No company in the tech world can match Apple when it comes to marketing new products, and its success in selling innovative mobile devices is unparalleled as well. So it makes sense that the Apple Watch has captured the imagination of app developers and tech-loving consumers alike. More than 3,000 apps had been developed before the Watch branch of the App Store had even opened, and Apple said recently that demand for the gadget was outpacing supply, forcing it to delay some pre-order deliveries by weeks.
But consumers who don’t need the latest and greatest piece of new technology right away may want to think carefully before they plunk down $350 or more for the Apple Watch. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about becoming one of the early-adopting cool kids.
It’s for iPhone users only.
The Apple Watch is clearly a sophisticated gadget with its own sensors and processor. But the key to its usefulness is the Bluetooth connection to the iPhone, where many Watch apps are stored. The Watch uses the phone’s GPS to determine location, for instance, and the Camera Remote app serves as a viewfinder for the Watch’s camera. And the Watch works only with the iPhone 5 or later generation.
It’s all about push, not pull.
While many consumers receive alerts and other information on their handsets, most of us use our smartphones largely to access specific online information when we want it – to check the weather forecast, browse recent Facebook posts, or use Google to settle a bar bet. The Apple Watch, though, is designed primarily as a vehicle for information that is pushed to the user – notifications such as calendar reminders, updates on a package being delivered, or a delayed flight. That data can be very valuable, of course, but multiple surveys indicate a substantial percentage of users don’t like receiving push notifications. If you’re one of those, think twice about the Apple Watch.
It’s a first-generation device.
The cutting-edge nature of an entirely new device holds its own appeal, but first-generation gadgets often have wrinkles and bugs that must be addressed. Reports have already surfaced that Apple had to slow production due to a defective taptic engine, and some users with tattoos covering their wrists claim the ink interferes with the Watch’s ability to monitor heart rates and receive notifications. There’s a good chance we’ll see more of these glitches as more first-generation Watches are sold.
It runs mostly first-generation apps.
There’s always a learning curve for developers building apps for an entirely new device, and that’s especially true with the smaller screens and limited controls of the Apple Watch (or, really, any smartwatch). Additionally, many developers rushed to create apps for the Apple Watch before they even had a chance to lay their hands on the new device. It isn’t at all surprising, then, that some pundits are claiming that lack of quality apps is the Apple Watch’s biggest flaw. I expect the quality of apps to improve quickly as developers become more familiar with the device, but for at least the next few months, users should keep their expectations in check.
There are some attractive alternatives on the market.
Apple Watch is enjoying tremendous buzz, but there are some attractive options for consumers who are interested in a smartwatch but don’t want to be locked into the iOS ecosystem – or don’t want to pay $350 or more. In fact, “Consumer Reports, “ recently said the Apple Watch was the top performer among 11 smartwatch models tested, but noted that “several Android-compatible models and one multi-OS-compatible smartwatch got very good overall scores as well.” So users who aren’t enamored of Apple should shop around.