Apple Watch succeeds with straps, fails on tech

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Apple’s late arrival to the smartwatch party is difficult to fathom considering the lack of technological innovation that the Apple Watch displays. Sure it has a complete computer system hardwired into a single resin-coated module and inductive charging feature, but those alone are not likely to be selling points capable of turning the heads of customers not already inducted in the Apple mindset.

The watch’s ability to vibrate to announce a new message is grandly heralded as Haptic Feedback, which simply describes the same vibration you get when you type a message on your phone’s onscreen keyboard. This smacks of clutching desperately at straws.

The Apple Watch’s functions are also completely reliant on a data tether to an iPhone. This may be a design choice, but it is also certainly linked to Apple’s proprietary device infrastructure which is always keen to point out that owning just one more Apple device will improve your life immeasurably. Execs from Samsung, which has just released the world’s first 3G-connected smartwatch the Samsung Gear S, must have been sniggering the whole way through last night’s Apple presentation.

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While any new Apple product will sell in startling quantities, this frankly underwhelming release must surely test the limits of that brand devotion.

Where the Apple Watch succeeds is where Apple’s head of design, Chingford-born Jonathan Ive, has looked to the watch world, rather the technology world, for answers.

The three models in the Apple Watch collection each make use of a distinct material to suit their purpose; durable stainless steel for the Apple Watch, lightweight aluminium for the Apple Watch Sport and luxurious rose and yellow 18ct gold for the Apple Watch Edition. High quality materials suited to a specific purpose have been at the heart of how watches are pitched to customers for years and Apple has succeeded in mimicking this strategy with its watch. Maybe next year Tim Cook will be unveiling a titanium-based model aimed at amateur action men?

The design is also suitably utilitarian, not ugly just simple and easy to adapt for different purposes. The crown reminds everyone that Apple’s new baby aspires to be a watch; a fashionable, luxury item rather than a piece of disposable tech.

Ive also got the straps right and there are plenty of options. Milanese mesh, sealed with magnetic loop, is completely on-trend and it really suits the clean lines of the Apple Watch.

It will be interesting to see how many watch brands embrace the Apple Watch and design their own customised brand ‘faces’ for the tiny Retina display. Brands are always looking to attract the next generation of customer and this could be a neat way for mechanical brands to appeal to the digitally inclined.

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