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Can't wait for the Apple Watch? You're not alone

Mike Elgan | Nov. 24, 2014
Apple's wrist wearable won't ship for months, but three groups of people can't wait for it.

Apple Watches

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch at a special event in September. The press was herded into a special tent to look at prototype watches running canned videos of what the watch might look like.

In short, we learned only the most basic and cryptic information about how the Apple Watch might work.

There were nuggets of gold in that announcement. For example, it was discernable that Apple was going in for establishing a deep psycho-physical bond between the wearer and the watch by combining its "Taptics" haptic engine with interface interactions, on-screen activity and sound.

But we've learned a lot more in the past two weeks, and the new details are whetting the appetites of three groups of people can't wait for the Apple Watch.

The developers who can't wait

Apple last week released its WatchKit toolkit to would-be Apple Watch developers.

The first wave of development for the Apple Watch will take place on iPhone apps, which extend their functionality to the Apple Watch when tethered via Bluetooth. In other words, the compute processing is taking place on the phone. The way it works is that by using WatchKit, developers can upgrade iOS apps with the addition of the WatchKit Extension. Inside the WatchKit Extension are the WatchKit Code and the resources needed for the functionality of the app and for the watch app itself. What happens on the watch is considered a "storyboard" -- basically screens populated with data. This is pretty much how Android Wear works, too.

The second wave, which Apple says it will enable sometime next year, will give developers the ability to build "native" Apple Watch apps that run even when the wearable isn't connected via wireless to an iPhone.

I imagine that the most powerful apps will run mostly on the iPhone indefinitely, while some apps will be able to run on the phone untethered.

The Apple Watch will come in two sizes, and we learned that these will have screens of two different resolutions -- 272 x 340 and 312 x 390 -- but both with the same 4:5 aspect ratio. The way WatchKit handles this is that objects start on the top left corner of the screen down and to the right to fill the space available.

Apple has some very clear ideas about how notifications will work. They come in two types: "short look" and "long look." Raise your wrist to get the "short look," and after a second or two it changes to the "long look" view, which has more information and action buttons like "comment" or "favorite."

Apple specifies a view called "Glances" -- one-screen chunks of read-only information that can't be interacted with in any way.


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