Apple Watch Launch: 6 Things We Know Now - InformationWeek

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4/26/2015
11:05 AM
Nathan Eddy
Nathan Eddy
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Apple Watch Launch: 6 Things We Know Now

Now that hotly-anticipated Apple Watch is out in the open, users have been revealing new capabilities and, in some cases, confirming suspicions about the Watch's practicality. From tiny screws to how waterproof it is, here's what we learned about the smartwatch.

10 Apple Watch Apps For Business, Productivity
10 Apple Watch Apps For Business, Productivity
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

On Friday, the Apple Watch "officially" went on sale at many high-end retail stores, and those lucky enough to have ordered early may have been able to pick up their new smartwatch if supplies allowed.

The Apple Watch, like all new Apple devices, was highly anticipated and brought a lot of excitement, as well as rumors, along with it. Crowds seemed eager to try it out for themselves -- and InformationWeek Associate Editor Kelly Sheridan managed to try one out at the Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

With so much information about the Apple Watch floating about, including a very interesting teardown by the engineers at iFixit, we decided to look at six facts that bubbled to the surface this week. Here's what you need to know about the Apple Watch at launch.

Apple Smuggled a Blood Oxygen Reader Inside

In iFixit's comprehensive teardown of the device, the team discovered that the device's heart-rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph -- an instrument that can also measure the user’s blood oxygen level. The team at iFixit is betting that US Food and Drug Administration regulations -- an issue that Apple and the FDA discussed back in December 2013 -- have something to do with the company's omission.

It's Pretty Waterproof, After All

Apple cautions that while users can wear and use the Watch during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, submerging the device is not recommended. However, a YouTube video from FoneFox, which tests Apple products, took the Watch for a plunge in the pool and found it to be fully functional after the dip.

(Image: iFixit)

(Image: iFixit)

Good luck using it underwater though -- the touchscreen had far less responsiveness below the surface, something the aqueous environment inhibits.

The Charger Can Juice Other Devices

Apple's charger is apparently based on the established Qi (inductive power) open standard, as an AppleInsider reader discovered when the magnetized charger starting juicing his Moto 360 smartwatch.

"That means it's likely that the Apple Watch itself could also be recharged with a Qi-compliant charging mat," AppleInsider wrote. "Such accessories are readily available, and even work with the iPhone with various third-party Qi accessories. "

Forget About Upgrades

The tiny components of the device made the iFixit team's teardown particularly challenging. The Watch employs very small Tri-wing screws and a host of miniaturized pieces, some that led the well-equipped team into serious difficulty.

[Read about the Apple Watch's toughness.]

"Despite rumors (and hopes) of an upgradable product, the difficulty of removing the S1 alone casts serious doubt on the idea of simply swapping out the internals," the iFixIt team wrote in their teardown. "Like everything else in this device, it's tiny."

It Really Is Tough To Select The Right App

As many had speculated, and as USA Today's Jefferson Graham highlighted in his review, the relatively tiny face of the Watch and an ecosystem of apps is going to be a tough match. Among his numerous grumblings about the complexity of the device, Graham explains selecting the right app on the first try was a frustrating experience.

Apple's Sales Strategy Is Providing Possible Cover

We've long known that Apple won't initially be selling the smartwatch in its own brick and mortar stores -- though the device is available for purchase through its online store. Famous for its product launches that draw around-the-block lines upon debut, Apple decided to avoid that media pressure, and it seems to have paid off -- the launch still dominated the press, and there were no bad optics.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio
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