Category Apple Watch

☆ On Apple Watch Battery Life

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the battery life of the Apple Watch following a scoop by 9to5Mac:

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes…

Apple has also been stress-testing the Apple Watch’s battery life with pre-bundled and third-party applications. Our sources say that Apple is targeting 2.5 hours of “heavy” application use, such as processor-intensive gameplay, or 3.5 hours of standard app use. Interestingly, Apple expects to see better battery life when using the Watch’s fitness tracking software, which is targeted for nearly 4 hours of straight exercise tracking on a single charge.

Initially I thought those numbers were brutal, but after some consideration I think 3.5 hours of standard use will suffice for most users.

Here’s why.

Apple has consistently said the Apple Watch would require daily charging.

As an example, my ‘day’ begins at 6 AM and ends at midnight when I go to sleep, which means the Apple Watch would need to last 18 hours to make it through a full day. If we do a little bit of math given the estimated 3.5 hours of battery life, it means the Apple Watch could be ‘active’ – as in, the display is on and being used – for 20% of my day.

20% seems like a pretty high percentage, especially considering my iPhone is still my main source of communication. Of course, there will be people who try to game on the Apple Watch and who will be disappointed when it shuts off after a couple hours. Those will be the same people who will complain through every medium they can that the Apple Watch is a failure. For the average person however, I suspect 3.5 hours will be sufficient for all-day use.

Luckily, I don’t think we will have to wait much longer for some answers from Apple.

☆ About Those Apple Watch Predictions

As the Apple Watch (potential) release date draws near, I figured it was time for me to fill some holes in my initial predictions and draw some new conclusions.

About Those Predictions

Functionally, I was mostly right. The Apple Watch is tethered to an iPhone, it supports 3rd-party applications, has fitness capabilities and appears to be water-resistant (not sure about water-proof). Where I was drastically wrong (I predicted I may be) was in regards to battery life and pricing.

First off, battery life. I optimistically predicted 9 months ago the Apple Watch would feature a week-long battery life. Leading up to the keynote, multiple rumours and eventually Apple themselves proved me wrong. As Tim Cook himself alluded to the Apple Watch battery life:

“We think people are going to use it so much you will end up charging it daily”

That’s his way of saying the battery life won’t last longer than a day. While this doesn’t surprise me, it does magnify the struggle technology companies are having in regards to sustaining battery life while trying to fit them into smaller and smaller packages.

Ultimately I don’t think the 1-day battery life of the Apple Watch will be a deal breaker for anyone, but I think it will be a deterrent for some. There’s a big difference with a 1-day iPhone battery life and that of a watch. The difference is when your smartphone dies part-way through the day, you don’t have to wear it on your wrist, as dozens of people ask you about it (which will no doubt be the case in the beginning).

One of the predictions I made for the Apple Watch months before launch was in order to prevent wearing a useless item on your wrist when battery life ran out, Apple Watch would offer a second ‘mode’ which would be activated when the charge ran low. Even though this wasn’t announced initially, I still expect this to be a feature. Think of it this way: when your Apple Watch dies (or say, gets under 5% charge), wouldn’t it be crazy to not be able to use it to tell time? 

Secondly, pricing. We now know the Apple Watch will start at $349 and all signs point to that being for the Sport model. The cost of the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition are anyones guess, but I suspect the Apple Watch to come in at $599 and the Edition somewhere around the $1,299 price point. 

There’s been a ton of speculation over these price points, but one thing I haven’t heard discussed much (or at all) is the cost of the bands. One would have to assume you get a band included in the price, I mean, I can’t imagine Apple selling the Watch without including some way of attaching it to your wrist. 

But how will pricing work out? Apple could no doubt (and probably will) charge a premium cost for the Link Bracelet or the Milanese Loop, with the Sport Band falling on the other end of the cost spectrum. I get the feeling Apple doesn’t expect people to buy multiple bands and swap them out to match with different outfits (even though some people probably will buy 2 or 3). 

This brings me to another question. How does Apple intend on implementing different coloured Crowns? We can see in the video the Crown comes in several different colours (silver, white, black, red, grey). Will the Crown be interchangeable to match different bands? Or will the colour of the Crown be tied to the Band it’s bundled with? I suspect the answer is the latter option. Interchangeable bands have existed on watches for years, but I’ve never seen a watch with interchangeable crowns. 

