Today in Cupertino, California, Tim Cook and his band of execs, techs and designers took to the stage to introduce the world to the newest initiatives and products from Apple. As was announced last week, today’s event would mark the full unveiling of Apple Watch, building on the product’s initial announcement last September. While the watch itself may not have distinguished itself too much from its competitors, Apple has made the strongest case for consumer wearables yet.
The event was a biggie for Apple. The presentation began with a reiteration of impressive iPhone sales stats from last quarter, an exclusive partnership with HBO for the cable channel’s new streaming service, a noble initiative regarding medical research and a major innovation in MacBook tech before getting to the main event.
After Tim Cook’s reintroduction of the smartwatch, giving an overview of the wearable device’s primary functions, he handed the presentation over to Kevin Lynch who walked us through a day in the life of an Apple Watch user. His time on stage was intended as a way to show off some of the nifty apps made with the WatchKit SDK, but in the end illustrated the kind of convenience and peace of mind offered to consumers by the Internet of Things.
All of the features announced in the September keynote were demonstrated right on stage (except for the creepy heartbeat sharing function which only got a single mention from Cook this time). Lynch checked the weather in New York with his voice, took a note, answered a phone call and picture messaged his wife before getting into the most impressive and convenient Apple Watch features.
First, Lynch demonstrated contactless payment through the Watch’s Apple Pay functionality. A double press of the side button brings up a credit card and the watch is brought close to (but doesn’t touch) a payment terminal. With a portable card reader, Lynch made the payment on stage, noting that the smartwatch vibrates to confirm a mobile commerce transaction has been made.
He went on to demonstrate an Uber App, which not only allowed him to select a driver, but also showed the car’s location and displayed a picture of his ride with an estimated time of arrival. The ride share app worked well and demonstrated a highly desirable amount of convenience while also piquing curiosity. Considering that earlier in the presentation Cook announced that every major car manufacturer has accepted Apple’s CarPlay, this ordering of an Uber on your wrist is only the beginning of how wearables and transportation are going to collide.
Finally, and most impressively, Lynch managed to use his Apple Watch presentation as a platform to demonstrate some of the most user friendly IoT applications available right now. After explaining that the Apple Watch can be used as a boarding pass, he showed off a hotel app that transformed his wearable into a remote room key. Then, imagining he was still on the opposite coast in a hotel room, Lynch had his daughter text him a message saying that she was locked out of their California house.
Apple Watch and IoT came to the rescue. Responding with a voice-to-text SMS message he told his daughter to use the garage door, which he opened remotely with the touch of his watch face. Thanks to a connected camera in Lynch’s garage, the Apple Watch displayed real time footage of his garage door opening and his daughter safely making it into the house. It was a consumer product demonstration leveraging technologies so new that most of the public don’t yet understand they exist and are readily available.
Apple’s smartwatch presentation served as an exciting endorsement for wearable tech and showcased the benefits of having strong third party support in the form of well designed apps. That said, the Apple Watch itself did not come off as seeming much better than its Android Wear competitors. What the presentation nailed though, is exactly why wearables are important for everyday consumers: they allow us to interact with the connected word in a super-convenient way.
(photos from apple.com)