milliseconds. It also has a “Taptic” haptic processor that offers a subtle vibrational feedback for notifications, alarms and other messages, plus a force-sensitive touch display.”

“Like the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch has NFC. This will enable those Apple Pay payments and help it act as a door-opening key at hotels.”

Like everything else that Apple touches, there are bound to be tons of apps built for it, which will make it more interesting. But not interesting enough for me to spring for one. Even with all the applications, the Apple Watch is just a gadget, and the form factor is pretty limiting. Much of the heavy app lifting occurs on the iPhone, which you’re just as apt to have with you as you are the watch. So you don’t need the watch as an intermediary.

There is good one case that I can think of, however.

Now that the software is more mature (originally, it was a TI development kit for the MSP430), for the past few days, I’ve been putting my MetaWatch back on my wrist. For someone like me who keeps his phone in silent mode, it’s very handy to get a gentle vibration on the wrist when a call comes in. This keeps me from missing calls. Based on this little experiment, even though smart watches are just gadgets, I think it will be worth it to get an Android Wear watch when the next generation comes out.