Grin and wear it

The Apple Watch has, as expected, created plenty of chatter. And it’s now launched three TV ads showcasing what it can do—and, perhaps unintentionally, what it can stop.  

Apple’s first advertising for the Apple Watch was a 12-page spread in Vogue. And the early promo videos were basically classy product demonstrations. But these ads, titled ‘rise’, ‘us’ and ‘up’, show how the technology integrates into people’s lives (or, if you’re a cynic, how it becomes the central part of it). 

As it says on Apple’s website: “Our goal has always been to make powerful technology more accessible. More relevant. And ultimately, more personal. Apple Watch represents a new chapter in the relationship people have with technology. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made, because it’s the first one designed to be worn.” 

There’s no doubt the Apple Watch has some interesting features (the Mickey Mouse clock face is easily the most impressive). But many of them, like sending your heartbeat to a friend, seem gimmicky. And as Matthew Crawford, author of The World Beyond Your Head, said in the Guardian recently, distraction is like “obesity of the mind“, so when one of the scenes in the ad shows two people sitting beside each other and communicating via their watch, that just seems sad. 

There is a growing switch off movement (and, ironically, it’s often those in the tech industry promoting the idea of mindfulness). And there is a growing belief that being bored is a good thing for creativity. Mobile devices generally remove that possibility as every spare moment is a chance to check it. But it’s doubtful this attitude can fight against the rampant desire for new things, especially when those new things come from Apple. 

John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman offered some great suggestions for other potential wearables such as the Samsung Cravat, which constricts airflow around your neck during major news events, the Motorola Sock, which posts to Facebook when you’re walking, the Nokia Prince Albert, which vibrates down below when friends contact you, or the Apple Eyeball, which is set to replace actual eyeballs in the not too distant future. 

Apple’s 18 carat gold model aims for the high-end fashion market and will sell for around $10,000, while its steel and aluminium options with customisable straps will be between $349 and $399. 

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said at the launch event that “in addition to being a beautiful object, the Apple watch is the most advanced timepiece ever created; it’s a revolutionary way to connect to others; and it’s a comprehensive health and fitness companion. We make products that enhance people’s lives, and the Apple Watch carries that to a new level. [It] tracks your daily movement, and it even reminds you if you’ve been sitting too long. It’s like having a coach on your wrist.” 

The watch, which lasts around one day per charge, needs to be tethered to an iPhone via Bluetooth to make or accept calls. So given phones are generally within arm’s reach and checked multiple times a day, it remains to be seen if punters can be convinced they need what The Guardian concluded was “essentially an expensive accessory for a smartphone”. Many weren’t convinced the iPad was needed either, and we know how that turned out. And Apple has, once again, combined the emotional with the practical to convince them they need this. 

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