Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Wearables: Fit For Business?

Apple Watch: A look at the hits and misses

Apple CEO Tim Cook called the Apple Watch the 'most personal device Apple has ever created.' Here's a look at the positives and negatives for Apple's latest category killer, which starts at $349.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the Apple Watch and outlined a device that appears to be well ahead of rival Android efforts.

It remains to be seen if the Apple Watch becomes the "most personal device Apple has ever created" or "redefines what people expect from a watch," but we'll find out in early 2015.

Here's a look at the scorecard for the Apple Watch, which has been billed as the company's next great category killer akin to the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The Apple Watch starts at $349 and comes in three different collections. 

Hits

  • Fashion: Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasized repeatedly that the Apple Watch is made to be worn and has multiple customizable features. In addition, the Apple Watch has bling, including a real gold version. The device has six different straps that can be easily swapped.
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  • Navigation: The Apple Watch uses a dial to navigate around in addition to a touch screen. The digital crown is used for selecting dates, sliding through lists and going to the home screen.

  • Innovation: Charging via Magsafe as well as a sensor lineup. The sensors detect pulse. Gyroscope and accelerometer, plus GPS and Wi-Fi from the iPhone. Digital Touch, a tap system similar to Morse Code, can deliver messages to contacts quickly.
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  • Profits: Apple's strap design is proprietary. Guess how Apple will make all of its money? Apple fans will buy multiple bands for sports, dress or whatever.
  • Apps: The Apple Watch already appears to have more of an app selection available than the Android rivals. Siri is a nice touch. A photo app makes the Apple Watch more like a "locket." The fitness features in the Apple Watch account for both activity throughout the day and real workouts.

  • Developers: Apple launched WatchKit, which allows developers to create apps, notification and other items. That move leverages Apple's ecosystem.

  • Partners: Apple lined up SPG as a partner to unlock hotel doors. BMW will show you where you left your car, and Honeywell and Nike connect you to home conditions as well as fitness goals.

  • Backward compatibility: The Apple Watch will work with the latest iPhones (obviously) as well as iPhone 5s and 5c.

  • Apple Pay: The Apple Watch will work with Apple Pay, the company's payment system that has lined up all the major banks and a bevy of retailers. The Apple Watch/Pay connection foreshadows a Disney MagicBand scenario at scale.

Misses

  • It tells time! Cook and designer Jony Ive kept coming back to how accurate the Apple Watch is. No other smartwatch player mentions how the device keeps time. That's probably a good move.

  • First generation: OK the Apple Watch certainly looks more refined than the Android watches being tossed out into the market, but it's still a first rev. I've called the device "a compelling beginning." Apple fans won't have any trouble buying a first-gen device. The rest of us may want to wait a bit.

  • Price: The watch starts at $349, but will go up depending on gold and features as well as proprietary bands of course.

  • Apple Watch needs an iPhone: Although Apple's customization of notifications and the ability to select what information is pushed to you is nice. The smartwatch still seems like it's trying to do too much similar to the Android devices. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch will need a phone for connectivity.
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  • Availability. The Apple Watch will be available in early 2015 much to the chagrin of Apple fans.

  • Battery life a mystery: Cook said that the Apple Watch can be charged every night, which implies a battery life of about 12 hours, but more detail will have to be coughed up before initial launch.

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