Apple Watch Hands-On Gives Up More Details

Apple / Mobile / Tech / Wearables
apple watch featured

Two days – thats it. Two days until Apple finally reveals the Apple Watch to the world. Apple’s watch had been rumored since before its brief appearance at the 2014 iPhone event. At the “Spring Forward” event on March 9th Apple will take the stage and put to rest all of the questions we have. Some of those questions have already been answered by several sources, giving details of the device, a sort of Apple Watch hands-on for those Apple deems worthy.

Speaking to 9to5Mac several sources have offered masses of new details on the Apple Watch – including battery life, the features that are still present, and, more importantly, what it’s like to use. They have all been given special hands on to the shipping model of the watch, one that’s different from some of the leaked images and other hands-on experiences.

Usage and Battery Life

apple watch chargingYou can shout and jump up and down all you like about what a piece of tech can do, but if its battery won’t allow you to use it long enough, then it’s game over. The concern for many is that the Apple Watch battery won’t make it through a whole day.

Apple have previously said the watch will need charging nightly, something they wanted to avoid. But, much like the first iteration of Android wear, nightly smartwatch charging is almost accepted now. However, charging through the day is just not going to cut it. Previous hints have pointed to somewhere between 2.5-4 hours of heavy usage, and around 19 hours of combined use.

Those that have handled the production device say this has been boosted to around 5 hours of heavy app usage. It will still need to be charged nightly, but it WILL last through a long day of use. They’ve also added in a power saving mode to the device for those days that just go on and on as first reported by the New York Times.

This “Power Reserve Mode” can be activated by the user or set to activate at predetermined battery levels. This cuts out all unnecessary services, much like features added into modern Android handsets, allowing a bit more juice to be squeezed from those tiny cells. Sources indicate that with“Power Reserve Mode” activated, it dims the screen during use, turns the screen off during inactivity and slows communication.

There are conflicting reports on the level of services available whilst using this mode. Some report only access to the watch face, while others report normal usage. However, if the battery does eventually get the better of you, it will take around 4 hours to charge to 100% through the wall charger.

Notifications And Features

apple-watch-crown2So what can we actually do with Apple’s fancy new watch? Sources speaking to 9to5mac have detailed that the watch mirrors much of the phone’s use. Heart rate, battery stats, fitness stats, clock, weather, music, calendar and maps are all installed on the watch by default. There is also a full notification centre accessed through the usual swipe down gesture from the top of the watch face.

There is no information about the level of applications that will be available to install when the watch eventually hits shelves. However, developers will be able to determine how much information is passed to the watch, stipulating which notifications show up in the notification centre along with a customised watch icon. Notifications are passed through to the watch only when the phone is locked. With the screen on there is no alert.

Clock faces will be a huge business and selling point for the watch, something Google underestimated with its Android Wear platform. Sources speaking to 9to5mac have given a hint at the types of faces we are likely to see. Each face is described as being like an app in itself, however there are no third party faces – yet. Eventually, users will be able to customise their hearts out as “the level of detail and customisation is insane.” That remains to be seen.

One thing that was detailed, which is yet unannounced, is the heart rate glance feature. This will allow the user to see their beats per minute at any time; however, recording over time is unknown. Users still have to tap the heart outline to start a recording, but the reading is almost instant and accurate thanks to the new sensors. It is believed that this info can be transferred to the health app on the iPhone for graphing and interpretation later.

Companion App

All communication to the watch is done through a companion app on the iPhone, communicating over low energy Bluetooth which has shown no significant drain to the iPhone battery. The icon has already been leaked through twitter -see below

This app is all-encompassing, allowing management of individual app settings on the phone, management of the onboard storage and even allowing for icons to be rearranged. When downloading an app with a watch component this is automatically installed. You can uninstall the watch part without hindering the iPhone app, but the need to do so would be dependent on the level of storage available to the user.

Test devices all featured 8gb of storage, however this could have been reduced as details are strangely missing. With music and app storage, 8gb may be the minimum needed. Storage is further hindered by the watch also cacheing data and allowing third party app usage while not connected to the phone, however the level or time frame will depend on the amount of data stored.

apple watch companion

Images from 9to5mac


apple-watch-crownIt might sound like something out of Star Wars, but every source has praised the force touch features of the Apple Watch. They say interaction feels natural and aids the small screen size, adding “the screen feels like a giant button that you just want to press in the manner needed for Force Touch.”

There is no keyboard on the device and all interaction is either touch, voice or using the second most controversial feature, the “digital crown.” This allows for zooming and scrolling as there is no pinch to zoom on such a small screen. All replies are done through “voice control,” however, this is not supported for replying to emails.

Pulling your phone out will allow you to jump right to the email in question by unlocking the screen. The Apple Watch will also support data transfer through bluetooth and supporting NFC payments through Apple pay.

Specs And Usage

The watch uses a new S1 chip designed by Apple, which is on par with the A5 chip used in the iPod touch. The interface and interaction is said to be very fast overall, however, it can become sluggish when reaching around 200 watch apps, far beyond what most people install.

It’s unclear of any specification of the screen used on the Apple Watch, however a designer has been credited with saying the “screen is the best [smartwatch] screen I have ever seen.” The designer went on to say the screen is “like vibrant digital paper.” The screen is vibrant and shows great black levels.


Unfortunately this is the final piece of the pie, said to start at $349 for the sport watch. It remains to be seen how much the other levels will be. With prices for the ‘edition’ level rumored to be anywhere between $5,000 – $20,000, it could be an expensive product. We will be watching with baited breath.

Hurry up Monday!

  Source: 9to5mac
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