Upcoming Apple watch shows promise in growing wearable technology market

By Noah Sunshine II Senior Staff Writer

     Remember the media frenzy when Google announced Glass, the connected heads-up-display that brought its search engine anywhere and kept just a hotword away? Tech skeptics came out in droves, claiming the avant-garde project would be the end of our privacy.

     The tech industry has since come up with a much more mild solution that, in a way, seems like a no-brainer: smartwatches. Glasses are part of a deeply personalized routine, and those (like me) plagued with terrible eyes will always struggle with ocular tech solutions. But a watch, that anyone can take off the rack and wear out of the store, offers an ideal accessory-turned-personal assistant. It handles notifications, voice commands, and remote control capabilities discreetly, with a subtle buzz on your wrist that prompts an easy, equally subtle glance.

     Well, that’s the dream. Smartwatches as a piece of hardware are riding the bleeding edge of tech manufacturing, as their size offers little room for a touch screen, processor, Bluetooth radio, and most importantly, battery. Everything we see this year (and saw last year) are infants in a steadily expanding
family.

     Unsurprisingly, when Silicon Valley rock star Apple announced their first smartwatch, the excitement for the form factor increased exponentially, even when it was still months out.

     Now, in February, we are only two months from the Apple Watch release, and any self-proclaimed Apple fan is considering the purchase. The fact is, though, that no one outside of Apple has tested their upcoming device, so in order to make an educated decision about purchasing one, we need to look to its contemporaries.

     Android has had several smartwatches out for the last six months, in a wide variety of shapes and styles, experimenting with the crowd to find the smartwatch sweet-spot. Motorola introduced one with a circular face, indistinguishable from a regular watch at a distance, and far-and-away crowd favorite at Google’s I/O conference when it was announced. It was plagued with terrible battery life, in no small part due to the relatively large screen, but the shortcoming has been largely mitigated by software updates that have given it a solid day of real world performance. Battery life has been a concern for the Apple Watch since some small leaks from journalists have exposed it as a possible shortcoming. Those looking to purchase will have to decide for themselves if charging nightly is worth the hassle. It will be, after all, offering a lot: notification management, music controls, fitness tracking, and many more features that we aren’t sure about.

     What the watch seems to excel at over its android brethren is the fashion aspect: Apple has already teased a gold version of the device, a first for both smartwatches and the company. They typically choose more “practical” metals for their handsets and computers which get dropped, bumped, and scratched. But for a watch, gold makes sense—it doesn’t tarnish, doesn’t damage your skin, and looks really, really good.

     So while Apple is a few months behind in their entry to the smartwatch game, they still have enough to distinguish themselves in the new market. But even Android fans should be excited by Cupertino’s new device: it’s competition that will push companies to develop better hardware, update software, and price competitively. Come April, we’ll all know more about the mystery device, but until then, everyone should be waiting with cautious optimism; the Apple Watch is a good thing.

Noah Sunshine is a Senior Staff Writer. His email is nsunshin@fandm.edu.

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