How does Apple Watch stack up against its rivals?

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Watch Edition: £12,000 smartwatch is likely to be obsolete in a year.

It seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon – even Swiss watchmaker Swatch has promised to release a smartwatch in the next couple of months. Many had hoped that when CEO Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch Edition — the solid gold watch that is by far the most expensive product the company has ever made — he would demonstrate how the watch could be upgraded in years to come. The company did announce a luxury shopping experience: the watches will be sold in a limited run and only at select stores, so part of the price will be justified by the exclusivity. It turns out the Fresh Food People are indeed one of several Australian firms building apps for Apple Watch, but Woolies told us it was bound by a secret squirrel agreement not to spill details.

I’m writing this from San Francisco, where a frenzied horde has just got its hands on the Jony Ive-designed wrist-wonder for the first time, and the reaction is instructive. But it is clear from the features that some US supermarket chains, including the Indiana-based Marsh supermarkets, are incorporating into their apps that Watch has great potential for grocery shopping. The original Pebble was a bit easier on your pocket than its successor, the Pebble Steel, but the Steel looked a bit more like a watch you’d actually wear every day.

Apple went to great lengths in its launch event to show that the Watch’s cases had been built to last, showing long shots of metal being melted and cast, and demonstrating the virtues of “cold-forged” stainless steel. Announced at Mobile World Congress, the Pebble Time has a colour e-paper screen and a built in microphone so you can respond to notifications in apps. But while the cases may not age, the insides will — and Apple’s challenge could now be convincing people that the watch is worth buying, when it could easily be out of time by next year. The main advantage of the Pebble is that it’s compatible with both iOS and Android, so you aren’t stuck with one system due to your choice of smartwatch.

Compatible with Android phones that work with Bluetooth 4.1, Sony’s watch had the distinction of being the first Android Wear device to have GPS built in. The Edition range was largely drowned here at the San Francisco event, the initial feeling amongst pundits being that a gold smart watch was a contradiction on par with a jewelled toaster. Marsh Supermarkets, which developed its app with mobile marketing firm inMarket, will combine Apple Watch with Apple’s iBeacons technology that detects and talks to nearby watches, near field communication systems for payments and Bluetooth for communications. In fact, the Edition watch – in yellow or rose gold with a sapphire crystal face – is rather attractive, and at $14,000 to $24,000 will certainly be rather exclusive.

That gold incidentally has been specially treated by Apple, and is double the hardness of the usual amalgam; some say it may be offered with an enhanced back-up or Apple Care program. Details are to come, but meantime Apple see the opportunity to cater to people who’ve never held back when it comes to materials and craftsmanship, or the need for something that sets them apart from the crowd. This is a watch that looks good, does a lot, and even at $14,000 or even $24,000, lies in the middle ground compared to what you’ll pay for the latest in traditional watch wear.

Nick Maher, proprietary owner of TripView, which shows Sydney train, bus and ferry timetables in real time, has been working on an app that will use Apple Watch to display departure times of your train or bus.

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