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All About the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch hit the stores earlier this year but hasn’t yet taken off in the same way as the iPhone and iPad did. The buying public have so far been rather suspicious, wondering whether the Apple Watch is anything more than an expensive luxury when they already own an iPhone.

The OS 2 update due this autumn has tweaked a few issues and improved access to non-Apple apps but it remains to be seen whether the relatively high price (the cheapest model retails at just under £300) will continue to put iPhone users off.

What is the Apple Watch?
The Apple Watch is Apple’s response to smart watches on the Android platform such as the Samsung Gear S. It works in sync with your iPhone, giving you immediate access to the functions on your iPhone such as messages, email, calendar, music and maps as well as acting as a lifestyle watch and fitness monitor.

Why should you buy the Apple Watch?
The Apple Watch acts as a complement to your iPhone. Instead of digging around for your phone in your pocket or handbag to send a message, to answer a call, to check your location or to access your digital boarding card, a simple flick of the wrist and twiddle of the knob or crown will do the job for you more conveniently.

If you like to keep an eye on your physical activity and fitness, the Apple Watch has built-in apps which will monitor your movement and activity during the day, giving you information on everything from the number of steps you have taken to the amount of calories you have burned up.

What features does it have?
Apple has taken the screen icons, navigation and apps familiar to users of iPhones and iPads and adapted them so they work with the smaller screen. It has taken the clock face as the inspiration for many of the displays and uses the watch crown, used to wind up conventional watches and to set the clock hands, as its navigation tool to move between icons and displays and to zoom in and out.

Innovative technology known as Force Touch enables the watch display to tell the difference between a finger tap and a firm press. Using Force Touch, a firm press with your finger gives you access to a variety of different controls from those on the display screen.

The Apple Watch will alert you to new notifications in the same way as your iPhone, but much more discreetly. The Taptic Engine inside the watch will literally tap you on the wrist as an alert, as well as audio alerts if you want them.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple product without Siri. She comes into her own on the Apple Watch, with its tiny screen making typing text almost impossible. Instead, you can dictate messages to Siri or ask her questions.

You can even take short phone calls on the Apple Watch. The Watch will alert you when a call is coming through and if you choose to take it, you can either divert it to your iPhone or, if you know it’s going to be a quick call, answer it using your Watch’s microphone and speaker.

One handy feature relates to your iPhone camera. The Watch’s screen will act as a viewfinder for your camera – in other words, you can see on your wrist exactly what your iPhone camera can see. This is useful for taking selfies, for taking timed photographs or if someone else is taking a photo of you as you can ensure it’s the shot you want.

The Apple Watch has made physical fitness and activity monitoring a big feature. It uses sensors to measure your heart rate during physical activity and also uses the accelerometer and GPS to measure distance travelled while walking, running or cycling.

Apple says the battery has been made to last all day, provided there’s not constant and heavy use. If you wear it as a watch, the battery should last up to 48 hours. Continuous music playback or workout mode will drain the battery in around 6.5 hours. Apple has developed a nifty overnight charger which uses magnets to slot the connector into place making it easy to fumble in the dark at bedtime.

How has the Apple Watch been reviewed?
Reviews have been mixed with many commentators saying the high cost will deter potential customers, particularly as it’s only meant to complement the iPhone rather than replace it. Apple Watch wearers still need to carry their iPhone with them to use the Watch properly.

There have been criticisms that the display icons are too small for adult fingers to use precisely and that as the navigation system has been altered to cope with the smaller screen, it doesn’t come intuitively to committed Apple users.

Some commentators have dismissed the fitness and workout features as being unreliable and even overly generous! Apple acknowledges that heart rate monitoring, for example, doesn’t always work for a variety of reasons but points out that the watch can be synced with Bluetooth monitors such as chest straps.

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