Let me start by saying that I know nothing about Smart Watches. I have never worn one, I only know one person in the world that wears one (and his is the only one I have ever actually seen in the wild) and I have never really wanted one either.
As tragically nerdy as I can be sometimes.
That said I was looking forward to the iWatch (or Apple Watch as it turns out) with some level of anticipation. I thought that Apple might, as they’d done with the phone, the music player and the tablet, taken on an industry that had to date gone nowhere and made it sexy. Functional. Actually worth while having.
When the watch materialised on the screen during the September launch I was a little shocked. For starters I expected something round, a classic looking watch that looked right at home sitting next to a Tag Heuer or Fossil.
But it’s square! It’s thick! It actually looks like a smart watch! Plus it’s gaudy (or at least that’s what I used to think but more about that later)
So why would Apple make a square, nerdy looking device? They certainly didn’t rush the product?
As it turns out square is the optimum shape for input and it’s currently not possible to make a thin smart watch. As it turns out the tech industry is limited in the sameway when it comes to stuffing tech into a watch as manufacturers were in the 1970s when making digital watches. These facts make it easier to understand the design choices of all the other smartwatchs because they are all square, bulky and all breathtakingly ugly.
Actually the Moto360 is a round smartwatch and it actually looks good but recent reports have pointed out that it is limited in function and in performance.
Not being the kind of person to wear a smartwatch I am not concerned about how it would look on my wrist but rather on any wrist. I mentioned before that I thought it looked gaudy but after looking it again and comparing it to the others I have concluded that Apple have actually produced a beautiful product depending on the size and how it’s configured. I have seen some with the larger (closer to a rectangle than a square screen) with a gold bezel and a red leather strap. These are the most repulsive but I have been told they will certainly be popular in certain parts of the world. On the other hand, the smaller, space grey bezel with the metal strap is actually a passable time piece. Still not fit to sit next to a Tag – but close.
Other aspects of the keynote announcement – aside from the new iPhones – were very interesting and had far reaching implications.
The first was, undoubtedly, ApplePay.
I won’t go too far into ApplePay because it might be a while before we can use here but in short you will be able to pay for things by using your phone. Big deal (I hear you say), Android have been doing this for years. Well that’s true but the difference is that with ApplePay there is no credit card info stored on your phone but rather a token generated between you and the bank at the time of purchase. In short, more secure and very private. Nevertheless this has raised all kinds of questions about privacy.
The trouble with these kinds of arguments is they always paint every tech company with the same brush. When Apple or Microsoft say they have no interest in your personal data they mean it. Their business is not selling your buying habits, your search tendencies or your click fetishes to the highest bidder (I am looking at you google and Android) but rather to sell you services and stuff like phones and computers. As an interesting example of this – Facebook recent forced everyone (who uses FaceBook) to use their Messenger application. On the Android platform this app just raided the address book and calendar information without as much as a “by your leave.” This is in stark contrast to the iPhone app that slapped the Messenger app in the face and made it sit in the corner until you – the user – gave it permission to use your Contacts or Calendar information.
As I have said a hundred times. Anyone who has an Android phone should just mail their Passport and credit card info to the Russian mafia and get it over with.
The Second ‘incident’ and something of a contradiction for Apple was the free U2 album: Songs of Innocence. In something of a privacy violation in reverse, Apple downloaded U2’s latest album to every iTunes account whether you wanted it or not and lots of people were incensed by this because it seems even free gifts need to be agreed too. One journalist likened it to “a gift from an ageing relative that doesn’t know you very well” In the beginning I was a little put out because it was a terrible album – so bad in fact I wanted to cheese grate my face off – but then became miffed with a capital “WTF” when I realised it wasn’t easy to remove. Thankfully if you don’t want the U2 album it is now very easy to remove via this tool released by Apple a few days later.