Sep 232014

By Ethan Harmon

Apple had its annual “next big awesome waste of money” press conference earlier today, and of course, they revealed a brand new iPhone 5… er… 6! Yeah, that’s the one, 6. More or less the same ol’ stuff, except Apple pulled a surprise twist toward the end of the presentation: the Apple Watch. Yes, that’s right. Everything everyone loves about the iPhone and other Apple products will now be available in the form of a trendy watch.

Okay, okay. I know I’m being a little harsh on Apple, but hey, I’m not completely wrong here. They make decent products, and there are some incredible benefits to their iOS, but it’s just not for me. I’ve always felt the iPhone was lacking, and each iteration was just slightly better, or thinner, or whatever than the previous version. However, I was intrigued by the Apple Watch.

The smart watch is not something new. Samsung, LG and other companies have taken a crack at this before, although these watches were not what I call a “critical success.” What makes this watch so different? Well, first of all, it’s an Apple product, so it will be bought by enthusiasts and fans of the brand. And second… well, that’s a mystery. There is little information about the watch outside of some very vague technical specs. Essentially, the Apple Watch comes in three different versions: Apple Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition. Check out the image below for a better look:

A man standing in front of a screen showing three models of the Apple Watch

Figure 1. Apple Watch; Source: Alex Washburn/WIRED

Outside of looking better than its predecessors, the interfaces seems more refined than other smart watches. Those who wear the watch can simply flip through apps with their finger, zoom in and out for easy selection with the dial on the side, send vibrations by tapping the screen and, strangely, even feel someone else’s heartbeat via the watch. A poorly recorded demonstration can be found below.

Video: Apple Watch Demo

All of the “ooh” and “aah” aside, I keep asking myself the same question that popped into my head when the Pebble hit the market: Who is this for? Yes, it does look nice and it is a cool idea, but I just don’t see the practical use of this. Is there someone out there who would rather Tweet or surf Reddit via their watch instead of their phones? Wouldn’t this become more of a distraction than an actual beneficial piece of tech? I seriously cannot imagine I would sit in class or at home, and instead of using my phone – which has more memory, a larger screen and better battery life – I would look at my watch and start poking around. It just doesn’t seem very practical, and for a price of $350, not financially rewarding either.

Perhaps there is a practical way to incorporate a smart watch into an everyday routine. I don’t think the use of social media apps or text messaging is the right direction. As I think about useful ways to incorporate a smart watch, outside of 007 espionage, I seem to come up dry. Memos, calendar reminders, maybe even useful routes (either walking or diving) could be a good start, but it’s still outweighed by the practicality of a phone or GPS. A watch tells you the time and can become a fashionable accessory. Maybe this is not the route that needs to be taken to improve everyday technology (and it’s not an everyday accessory for many people).

I realize that as technology constantly and exponentially grows, we must in turn grow with it. Phones and computers are already an extension of our own selves. My phone is always with me when I need to Tweet, write down a comic book idea, send a picture or browse through Imgur. My computer is readily available when I need to actively search the web and write my comic scripts. But a watch? Again, I just don’t see the practical use for these. Maybe I’m just being biased and Apple Watch is the “next big thing” and will “explode my brain through my face,” but right now, I just don’t see it. I need to understand the actual value of owning a smart watch and how it will actually benefit me throughout the day. Until this happens, and something clicks and makes sense, I will not be investing time or money into one of these.

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