First Look: The Apple Watch

Apple Watch
“The most personal device we’ve ever created.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Apple Watch is wedded to your iPhone for some key functions. But Apple created new ways of physically interacting with it and redesigned the iOS UI to create an intuitive, highly customizable experience and appearance for the device, which starts at $350. It also gives users a choice of two sizes, three materials (in different finishes), and a choice of bands in different styles and materials. All of these let you create a device that is uniquely, unmistakably your own. Here’s how they did it.

Apple Watch
Materials matter

There are three Watch “collections” – the basic one with a stainless steel body, in stainless or black, with a sapphire crystal display; “Sport” with anodized aluminum in silver or space gray, with Ion-X glass; and “Edition” in 18-karat yellow or rose gold, also with sapphire. Each has a corresponding array of bands. Apple emphasized materials and style to create a functional device that also works as fine jewelry.

Apple Watch
Time telling

Before anything, Apple Watch is a watch – a highly accurate and reliable timepiece. Pairing with your iPhone, it uses several technologies to keep time “within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard.” It automatically adjusts to the local time when you cross time zones.

Apple Watch
Controls

The Watch has two external controls: the “crown” or the knob traditionally used to wind a watch and set time, and a button right next to it. The display activates when you lift your wrist. Press the crown and your home screen displays. Turn it and you can navigate your apps. A swipe from the bottom can take you into notifications like messages and emails.

Apple Watch
Intimate sensors

The rear casing has four sapphire lenses with infrared and visible light LEDs along with photo sensors to detect your pulse rate. The information is linked with health and fitness apps and with the Health app on the iPhone. A linear actuator, dubbed a Taptic Engine, can create a tap on your wrist in response to a notification.

Apple Watch
Screen

Despite being sized for the wrist, the Watch has an Apple Retina display: the pixel density and contrast make numbers and text clear, and images and graphics sharp. On most models, it’s laminated to sapphire for scratch resistance.

Apple Watch
Tapping

Apple developed what it calls “force touch” a fancy term for tapping. A range of functions and tasks are done by tapping your fingertip on the Watch’s screen.