Opinion: Apple’s new phone… no, watch

What is an Apple product release day without the frenzied furious tweets, the tortuous lines that outdo any Black Friday queue, or the live coverage on national television? The blockbuster launch days of Apple products have thrilled the world time and time again. But I am surprised to say that there will be no metal barricades in sight this time around for the hugely anticipated Apple Watch.

The release of the Apple Watch marks a significant milestone in the company’s history, as its first venture into the smart “wearables” market and the first product whose earlier iterations were not created under Steve Jobs, but rather under current CEO Tim Cook. It starts an entirely new category of products for the company that I am bemused to see is uncharacteristically a latecomer to the smartwatch scene.

A completely new sales strategy accompanies the new product line, which forgoes the long in-store queues by shifting purchasing processes online. To browse physical samples, prospective buyers of the Watch must book a fifteen-minute “try-on” appointment with Apple.

Although the Apple Watch represents many new developments for the company – an entirely new product line, a new marketing strategy, a new stage in the company’s growth – one thing that remains constant is Apple’s attention to design. The Apple Watch looks great with its sleek, sophisticated lines of cool metallic sheen. In terms of design, Apple has proven to be still far and ahead of its competitors – especially Samsung’s range of smartwatches that resemble having a band-aid wrapped around your wrist.

But once I was past the design of the Apple Watch, I must confess I ended up wondering what exactly I would be paying for if I were to buy the Watch. Despite the fact that it comes with enough functions that it could very well be a wrist worn computer, I am still at a loss as to what, in essence, it does. I cannot see it as anything above unnecessary and impractical.

We currently live in a world where the traditional function of the watch has long since been minimalized. Even in my room, I already have three sources from which I can tell time – the bedside clock, the right hand corner of my laptop screen, and my phone. The watch has become solely an accessory.

In addition, the Apple Watch is linked directly to your phone, so that any notifications such as text messages, emails, or phone calls, would be directed simultaneously to the Apple Watch by vibrating on your wrist. While this might pertain to Apple’s statement that the its watch is its “most personal device ever,” I question whether this is an effective function. With my Macbook linked to my iPhone, I had multiple devices ringing at me whenever I received a notification and I’ve always checked either my phone or my laptop – never have I used both to check the same notification.  Adding the Watch to this hodgepodge of gadgets entails turning off yet another ringing bell, or charging yet another device every night, as I’m sure many of us already do in our technology-dominated lives.

Having the Watch ring with notifications while strapped to our wrists is also highly likely to create some socially problematic situations.

For instance, after spending a week with the Apple Watch, Bloomberg’s Josh Topolsky noted that while he was alone or on the go, checking notifications on the watch was not a hassle. When he was in meetings or even casual conversations, however, looking down at the Apple Watch when it vibrated immediately took the form of rude behavior.

Turning off the notification setting would unlikely solve the problem. The wearer has to either look down once in a while to see if any messages have arrived or sacrifice the watch’s primary functions in their near entirety.

Apple advertises other functions of the Apple Watch that are also available on the smartphone, such as the use of Google Maps and the ability to take pictures and videos.  On a half-inch screen, the practicality of these capacities is absolutely minimal, perhaps saving the wearer the ever so troublesome action of taking out their phone in return for squinting at a 14 millimeter wide watch face ($50 more expensive than the 38 millimeter version).

Admittedly, it does have functions unseen in the iPhone, such as the ability to send your heartbeat to another Watch wearer, or sketch a drawing on the – I must add – half-inch screen. But knowing that the novelty of these equally uninspiring properties of the Apple Watch will wear down after a few uses, I have yet to find a valid reason to purchase it.

That said, it is an Apple product – this in itself pulls those like myself, who harbor breathless adoration of the brand.

Yet, the Apple Watch is merely an acutely smaller, bodily-attached version of the smartphone. Unless somebody truly needs the Mickey Mouse Watch face that taps its foot in synchronization with all other Apple Watches around the world, I remain doubtful as to whether we will be able to see as many versions as the iPhone.