Apple Watch: Personal, Intimate, Private and Light

30 Mar 2015|Brian Kushnir

Back in September 2014 Jonny Ive intoned in this beautifully constructed film accompanying the launch of the Apple Watch, that when technology is worn it should be “truly personal.” In light of the recent announcement of the launch date next month and the raging debate around Apple and wearable technology at SXSW 2015, is the Apple Watch a clue for the company’s next evolution into more personalization or a betrayal of their core values?

Personalization as we’ve previously commented is one of the key trends emerging in society today. From the video: “A range of products so personal…you wear them on your wrist.” “You can personalize their experience and their capability.” “As much about personal preference and self expression as functionality.” “Personalization extends way beyond the interface.” “…unparalleled personalization, both in appearance and capability.” “…technology to be worn, to be truly personal.” “…infinitely adjustable.”

Beyond the simply personal, there is a growing desire for technology to be hyper personalized. Advances in technology mean that products are able to read consumers and give them what they want – sometimes without even being asked. The Apple Watch takes this a step further by allowing customers to shape it themselves. People are demanding smarter gadgets that are bespoke extensions of our bodies – with every tiny task becoming easier and more enhanced. We also want gadgets to monitor our every movement. Being in control of one’s body means knowing it inside out. We can track more and more aspects of our lives with increasing accuracy and detail, and use the data to enrich our life experiences. The Apple Watch is speaking directly to these desires, making it possible to have wearable technology that does not just deliver functionality, it also looks beautiful and stylish. To this point, when pre-orders begin on 10th April there will be 38 design choices available ranging from the entry-level Sports model which will retail at £299 to the top-tier 18-carat gold editions at £13,500.

From the personal Apple moves outward, setting up the Apple Watch as an elegant way to create more intimacy with others. “…connects with the wearer at an intimate level.” “You can share something as personal as your own heartbeat.” “An entirely new way for you to connect intimately with others.” “…a gentle tap.” “Subtle ways to communicate.”

In setting up the Apple Watch as Personal and Intimate, Apple continues the trend we’re seeing toward the elimination of boundaries between humans and machines. In effect we are becoming one and the same. Already with technology like Google Glass and Oakley Airwave integrating technology into our vision experience, and other products incorporating sensors and motion control capabilities via devices, pendants, or in our clothing, we are getting more comfortable with the notion that technology is something that is part of us. As we increasingly become one with technology and it permeates our thinking, behaviors, and experience, even the meaning of ‘human’ is being stretched.
Perhaps anticipating concerns that may arise with a device so personal and intimate it can provide a “comprehensive picture of your daily activity,” there is also a nod to privacy – the Apple Watch is “a discreet and nuanced experience.” Making people feel that their most intimate data is secure is especially important in light of the recently disclosed hacking of Apple’s iCloud.

As ever, Apple wants to show off its cutting edge technology while keeping the user experience light, as it should be for a device as small as this. “Navigation is fluid,” “A linear actuator that provides haptic feedback to compliment your actions.”

Not everyone, however, is convinced that the features outlined by Ive in the film are going to be enough to translate into success for Apple and analysts’ opinions remain divided. This is the first new product launch since the post-Steve Jobs era and some feel that the Apple Watch is a move away from the simplicity which, up until now has always been at the core of Apple products. Not only is the Apple Watch, for the most part, unable to operate on its own (it requires an iPhone) but there is also a lack of clarity around its exact purpose.

The release of the price earlier this month only fuelled the debate further, with the entry-level price (£299) being higher than what some were expecting. That said, initial tech reviews have been largely positive with praise being given to its functionality, the quality described as “everything you’d expect from a high-end watch manufacturer” and whilst the battery life is not phenomenal, early reports of it lasting as little as 2.5 hours have been dismissed as unfounded.

There are already a number of competitors playing in this category; as well as products from the likes of Samsung and LG, we have also seen new collaborations forming including Swarovski with wearable start-up Misfit and Tag Heur with Google and Intel. Whilst the latter was only announced recently, it will be interesting to see what this collaboration brings to the table, especially in light of Guy Sémon, Tag Heur General Director’s recent comment when asked about the venture. “How to make a connected watch? The normal approach is to copy Apple – but Apple Watch is not a watch, it is a connected device on the wrist. There is a big difference”.

So the question is; will the Apple Watch be the product that brings wearables to the masses? A device that compliments my actions and looks stunning across three distinct collections is one that I and many more will be looking to get intimate with when it is launched next month.


Image source: Apple

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