The Main Features and Innovations of the Apple Smart Watches

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Here it is. It's the new Apple Watch Series 5. It's-- you know what, it's great. I've used a lot of different smartwatches in my life, and this one is the best. If you have an iPhone and you can afford the $399 starting price, there is nothing better. So, like, I know. I gave away the whole review at the top of the post. But keep reading because I do want to tell you what's new in the Series 5 and also what's new in watchOS 6, but I also want to see if we can just figure out why no other smartwatch is even close to catching up to this. All right. So, what is new with the Series 5, at least, compared to the Series 4 from last year? Honestly, it's not that much, just three things, really. Okay, well, four if you count that Apple's offering more material options for the casing. You can get it in aluminum, steel, titanium, and ceramic. This one is aluminum, and physically, it's identical to the Series 4, which was already great. They have larger screens than the older models of the Apple Watch, and the screen is the second thing that's really new with the Series 5. It's always on. Finally. See, both the Series 5, and actually the Series 4, have a special kind of OLED screen that Apple developed. It's a low temperature, polycrystalline oxide, or LTPO for short. What does that mean? Well, it means, like, pixel and screen stuff like electron mobility.

What really matters is that the Series 5 has a bunch of other chips that let it have a variable screen refresh rate, so the Series 5 can change the pixels on the screen as often as 60 times a second or as little as once per second. That lets this use radically less power than other screens. You know, your watch doesn't need to be refreshing that often when it's just sitting there in ambient mode, and that saves battery life. So now, instead of the screen just being off, it shows a dimmed version of your watch face, and it actually even still has some color, which other smartwatches don't do. And, of course, when you raise your wrist up, it goes ooh, full color, just like any other Apple Watch. But all this means is you can check the time without being, you know, that jerk who obviously looks at his watch in the middle of a conversation with somebody. Now, the big question is does that always-on screen hurt the battery life? And my answer is that it doesn't seem to hurt much. Apple claims that this still gets the same 18 hours of battery life that every Apple Watch is supposed to get. And it does for me, even with kind of heavy usage. But it doesn't get much more than that. Last year, Series 4 actually outperformed that 18-hour claim. Bottom line, you should plan on charging the Apple Watch every day.

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And yes, I know that there are smartwatches that last weeks or even months, but none of them can do what the Apple Watch can. The third new thing is a built-in compass, and it works well and even gives you this neat thing called a confidence cone that gets narrower as it becomes more confident in where north is exactly. Now, if you have a magnetic watch band, that can mess with it a bit, but, you know, magnets. That's how they work. The fourth new thing is that there are more cellular bands on the cellular version, which means that it can do emergency calling internationally. Now, you should know that doesn't mean that it'll work for regular cell phone Apple Watch stuff, though. Apple still needs to make carrier deals for that to work. So, new materials, always-on screen, compass, and international emergency calling. All in all, that's a really minor update, but you know what? It doesn't matter because the Apple Watch is so far ahead of the competition. I think there's a few reasons for that. One is the processor. Apple is just way better at making processors for smartwatches than anybody else.

Another is integration. Apple lets the Apple Watch do Apple stuff with the Apple iPhone that it won't let other companies like Fitbit or Wear OS or Samsung or Withings do, like replying to iMessages. Only the Apple Watch can do that. But also, watchOS is just really good. The new version here is watchOS 6, and it's gonna land on every Apple Watch except the very, very first one. Now, inside this, there are new watch faces, as usual. I like that you can set more of them to just be a single color. I do wish that there were more watch faces, or, really, that there were third-party options. I could get a pretty good face on this watch, but I can't get the perfect watch face for me. The biggest new feature in watchOS is the App Store, which lets you install apps without having to, you know, pull out your phone, except for the first time that you use the App Store on the Apple Watch, where you have to enter your password on your phone. And then sometimes, you install apps on the Apple Watch, and it needs its, like, parent app on the phone in order to work for the first time. It's not completely independent yet, is what I'm saying. Now, it is nice to be able to install an app in a pinch directly on your watch, I guess, but this big-deal feature is not really a big deal to me. Maybe when the Apple Watch gets a little bit more independent from the iPhone, it'll matter more.

Then there's the cycles app, which lets you log and track menstrual activity. Now, this app isn't for me, but I will say that I wish Apple had paid more attention to women's health sooner. Still, though, talking to people at Apple, it's clear that they put some care into this app. It's scientifically cautious, and it's thoughtful in its design. So, it could help you track information that could be useful for you or for your doctor. But look, fertility can be a really hard thing, so if you're using it with kids in mind, you should talk to your doctor before doing anything with the information that it provides. Let's see. What else? Siri. Siri is here, and it can identify songs. It can also bring up search results from the web and lets you click into the webpages. And my favorite thing ever with the Apple Watch is still that you can load little tiny, itty bitty webpages on it. It's kind of fun. Oh, one other thing. There is an option for the watch to detect ambient noise levels and warn you if it's too loud for safety over a long period of time, plus I just like watching the noise meter go up and down. It proves to me that the train that I ride every day is too damn loud. The main thing that's missing for me is sleep tracking, which for me and my health is much more important than closing a standing ring or whatever. There are third-part apps, though. I use C++, but it seems like a pretty obvious thing for Apple to add next year. Okay, so, why is the Apple Watch so far ahead? It's not that it has an LTPO screen or a noise meter or really any one of the features that I just mentioned in this review.

It's the fact that I'm talking about features in this way at all. With every other smartwatch, and I'm not talking about the Garmin, Wilderness, Hiking, Sporting, Mountaineering, whatever watches. I mean, like, wrist computers. With those things, I usually have to check whether it can last more than 12 hours or whether it can open apps in less than 10 seconds or respond to a text message or if the software is buggy as hell. All that stuff was actually pretty bad in the very first Apple Watch, but it quickly got turned around, so now, Apple gets to work on filling out more advanced features. It's like the Apple Watch is in high school and is taking AP courses while everybody else is repeating the seventh grade for the third time. Sure, the Apple Watch hasn't reached anything close to its full potential yet, but right now, this thing is an overachiever.

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