Monday’s Apple “Spring Forward” announcement was chalked full of new Apple product information about Apple Watch, New MacBook, Apple TV + HBO Now, and Mac line up updates. In addition to a long list of design inspirations and new capabilities, a few other things jumped out for me during the announcements.
The day started with Tim Cook telling us about the 700 million iPhone unit sales and how iPhone has become so much a part of our daily lives. The iPhone (you could say all smartphones) are never farther than arms’ reach. Interesting then later when Apple showed Apple Watch was designed so we don’t have to reach for our iPhone.
Most things Apple Watch does, the biggest exception is loading apps from the App Store, is performed on the Apple Watch. When you use your Apple Watch, you don’t have to flip between your phone and watch devices to access fitness info, answer calls, check the weather or your calendar, see and respond to messages, or get help from Siri. Those things you can do right from the Apple Watch.
The added wi-fi plus bluetooth in Apple Watch means your iPhone can be in another part of the house and you can go right on using your Apple Watch, not tethered via a short Bluetooth leash like other Smartwatches. Similar to iPhone becoming even more important in customers’ lives than the iPod (because it’s built into the iPhone), Apple is attempting to make the bond with Apple Watch even stronger than with our iPhones.
Will Apple succeed? For some of the watch wearing faithful (and those who return to wearing a watch to be able to sport the Apple Watch) that answer could very well be yes. Apple does many things well and is one of the best at creating a tightly integrated user experience for their customers. The less time customers spend jumping back and forth between devices to use capabilities unavailable on their Smartwatches, synchronizing data or adjusting settings to get things working, the less intrusive and the more useful the experience is for Apple Watch customers.
Two things that could stand in Apple Watch’s way. Price and battery life. The $349 entry price is high but seems reasonable for something almost as advanced as our Smartphones, but the price rises quickly as you move up the line of chassis and wristband options. A stainless steel watch chassis and linked band runs $949 to $999 for example. 18 hour battery life means Apple Watch’s short tether is to a charging cable. Apple Watch won’t be of much use unless it is tucked in for a fresh charge every night.
Will Apple Watch move Smartwatches from tech novelties into the mainstream like iPhones and other Smartphones are today? Only time will tell.
Day 2 at CES was just as exciting and exhausting, filled with too many products, innovations and ideas to mention. Here are a few highlights.
Sharp IGZO smartphone display
Sharp demonstrated IGZO, underlying display technology present in Sharp smartphones and to-be-commercial monitor offerings. Bringing improved performance, lower power consumption, and 10 point touch interface technology, what I found most impressive was its responsiveness to the touch interface. For example, scrubbing forward/backward through a video on an IGZO smartphone was smooth and lacked the jumps and starts present on the iPhone (even with Retina). I find the scrubbing scroll bar in iTunes and watching videos difficult to use on the iPhone because of its poor detection of touch and stickiness when sliding the glide bar, whereas it was accurate and effortless on the IGZO smartphone display. Watch this IGZO smartphone demo on Phandroid.
Stick a small Bluetooth sensor on anything and it’s now easier to find with StickNFind. Utilizing small a small transmitter (quarter sized) emitting a low power Bluetooth signal, tagged items can be located with a range finder type smartphone app. You can also set the app to alert you when the item comes within range. Attach a sticker to just about anything; TV remote, computer, pet, luggage, keys, etc. Stickers operate on watch-sized batteries and can last up to one year. The smartphone app is free but stickers aren’t cheap (2 @ $49.95, 4 @ $89.95 retail) — you can get a price break on them at indiegogo for the next few days.
An incremental improvement rather than a revolutionary announcement, Corning brings us the third iteration of Gorilla Glass. Scratching your smartphone screen has more implications that just the scratch itself — small micro fractures are created all along the scratch, making it much more likely the display will fail in a future stress event. With Gorilla Glass 3, edges along any scratch bond more tightly together and suffer fewer micro fractures. Anything that helps prevent our smartphone screens from failing during a drop is a good thing.
Samsung’s had an interesting approach to marketing the Galaxy Note (I & II) and now the Galaxy camera at CES, promoting its “artistic” capabilities and image effect features. The entire back of the Galaxy camera is a touch screen where the images are viewed, manipulated and setting changes are made. The Galaxy camera is Wi-Fi connected and will immediately upload photos to Dropbox or other online services. (I would love to have one of these for blogging while at events like CES.) Samsung had attendees lined up again at this years CES, printing attendees’ enhanced photos on tshirts, mugs and small picture blocks.
In the “just for fun” category, how about Angry Birds spread across three contiguous screens. A bit excessive? Not necessarily, if you love Angry Birds enough. Seeing this made me smile, so I had to include it to this post.