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Apple Watch steals show from biggest iPhone ever

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 10, 2014
CEO Tim Cook leads biggest product rollout since the first iPhone to trumpet new smartphones, a digital payment service and a foray into fashion.

Some major websites, including Apple's own online store, Groupon, Target and Uber will integrate Apple Pay with their iOS apps.

"This is the first payment system that I think has a chance of success," said Van Baker of Gartner. "They have the banks, they have the retailers, they have the credit card companies. This will be huge."

Apple Pay will launch next month, and the software support will be provided as an over-the-air update to iOS 8 then.

Just Watch me
But the star of the show wasn't an iPhone, even the large-screen iPhone Plus, or Apple Pay.

"We have one more thing..." said Cook, a line made famous by Jobs, and five words that got some of the biggest applause of the morning. "We love to make great products that enrich people's lives. We've been working incredibly hard for a long time on an entirely new product. It is the next chapter in Apple's story. Apple Watch is the most personal device we've ever created."

The wearable is a combination of timepiece; link to the iPhone for tasks such as notifications, email and calls; and a health and fitness device.

"Wow," said Baker. "We didn't see an announcement for a watch, we saw a collection of watches, with a slew of apps. It's so much more than a watch."

Rather than rely on gestures -- something that wouldn't work on such a small display -- the Apple Watch uses the "digital crown," the rotating wheel atop the stem on a traditional watch -- for navigation and operation. The device is also touch-enabled, and uses a chip to provide tactile feedback.

Apple called it the "Taptic Engine," a play on the word "haptics," the term for tactile feedback technology that mimics touch, usually with small motors.

"I'm very impressed," said Gottheil, who admitted he had been a skeptic going into the Apple event. "It looks like Apple's [Watch] solved a number of the design problems in all current smartwatches, including navigation, tactile feedback and an understanding that it has to be as fashionable as you can make a device like this."

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of U.S. business for Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, also praised the Apple Watch, or more accurately, how it meshed with what Apple introduced earlier in the one hour, 45-min. unveiling. "It really made sense to have all this together, the iPhones and the Apple Watch," said Milanesi. "They are complementary. This was about the bigger Apple, the bigger ecosystem."

The device's crystal is made of sapphire -- this is the device that will use the ultra-hard material that Apple has spent millions on -- and the Watch can be fixed to six different bands, including a sports band, leather, and steel links, some of them available in several colors. Apple Watch will come in two physical sizes, essentially one for women, another for men, but the combination of watch materials and bands let Apple create three different collections, including one in gold.

 

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