- Written by Jeff Summers Jeff Summers
One of the newest markets that Apple has begun is referred to as the "wearable". This is technology that the user wears. Initially these types of devices were focused on fitness with brands such as Fit Bit and Garmin who catered to the active life style to count calories, distance, and other statistics for activities such as walking and running. Most saw this market as small and very specialized.
Rumors began in 2011 that Apple was potentially working on a product that fit into this market but no one including Apple insiders could understand where it might fit or even if there were enough people interested in this kind of technology to justify the high cost associated with entering the playing field. Initially the rumors were of a curved iPod that would fit on your wrist so that you could take your music with you during activities. It was not until a couple of years later that details began to emerge as to what the product was or how it was being positioned.
On September 9, 2014 during the press event launching the iPhone 6, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch. The press almost immediately questioned why Apple wanted to get into the watch market. The market seemed to be dwindling for time pieces you wore on your wrist. More and more people used their phones to tell time, a problem Apple helped create with the iPhone. But the Apple Watch was not just another way to find out what time it was. Rather this was a product that in many cases was hard to define. The watch required an iPhone to be tethered which many saw as a design flaw but also became the source of unlocking the device's potential,
Developers could create applications that provided data and feedback to your wrist. This opened things up to not just notifications but also new ways to consume information. You could send messages or answer phone calls without ever taking your phone out of your pocket. Not only that but the Apple Watch also allowed you to track your activity level, the amount of times you stood versus sat during a day, and track your heart beat. This latter piece now provided a more immediate way to keep up on your health that was not easy before. Suddenly your watch was looking out for your health and reminded you to be active or relax.
I have always had a watch, most times a chronograph or dive watch so what Apple was offering was extremely exciting. Always wanting to extend my digital reach I immediately bought one. I loved the simplicity of the design and was excited at the potential it had. Two things that held that item back for me was the fact that like the iPhone, the Apple Watch did not like water so replacing my dive watch was out of the question. The second was, even if the watch was waterproof (which it wasn't) I still had to carry my phone with me to get anything other than simply telling time. It was bad enough those times when I forgot my phone now my watch would remind me how forgetful I was. Despite these weaknesses, I loved my Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch came in three types. At the entry level was an aluminum Sport version. It was the Apple Watch collection or the middle tier I was interested in. It was made of Stainless Steel or Black Stainless Steel and included Sapphire Glass which is nearly indestructable. The upper tier was called the Apple Watch Edition with prices starting at $10,000 clearly out of my league for sure.
The Apple Watch was amazing and quickly became a new favorite tool that I relied upon daily. But Apple was not content to stop there. On September 16, 2016 Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 2. This new version contained GPS that would keep track of where you were when walking or running reducing the need to take yoour phone with you on runs. It would sync when you got back making it easier for those who didn't like carrying a phone while running. This in itself was a major feature that users had been asking for but that was not the best thing.
The Apple Watch Series 2 was now water resistant to 50 meters. That still did not make it a watch I could use when scuba diving but I no longer had to worry how wet it was getting. In fact, Apple designed the Series 2 to be worn while swimming and had exhaustively tested it in that environment. Apple engineers created a way to use the watch's speaker to push residual water out of the device after you are done swimming. This feature was extremely useful for me when I was trapped in Hurricane Irma in Orlando Florida. Throughout the ordeal my watch worked flawlessly.
In what has now become customary, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 3 during the fall press event this time coinciding with the announcement of the iPhone 8. The Series 3 has made a significant change and one that many have predicted was what was holding back the device. Although we should be clear, "holding back the device" is a relative term. In the three years since its introduction, the Apple Watch is now the best selling watch brand in the world. This version adds two important pieces for athletes. First is that the watch now includes both GPS and cellular meaning that you no longer have to have an iPhone to tether to the watch. The downside of this of course is that you now have to add your watch to your cellular plan. At introduction AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all announced a monthly charge of $10 to add the watch. This also means you can make phone calls from your watch without your phone being close but your watch and your phone share the same number. The second feature is that the Apple Watch Series 3 now includes an altimiter to measure elevation gain as well as mapping out your route using GPS.
The health features of the device also got a bump so it now monitors both heart rate and will soon be able to detect irregular heart beats thereby warning users of potential problems. The heart rate monitoring now includes not only current heart rate but will be able to track resting rate and recovery to see how well your body is managing various efforts. Finally Apple has integrated workout data with several fitness companies to collect information from machines at the gym and manage it within the workout app.
The market for the Apple Watch continues to grow and go in directions that many of us cannot even imagine. It is exciting to watch and even more thrilling to be involved with such an innovative product.