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The Apple Watch Vs… Everyone Else

The Apple Watch Vs… Everyone Else

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My first experience with a smartphone was my uncle’s Sony Ericsson. It was a handsome device with a pretty large resistive touchscreen, a flip-down numeric keypad, and a stylus. The interface was tiny and complicated, requiring precise presses with a stylus. It was thick and bulky and capable, if slightly impractical.

Then the iPhone came along. I, as a schoolboy, mocked it. But now its influence is hard to ignore – it completely revolutionised the mobile landscape. Capacitive touchscreens were now a thing. The industry slowly started to move away from focusing on specifications and started to care about user experience – those that didn’t are either dead or dying (think Nokia or Blackberry).

Apple did the same for tablet with the iPad, and had done the same before the iPhone with the iPod. So as smartwatches finally became a thing people waited with bated breath for Apple’s version. This is it. But is it the revelation the smartwatch market was waiting for?

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Android Wear is different, not the same.

Android Wear is different, not the same.

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Naturally with the release of Apple Watch upon us, you’d expect Android to ramp up their marketing. And they did just that in their latest cheeky commercial which was debuted at SXSW Interactive. Quick sidenote, before I start rambling. This ad was directed by Alexei Tylevich and produced by the gifted creatives over at Droga5.

Choreography was the dish of the day, as a host of talented artists danced away to the beat of Shamri’s On The Regular. Other than the dance moves, which I’ll never be able to do in my lifetime, the other important part was the diversity of the products. Not one watch was the same in terms of form factor or design amongst the host of aspects involved.

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Vector Luna and Meridian have an LCD Screen, 30 Day Battery Life

Vector Luna and Meridian have an LCD Screen, 30 Day Battery Life

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For all the things smartwatches say they can do they can’t seem to last even a quarter as long as even the cheapest $10 digital watch. Pebble’s been on a roll with its week-long battery life (and even longer, the Pebble Time Steel can last a full 10 days), but a new player in town’s looking to change that.

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The Pebble Time Steel Isn’t Just A Fancy Pebble Time

The Pebble Time Steel Isn’t Just A Fancy Pebble Time

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When you’re a tiny company and you’re the first to the market, how do you keep your product fresh and hyped before the big fish can eat you? Last year Pebble took its Pebble smartwatch, redesigned the exterior, made it smaller, and gave it more premium materials and metal and leather bands.

The world gushed.

It was a minor change but with one move Pebble was both targeting a whole new segment of the market and padding itself against the Google and Apple onslaught that was coming. Pebble’s now released version two of its smartwatch, the Pebble Time,  and with $18 million in Kickstarter funding its definitely holding its own against Android Wear and the Apple Watch. But then came the Pebble Time Steel. Is it just a redressed Pebble Time? No, not at all.

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Apple Announces New iPhones and the iWatch

Apple Announces New iPhones and the iWatch

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The iPhones

iPhone 6

Besides a completely new design the iPhone 6 gets a bum in screen-size, going from 4 inches to 4.7 inches and featuring a new “ion-strengthened” screen that curves over the edges.  The new design borrows heavily from Apple’s current iPad Air models with gently curved sides and an ultra-thin, 6.9mm frame. As with all phones these days, the power button’s been moved to the side for improved ergonomics.

The specs are as follows:

  • 1334×750 “Retina HD” display with a pixel density of 326ppi
  • A8 64-bit processor, and the M8 motion co-processor for improved motion tracking
  • 8MP camera with a new sensor and larger pixels
  • f2.2 lens with dual-LED flash
  • Digital image stabilisation
  • 1080p video at 30 or 60fps, and a slow motion mode capable of 120 or 240fps (undisclosed resolution).
  • LTE advanced
  • NFC with Apple Pay, a mobile wallet
  • TouchID

iPhone 6 Plus

And just as all those rumors said, Apple did launch a bigger iPhone.  And boy, they went all the way.  The iPhone 6 Plus as a massive 5.5″ display, putting it right up there with the Note 4 and other phablets. And did I mention it’s only 7.1mm thick?

The specs are as follows:

  • 1920×1080 “Retina HD” display with a pixel density of 414ppi
  • A8 64-bit processor, and the M8 motion co-processor for improved motion tracking
  • 8MP camera with a new sensor and larger pixels
  • f2.2 lens with dual-LED flash
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 1080p video at 30 or 60fps, and a slow motion mode capable of 120 or 240fps (undisclosed resolution).
  • LTE advanced
  • NFC with Apple Pay, a mobile wallet
  • TouchID

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The Apple Watch

Despite all the rumors nothing about this watch was leaked, and the product itself is impressive.  It’s not round, but features a square sapphire touchscreen display.  The front is void of any controls, but with pretty thich bezels.

Unlike any other smartwatch so far Apple has reinvented the crown.  Now called the digital crown, it seems to be primary mode of navigation, letting the user easily zoom in and out of Maps and scroll through lists with ease, without continuous (and messy) swiping. The screen can also distinguish between a tap and a press, adding another dimension to navigating the UI.  The watch allows allows voice input through integration with Siri, and has dedicated Maps and Photos apps. Fitness and Health apps also collect biometric data and fitness information, giving it an edge in the fitness tracker space. Finally, round the back, the watch has a heart rate sensor and custom inductive charging.

The watch comes in three finishes (silver, black, and gold) and come with 6 different straps with a custom mechanism for swapping them out.

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iOS

Reachability

Being able to reach every corner of the screen has always been a priority for Apple, and the iPhone 6 Plus’ massive display makes that pretty awkward.  Enter ‘reachability’: by touble-tapping the home button the entire screen will drop down, putting the furthest corners within reach.

Apple Pay

The biggest software reveal of the event, Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile wallet platform that could very possibly have the power to open the industry up to NFC payments.

Payments are done over NFC, with TouchID providing an extra layer of protection.  Credit cards are added by taking a photo of the card or by using credit cards on file with iTunes and your personal details are extremely abstracted from even Apple themselves, promising ultimate security.  If you lose your phone or if it gets stolen you can suspend the Apple Pay service on that device through Find My iPhone.

Widgets

As announced at WWDC, iOS 8 now has widgets that reside in the notification screen – but not on the homescreen.  One can respond to messages, bid on eBay, and more through the Notification Centre.

Siri

Besides integration with the Apple Watch, Siri is now always listening mode and can be activated with “Hey, Siri” in the same way Android users can activate Google Now by saying “Ok Google”.

TL;DR

Apple announced:

  • the iPhone 6 with an A8 chipset, 8MP camera, and 4.7″ display.  Only 6.9mm thick
  • the iPhone 6 Plus, their first phablet.  Has a 5.5″ display and shares many of its internals with the 6.  Only 7.1mm thick.
  • the Apple Watch, a square-faced smartwatch with a focus on fitness tracking and fitness
  • Apple Pay, a mobile wallet