Apple launched its new wearable device, the Apple Watch, on Tuesday and the tech media has gushed with enthusiasm about the device. Everyone seems to love it. “Apple Watch looks to be another winner ,” says ABC.
But the device has two obvious flaws that people aren’t really saying much about.
Here are the two problems:
- The watch only works if you’re carrying an iPhone at the same time. It isn’t an independent gadget that functions on its own. It needs to be tethered to a nearby iPhone via Bluetooth if you want it to do its stuff.
- The watch’s battery doesn’t last all day. It must be charged anew each night, Apple says. That means you can’t sleep with it on your wrist, like, you know, a normal watch. Even Apple is unhappy with it, we hear.
When Samsung began releasing smartwatches several months ago, the company was panned because its watches required a nearby Galaxy device to function properly. Samsung made the mistake of launching the first Galaxy Gear watch at a time when it was only compatible with a Samsung Note. The company has since improved its watch line so that they’re compatible with all the major Samsung models.
But still, tech writers hated the Samsung watches. “The Galaxy Gear is bulky and useless. It needs a phone to be even moderately useful,” complained my colleague Jay Yarow. “Despite all the hype surrounding the Galaxy Gear today, there’s one glaring problem with it. It only works with one Samsung phone, the soon-to-be-released Galaxy Note III,” said another of my colleagues, Steve Kovach.
I’m not picking on them! Their rivals agreed! CNET said, “the fact that it’s only compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 at launch … you have a recipe for disappointment.” Engadget chimed in: “If you purchase a Galaxy Gear and don’t have a compatible device, congratulations — you just bought yourself a brick.”
Needless to say, those same people are not describing the Apple Watch as “useless” or a “brick” even though it has the exact same issue: You need to buy an iPhone to make it work. (At this point, Samsung’s watches actually work with a larger number of models than Apple’s do — but they have been on the market for months.)
To be fair to Apple, it looks as if the Apple Watch has a far wider array of new and unusual apps and functions than Samsung’s Gear line does.
But Apple is still basically asking consumers to give up the convenience of carrying a powerful communication device that tells the time in favour of carrying two powerful communications devices that tell the time, one of which doesn’t work without the other, and won’t last through the night.
That is a hurdle. The same hurdle Samsung faces.
I believe Apple will fix this. History shows that companies tend to be able to improve battery life over time. If Samsung can do it, Apple will eventually catch up. So the battery thing will probably be fine in the end.
As for the watch-phone pairing, the market will sort that out. Apple may well win there in the end, given the Watch’s superior function array.
It’s ironic though, that the beating Samsung received in the media has worked in Apple’s favour. Apparently, everyone is now a lot more comfortable with the idea of a watch that doesn’t work without a phone.
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