So, does it fulfill all our hopes and dreams for a smartwatch? When we already have handheld computers that do an awful lot, does Apple Watch add enough to make you want to drop $349?
We won't have concrete answers for a while, since its not available until early 2015. But it's interesting to think about. What would it take for you to buy a computer that you'd strap to your wrist?
Local tech enthusiasts discussed that at a Mobile Twin Cities group gathering the evening before Apple's big announcement. In a room with 20 tech savvy people, only a couple had purchased one of the existing smartwatches on the market. (Here's a nice side-by-side comparison of Apple Watch and some of its competitors.)
What made them hesitate? Price. Concerns about battery life and the hassle of charging. Durability. Doubts that a smartwatch can do that much more than a smartphone already does.
Nevermind that a large chunk of the population ditched their watches in favor of using smartphones to keep track of time. There's this idea (in the tech community, anyway) that the watch is where it's at.
Greg Swan, senior vice president for digital strategy at Weber Shandwick, pointed out that the smartwatch has been a cultural touchstone for decades. Dick Tracy, James Bond, the Jetsons, Penny from the Inspector Gadget cartoons. They all had smartwatches.
"We have this amazing dream and this cultural vision of what we expect watches to do," said Swan, who started the discussion with a presentation, "Smartwatches: Past, Present and Future."
And the group had plenty of thoughts about potential uses. Smartwatches as a way to keep tabs on kids or the elderly. Smartwatches for healthy lifestyles and medical records. Smartwatches as remote controls for connected homes.
Back to the original question: Is Apple offering something that fulfills those wishes? From one angle, perhaps -- mobile payments.
Apple Pay is the mobile payment system for both Apple Watch and the two new iPhones that uses near field communication (NFC). Wave your watch in front of a device at the checkout counter and be on your way, no need to dig a credit card or smartphone out of your purse. Is the mobile wallet that's long been discussed going mainstream?
After watching the Apple announcement, Swan put it this way: "The ability for consumers to pay for goods and services via phone or watch isn't new, but with today's Apple Pay announcement, it's no longer niche."
Brooks Goldade, vice president for client strategy at Nina Hale Inc., was also impressed by the move toward mobile payments. But he pointed out that it might still take some consumer convincing, especially if there are glitches.
"If you're buying gas at Holiday, you can't say, 'Sorry, my phone's not connecting properly, can I get you later?'" he said. "They have to work 100 percent of the time."