I’m one of those guys who feels naked without a watch. I wear one everyday from the time I get up, until the time I go to sleep. In fact, I used to collect them. And, as a watch guy, I have very specific, and highly personal, criteria surrounding the watches I wear. Most people, who are watch people, are like this. They have specific needs a watch must fill and specific ideas about how a watch should fill those needs. After all, this is something that is attached to me at the wrist and I will interact with it more than any other device in my day — more than my iPhone or my Mac.
In 2012, I wrote that what set the iPhone apart for me was just how personal the iPhone had become. That the term Personal Computer was fulfilled like none before it. This is an angle that I don’t feel has been written about enough regarding Apple. One of the biggest things that sets them apart is that they understand that a device like this — one that is always with you and is an integral part of your interactions and communications — to be successful, needs to be deeply personal. And, if you take a close look at what they have done with the Apple Watch, they get that more than any other company. Tim Cook, describing the Apple Watch, even said it was “The most personal device we’ve ever created.”
Apple understands that this is the sort of device that, by its very nature, will be more personal than the iPhone. It’s not just in your pocket, separated and tucked away when not in use. A wrist based device is on you and out there all the time for everyone to see. Not only that, but you are being asked to allow this device to know more about you than your doctor. To let it pay for things for you. To help you communicate with your friends and loved ones in potentially more meaningful ways. And, to interact with it potentially more than you currently do with your iPhone. Apple understands this will be the most personal computer you will own.
They also understand us watch people. They know that those of us with the cash or care typically don’t just have one watch. We have two or three. A sporty one, a casual one, and a fancy dress up one. Some might be OK with wearing a $50 watch with a $500 suit, and I’m sure Apple will be happy to sell them only one band. For many though, Apple gets that the watch itself needs to blend into any environment the user could be in. So, make the the band easy to switch and offer just about any style one could ask for. But, at the same time, make the watch case look good with any of them. And, in allowing this level of customization it becomes more personal still. I suspect this is the reason why fashion editors were courted so heavily by Apple for this event. Apple knows that this will be a new premium “must have” with the fashionistas. An official Coach Apple Watch strap to match your bag, ma’am? Sir, I have just the Apple Watch strap to compliment those shoes…
Would I buy one? Sure. Would those who have not worn a watch since the age of the cell phone? I’m betting yes. Sure, there are many unanswered questions. Battery life was conspicuously not mentioned. Some have guessed that it is because they are still working on it. I think it is because they want to manage expectations and there is too much about real world use they don’t yet know and have not been able to widely test due to the secrecy surrounding it. It was mentioned that it charges overnight and that could be a “tell” (i.e. The battery lasts at least a day in normal use). Obviously, what third-party apps developers are able to come up with will help to define its value as well. I imagine part of announcing it so early (not due to ship until early next year) was so some of those folks would have plenty of time to dig into that. Also, how much functionality, exactly, requires the iPhone? What do you get when no iPhone is present. That might be an important consideration for many. Especially the many I know who have Android devices but might want an Apple Watch — for the fitness and health features, for example. Heck, it is cheaper than many fitness watches on the market (cheaper than my Garmin running watch was with the heart monitor strap and step tracking foot pod) and provides far better functionality without having the extra required stuff. I’d be compelled to purchase for that reason alone. But, all of these are details. I feel none of these alone or together will keep Apple from selling millions of these.
The piece that so many other smart watches have failed thus far is the personal aspect of such a device. It’s not just that they have failed to understand fashion or even interface design. It’s not just that they thought it being a computer on your wrist was enough. They failed to understand that such a device has to be an even more of a personal computer than what has existed before. It has to have a more personal purpose and meaning to the wearer.
To do that means it has to be an even more personal computer than what has existed before. It has to not only look good but serve the wearer in important ways. It has to have a great answer to the question, “What problem does this solve?”" That is a hard nut to crack. But, on the face of it, it sure looks like they have an answer for many.
Justin Chung’s desk.
There is something nicely warm about this.
The Creative Sound Blaster Roar is a new compact, portable speaker with Bluetooth and NFC. I’d like to thank the fine folks at Creative Labs for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.
By incorporating a bi-amplified (two amps, not one), far-field, high frequency, and 5 speaker system (including a subwoofer), it delivers powerful yet well balanced sound in a package smaller than a hardcover novel. I’ve had one for a few days now and I have been blown away at the quality and features it delivers at a very affordable price.
As with any speaker, one must begin by discussing the main thing that matters — the sound. I’ve now tested it by playing a variety of music, podcasts, and streaming radio on the Roar and came away impressed every time. The sound was clear and room filling. I never felt I was listening to an inexpensive portable speaker — no buzzing bass or straining highs. It was especially impressive with classical music — able to deliver the complexity, nuance and range on par with a higher-end full stereo system. Furthermore, one can use the TeraBass feature to boost the perceived loss of bass when listening at low volumes. This worked really well and never felt too “bass heavy” when using it as prescribed. And, the signature “Roar” feature instantly boosts the loudness, depth and spaciousness of the audio in situations like parties or larger gatherings where that is desired. In fact, I used this during a party over the weekend and my guests were shocked when I showed them where the music was coming from (not to mention the fact I was streaming it wirelessly from my iPhone). The sound alone for the price make this a compelling purchase. But, there are a ton of other features that push this well into the “must buy” range.
In the wireless department, The Sound Blaster Roar has just about the most comprehensive and versatile Bluetooth connectivity options available for a portable wireless speaker. One can allow only two trusted paired devices to connect, any paired trusted devices, or a “free for all” mode where anyone can stream to it. If you have an NFC enabled device, you can pair the device just by touching the device to the speaker.
A built in microphone means that you can use the speaker for hand-free calling. It also has an SD Card slot so one can play MP3, WAV, or WMA files directly from there. The SD Card slot also allows for the included integrated audio and voice recorder — you can even record your hands-free calls.
The battery is powerful and long lasting. I steamed music to it for hours and barely made a dent. Not only that, but you can plug your phone or iPad cable into the Roar’s USB port and charge your device from the built in battery. Very convenient.
The Roar also can be used over USB audio. This makes an excellent external speaker for your laptop or desktop computer. And, if your sound needs are really big, you can get Creative’s MegaStereo cable and connect two Roar’s together to double your sound.
The bottom line is that The Roar is the best portable wireless speaker I have heard to date. None others that I have seen deliver this level of quality and sound at such an affordable price. Don’t just believe me, it’s a 5-star rated, #1 Bestseller on Amazon too. Plus, it just plain looks fantastic. I highly recommend you check it out.
Object 04 by John Carey. I love all of the work John does and his photos have served as a source of beauty for all of my iDevices for years now. You can download this for your desktop, iPhone, or iPad at the link.