Apple Watch’s time as a ‘must-have’ has not yet arrived

The main idea of the Apple Watch is that it will perform a double act with your iPhone

The Apple Watch. You can get an Apple Watch for a snip starting at “just” $349

The Apple Watch. You can get an Apple Watch for a snip starting at “just” $349

 

Just as anticipation of the Apple Watch reached fever pitch last month, with the announcement of an actual release date, the latest catalogue for department store Nordstrom arrived in the post at my mother’s Silicon Valley home, where I was visiting.

There, highlighted alongside all the glamorous clothes and accessories, was a dapper gold-tone metal retro 1970s Casio digital watch.

Apparently this retro-tech is part of a popular trend, along with the even chunkier Casio G-Shock. These watches bring back the sense of sheer waste I felt as a child, having spent hours learning to tell time with big hand and little hands, when now you could just read the digital numbers, easy peasy.

The ironic contrast between the watches made me laugh (and feel a bit old).

On one hand, we had Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealing all the high tech goodies coming with the Apple Watch – how owners will be able to read emails, synch their fitness achievements, talk to Siri and make calls. All for just $10,000 to $17,000.

Okay, okay – that’s for the special Gold Watch Edition Apple Watch, which can even come encrusted with diamonds, but I thought we might as well compare like to like by category (eg “gold” watches). You can get an Apple Watch for a snip starting at “just” $349.

But let’s contrast Mr Cook’s new device with the $65 Casio. The latter promises the technological excitement of, well, a digital day and date function (meaning: it will show not just the time, but even the day and date, in those squarish digital numerals and letters). According to the catalogue, the watch also “features” the ability to make that annoying beep every hour on the hour, which I always thought of as a bug, especially during movies or concerts, when hundreds might chime at once.

The Casio also has a light button on the side, to illuminate the dial when you are in a dark place. Remember those lighting up lecture halls, movie theatres and concerts?

I cannot believe anyone wants to bring these particular visual and aural annoyances back, but I guess it’s all part of the mystery of retro attraction.

They certainly cannot be any worse than having people talk to Siri on their Apple Watch. Will people do this? Seriously? (Siri-ously?) I can’t picture it, even on the streets of Palo Alto.

Talking to Siri, to my mind, is the kind of thing self-respecting people only do in the privacy of their own home, or at any rate, behind closed doors. The notion of holding up your wrist to talk to Siri as you sit at a table in a restaurant or perform a yoga stretch just crosses some bizarreness border. Doesn’t it?

Maybe I’m the odd woman out here, but the first thing I always do with a new iPhone or iPad now is go to Settings and turn off Siri. I really don’t care that Siri has learned something new (a strange announcement to get, but incessant on my new iPad until I shut the old gal down).

The main idea of the Apple Watch is that it will perform a double act with your iPhone, which means that even at the plain entry level watch model, you’ll be forking out close to a thousand bucks, and near that in euro, to get all that Apple functionality.

In that sense, the watch really isn’t the sleek and simple device it is most often compared to: the Dick Tracy two-way wrist radio/TV. Last month, Cook said the Apple Watch was inspired by his boyhood fascination with Tracy’s watch.

In fact the real inventor behind the walkie-talkie technology that inspired the Dick Tracy watch also invented all sorts of cool stuff that found no market at the time but is a patent behind lots of today’s technologies, such as mobile phones and garage door openers. (You can read more about this fascinating man, Al Gross, here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/10/how-dick-tracy-invented-the-apple-watch.htm)

I sure don’t see the appeal of the Apple Watch at this point. Not in the way that the first iPod made total sense, the first iPhone was mind-blowing, and the iPad, game changing.

I’m willing to be persuaded as time goes on, though. I happily admit I can be totally off the mark with new-fangled stuff. Twitter, for example, seemed a pretty stupid idea to me at first. Now, it is my favourite form of social media.

But I am not sure the Apple Watch’s time has really arrived. I think it will take a while for “the rest of us”, the market Apple has always liked, to feel it’s a must-have.

For now, maybe I should just order the Casio, and re-embrace the hourly time beep.

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