Technology, innovation, and how rare it is!

Apple recently announced their newest phones, a watch, and payment method amidst the usual statements claiming how ground breaking their technology is.

Actually, before I go on, I should clarify my stance on Apple. It’ll become obvious as I go on, but its always good to set things straight.

I like Apple products. They’re designed well, and for people who just want their devices to do what they’re designed for, they’re a good product. When it comes to devices for my parents, I couldn’t ask for better. I’d also have them for my kids too, if they weren’t so expensive.

That said though, I don’t believe they’re anything new, I just believe they’re polished products.

When the first iPhone was being launched, I worked for a company that carried out technical support for mobile phones. Phones at the time were already touch screen (this had already been around for 5+ years) Data transfer rates on phones were getting better, HSDPA had been announced, and 3g had been the stable for a few years. Camera were on almost every phone, and quality was pretty good for photo and video.

The original iphone was announced with GPRS speeds of data, and no video capabilities. But, it was announced as a ground-breaking device. It did, admittedly, have a better quality of touch than previous touch screens, and it had an app store, which google were also doing with their android OS. So the UI for the iPhone was polished.  This was 7 years ago though, and each year they’ve launched, they’ve tagged new features on. Normally these features will have already been available on other devices, and Apple will have polished their OS to use them in an interesting way. But at each step, these new additions have been ‘ground-breaking’ when really, its just the hype machine. I think thats the thing that bugs me most about apple. The hype.

In 2012, a small company of inventors took to Kickstarter with an idea for a smart watch. There were already watches that connected to phones via Bluetooth, and gave limited feedback, but this company were announcing a device which was more than just a watch with a single line of text. They aimed to raise $100k, which they met within two hours of posting it online. They eventually raised just under $5million through kickstarter.

This watch would have apps, it had an e-paper screen (think kindle/ebook reader). It could pass data back and forth with a phone, and also had sensors for acceleration. It was ‘one of’ the first smartwatches made on a massive scale.

We ordered two.

I’ve worn mine non stop for just over a year now, and use it fortext notifications, email notifications. Social media updates. I have an app that checks local bus times, based upon my geographical location. I have a few simple games (think early nokia style games) Several different watch faces. Weather apps, in case I’m too lazy to look out of the window. Pretty much everything I need on a watch. Battery life is approximately 1 week.

Now, I’m a geek, you may know this if you’ve read my other posts. I like shiny new tech. I’ve spent hours looking at the new smart watches from Samsung and LG, wondering just how good they’ll be. Colour touch sensitive screens suck up battery life, and they’re claiming they will last up to three days. I still can’t bring myself to commit just yet though.

The apple watch does look good. The videos I’ve seen though aren’t real-time. They’re simulated. This is obviously because they’re still working on them, they’re effectively beta products at the moment. That said though, if the UI runs as smoothly as the video says, it could be a fine product. The only downside? I can’t see them letting it link to non-apple products, which is going to reduce their market for wearables.

I’m not going to mention iWallet, other than to say its just an NFC chip, which lets face it, has shipped with non apple devices for years.

I’ll be interested to see what Apple does once google glass or the Occulus Rift comes out though. (perhaps a year or so down the line, if apple release dates hold true).

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