Apple, which once put a U2 album on everyone's iTunes without asking, announced the release date for its much anticipated Apple Watch yesterday. The device is a smartwatch, so sort of like a phone, but with a much smaller screen. And you wear it on your wrist.
According to some tech experts, “it’s not unreasonable to imagine a potential 90m Apple Watches on wrists globally by the end of 2016.” This is a message to those 90m people: don't do it. Please. There are better things to spend $17,000 (or £13,500 in the UK) on.
The Apple Watch falls perfectly into this category. Its use is best currently described as "it can do all the things your smartphone does, but on your wrist, and on a smaller screen." It can't actually work without an iPhone; it is a $17,000 iPhone accessory.
Worse than being useless, it may actually be inconvenient. Some early users have complained that the interface is not particularly intuitive, and takes a while to learn. The watch is meant to stay dark until the wearer raises her arm, and might require users to wave their arms around a lot.
Added to the social stigma associated with checking a watch, I can't see this waving requirement endearing many Apple Watch users to those around them. Imagine sitting in a meeting or on a date, waving your arm around for a bit, then casually looking at your watch to see whether you've got any emails. I think it's safe to say there may be some social teething problems.
The Apple Watch may not be that convenient when you're on your own either. It has an 18 hour battery life given a normal day's use, so you'll need to charge it every day (and the Apple page on battery life uses the phrase “actual results may vary” an awful lot). To charge it, you'll need a special cable that won't be compatible with anything else you own, and you'll have to carry it around with you too, unless all your friends have Apple Watches as well.
Buying the Apple Watch might also prove arduous. Before its release, it will be available by appointment to try on, and after release you will only be able to buy it in stores by reservation.
These minor inconveniences mask more insidious problems. A device that functions as a gatekeeper for people who receive too much information on their iPhones will inevitably encourage more information to be sent.
These dystopias are all in the future though. For now, the Apple Watch is a weird luxury, and the question remains: do you really want to pay $17,000 – or even $349 – to get more email?
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