* * *

There’s many more questions to be answered, and I’m sorry if I added a few to the list. I suspect we won’t have to wait much longer to get answers as the ‘early 2015’ window slowly closes.

Despite these unknowns, I’m extremely excited for the future of the Apple Watch and can’t wait to get some answers.

Apple Watch iPhone 'Companion' App

Mark Gurman with another great scoop. As expected, Apple is relying heavily on the iPhone for most of the Apple Watch settings.

The report states a passcode will be required for Apple Pay to work on the Watch. I do however, wish it somehow had Touch ID. The idea of having to enter my passcode manually on a separate device sounds like a pain.

Selling Apple Watch

Neil Cybart on marketing the Apple Watch:

Over the past few months, I’ve learned to change the way I explain Apple Watch to friends and family. Instead of starting out with a list of reasons why they may enjoy an Apple Watch, I now begin with a pretty simply explanation: Apple is making a watch with customizable faces and bands. I then let that person respond, and depending on their answer, I mention how Apple Watch can serve as a communication device, a health and fitness tracker, or a mobile payment facilitator.  As a result, I now get a much more open response from people that want to see and learn more about Apple Watch. That is how Apple will sell Apple Watch. 


Initial Impressions for WatchKit

Today Apple unveiled WatchKit. I am very pleasantly surprised by how capable it is. In my Expectations for WatchKit article I outlined that I thought we’d see a two phase roll-out of the platform. Starting with pretty limited capabilities that would then be expanded at next year’s WWDC. It turns out that I was only half correct. It is two phase but the first phase is much more capable than I was expecting.

In the first phase we will be able to build Glances, Actionable Notifications and iPhone powered apps. The last of which has me most excited.

My only question: how will these apps affect iPhone battery life?

Expectations for WatchKit

Keep this in mind when Apple provides more information on the launch of the Apple Watch:

It will only be later next year that full apps will be possible (on the Apple Watch). It is not a stretch to think that later next year is code for WWDC next June. Likely along with WatchOS (or whatever they call it) version 2.0. There is a delightful symmetry with the history of iPhone OS, where we didn’t get a full SDK until 2.0 (though I’m sure people will similarly jailbreak to get a head-start). 

This two phase rollout of capabilities makes a lot of sense. Building a fully native app for a device that you’ve never touched, with a radically new form-factor would be a perilous proposition. Doing that for the iPad was bad enough and that was ‘just a big iPod touch’.

This way you won’t be surprised. 

Teens Aren't So Hot On The Apple Watch

Victor Lukerson from Time:

The Piper Jaffray survey of 7,200 teens, conducted in person and online across 41 states, aims to find out about teens’ consumption habits and technological preferences. While Apple’s iPhone was popular among the teens surveyed—two-thirds said they had one—just 16% said they were interested in buying an Apple Watch, according to Re/Code.

Interesting survey, but I think there is a flaw in their numbers. Considering you have to own an iPhone in order to use an Apple Watch – and a third of people in this survey admitted to not having one – the numbers are slightly skewed. Taking into account the ~33% of teens participating in this survey who don’t own iPhones, the percentage of interested buyers would increase from 16% to roughly 25%.

I feel like these things should be accounted for when making claims on an unreleased product.


A Watch Guy's Thoughts On The Apple Watch

A great read from Benjamin Clymer with a bevy of pictures:

Apple products have a way of making someone not want to live without them, and while I wasn’t able to fully immerse myself in the OS yesterday, what I saw was impressive. So while certainly not direct competition for haute horology watchmaking right now, the Apple Watch is absolutely competition for the real estate of the wrist, and years down the road, it could spell trouble for traditional watches even at a high level.

I completely agree.

With iWatch and New iPhones, Apple CEO Tim Cook Faces Defining Moment

I’ve tried many smartwatches and never found anything particularly compelling about them. I’ve played with a few mobile payment services and never felt like they offered a greater convenience than just whipping out a credit card. And I’ve never taken the plunge to use any of the various health monitor gadgets. 

Then again, when I first saw the iPad back in January 2010, I didn’t feel particularly moved by it. It was only when I eventually bought one that I suddenly couldn’t remember how I’d managed without it. Just like I did with my first iPhone and iPod.