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Monday 24 October 2016

Apple Watch: the five best features....including battery

Matt Warman

Published 10/04/2015 | 12:00

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the Apple Watch during an Apple event in San Francisco
People wait for the going on display of Apple Watch in front of the Apple Store in Tokyo's Omotesando shopping district April 10, 2015. Apple Inc expects tremendous interest for its new smartwatch and demand to outstrip supply as consumers get an up-close look on Friday at CEO Tim Cook's first major product. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Company CEO Tim Cook launches the Apple Watch

Strong battery life

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Even using the Watch intensively, it never struggled to last a whole day, and once made two full days, just.

The way it looks

Much of the criticism aimed at smartwatches in the past has been over their bulk and the fact they look more like techy gadgets than desirable, elegant timepieces. Apple has made a conscious effort to market the Watch as a luxury item manufactured from premium materials, and it shows. From the clever magnetic strap to its understated design, it has attracted attention for all the right reasons, and is a luxurious, even beautiful fashion accessory.

 For me, it more than passes the fashion test. I’ve not encountered anyone who couldn’t find a strap and watch combination they genuinely liked, although few have actually had the chance to wear one in real life. I surprised myself by wanting to change straps depending on the social setting or, for instance, using a rubber sport band for exercise.

You look at your phone less

 The Watch is a filter for your phone, freeing you from the compulsive checking to see if anything new has happened. Apps will notify you only of the most important things, if you permit them.

 When it comes to text messages, for instance, you can instantly reply via Siri or with a set of intelligent, contextually aware phrases. With so few other Watch wearers while I was testing, it was hard to use the options to tap people on the wrist or to send them pictures or even my heartbeat; but while these ‘Digital Touches’ do feel like gimmicks they are also gimmicks with real, practical uses.

The level of customisation

 The face, which only lights up when it detects you’ve moved your wrist, is almost infinitely customisable. You can have Mickey Mouse tapping his foot to the time, a graphical display of sunrise and sunset, the moon and the planets or a vast array of typical ‘complications’ showing the time in other zones, your next meeting, how many calories you’ve burned or plenty of other options. It’s not novel, but as is so often the way with Apple it takes existing functions and does them better. All this is accessed simply by pressing - ‘force touching’ - a single finger on the time display.

The implications for your health

 For me, it was only in health and fitness that the Watch came into its own. A set of three rings track how much exercise you’ve done, how many calories you’ve burned and how much you’ve stood, as measured against your own goals. The aim each day is to make each ring come full circle each day. You can look at the data via your Watch or in more detail on your phone. Although it’s disconcerting that the Watch prompts you to stand while also giving you driving directions, it does, in appropriate situations, make a real difference.

 A ‘force touch’ can start or stop a workout, which can be tailored to rowing, running, walking or a host of other options. Paired with an iPhone the Watch can use GPS to track a route, or without it will do distance and play music via bluetooth headphones. If you achieve your goals, Apple gives you worthless but irrationally satisfying digital rewards.

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