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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.

"Apple recognized that you need two sizes, but this is still 'geekware,' it's still descended from a calculator," said Gottheil. "But the design and the [multiple] bands really move it into true 'watch' territory."

In a demonstration, Kevin Lynch, who was Adobe's chief technology officer before being hired by Apple last year, showed off the Apple Watch's functions and features, ranging from incoming notifications -- with the most-likely replies displayed after an analysis of the incoming message -- and an integrated Siri digital assistant to receiving calls and viewing photos taken earlier by an iPhone or iPad, or with a camera whose contents have been uploaded to a Mac or simply placed in the Photo Stream.

The Apple Watch also acts as a miniature GPS device, complete with walking or driving directions, with haptics feedback to indicate turns and their direction. Reaching out to contacts can be done with phone calls, texts and with a new mode, called "Digital Touch," that lets users draw on the small screen.

Developers will be able to build and customize their apps using "WatchKit," said Lynch, who showed bits and pieces of apps from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, American Airlines, Major League Baseball and Nike.

Apple Watch also works as a health and fitness device, courtesy of the new Fitness and Workout apps. Sensors within the device measure the wearer's heartbeat, track body movement, and monitor sitting time. Data can be shared with the iOS 8 Health app on an iPhone.

Apple Pay will also work with the new wearable.

The new device requires an iPhone, and will work with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as the 5, 5C and 5S. It will start at $349, and will be available early next year, as recent rumors claimed. "And it will be worth the wait," Cook said.

Baker, Gottheil and Milanesi were each taken with the Apple Watch, and believe it has the potential to become a major revenue stream for the Cupertino, Calif. company -- if not on the level of the iPhone, then certainly with an opportunity to become as important to the bottom line as the iPad or Mac.

"Apple today said, 'See, we can do it,'" said Gottheil when asked if there was a problem with the several-month lag between introduction and on-sale for the Apple Watch. "I think they were eager to do that, to answer the criticism, to put an end to the discussion 'Can Apple innovate?'"

Milanesi, who like Baker was at the event -- Gottheil watched the webcast -- was most impressed with a seemingly minor detail which actually preceded the event. "Half the people in the audience were Apple employees, all sitting in the front. Reporters and analysts were towards the back," said Milanesi. "That was a nice touch. This was all about the new Apple, the company, not a single person, not one product, but all the products together."

 

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