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Apple Watch: A Me-too Release

Expectations have been high. Apple has changed and disrupted markets too often now for them to have been anything else. We looked at the Galaxy Gear when it arrived and said "Meh!" Apple will do it so much better when the iWatch arrives.

When Samsung launched the second generation of its Gear range, we said "Ooh!" because there were signs of progress and this was definitely starting to look like something we could consider wearing on our wrists. When the Gear Live launched we got positively enthusiastic. Wait until the iWatch arrives though, it will be a game changer.

Well the iWatch turns out to be a the Apple Watch and far from having the Swiss quaking in their boots it's far more likely to have the Koreans laughing up their sleeves.

The much vaunted design is clumsy. Over a year ago I wrote that Apple had delivered much of what it needed in the iPod Nano. From design terms I really wasn't expecting Apple to take things quite so literally. I know that looks are subjective, and having not had a chance to go hands on with the Apple Watch yet I'm basing this opinion off the publicity shots that Apple have released thus far, but based on what I see and my experience of the Gear range, Samsung have the lead in look and feel over Apple.

So what on earth has Jonny Ive been wittering on about?

The software on the Apple Watch is good, but haven't they gone overboard on the gimmicks? If I want to know the phases of the moon, there's this large thing in the sky that I can use to check. It's called the Moon. Where the planets are? Seriously, that's a useful tool? I think not. If the hope is that third party application developers will deliver the same uplifting experience on a humdrum device that the iPhone and iPad both benefited from at launch, then developers are going to have to start pulling some rabbits out of hats. Apple Pay and things like unlocking your hotel door aren't hugely useful if you already have to carry your iPhone (with those same capabilities) as well.

Compared to Android Wear's implementation of Google Now on the wrist the Apple Watch looks limited. Android Wear is already available from a range of OEMs, each putting their own spin on what the hardware should look like. All of it looking at least as good as the Watch.

So will the Apple Watch sell? I don't see why not. Some iPhone owners will certainly want to be seen with the latest new iProduct. And of course if you're an iPhone owner that wants a smart watch the Watch is the best choice right now (well, next year, technically).

Again, like the new iPhone I can't help feeling that Apple have disappointed. The original Galaxy Gear launched a year ago, Android Wear six months ago, and in that time Apple have not managed to move either the hardware or the software experience forward at all.

The Watch seems to me to be more about fashion than utility and functionality. A product to be seen wearing rather than to desire for it's capability. Even the proprietary watch bands smack of profiteering.

Right now if I was getting a new phone and wanted a watch to pair with it I'd take a Galaxy S5 and Gear Live over the iPhone 6 / watch combo ten times out of ten.


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