TIME technology

Apple Watch: To Wear It Like a Man — or a God?

According to Apple, this is technology that 'embraces individuality and inspires desire.' What could possibly go wrong?

Technology keeps getting more and more personal. First “personal computers,” which sat on your desk, gave way to laptops, which sat in a rather more intimate position. Now laptops are giving way to tablets and phones, which nestle in your hand and slip into your pocket. And early next year, the Apple Watch will wrap around quite a few wrists, which it will tap gently to signal that a friend is calling or a message has arrived.

You could say the Apple Watch will be the ultimate personal computer, but more to the point, it is one of the first intimate computers. It promises to be with you every moment of the day (though it will part with you at night for recharging—such sweet sorrow), aware of your every motion, responsive to your touch. It will be close enough, Apple promises, to feel your heartbeat—and share that heartbeat, in a feature that is either sweet or slightly creepy, with a friend.

I think Sting sang about this kind of intimate watchfulness a generation ago: “Every move you make, every breath you take, I’ll be watching you.” Oh, that song was not so much sweet as slightly creepy? Well, it won’t feel that way with the Apple Watch—unlike Sting’s hovering would-be lover, it is watching you in order to serve you. After all, in the reverent tones of Sir Jony Ive, narrating the watch’s introductory video, this is technology that “embraces individuality and inspires desire.” What could possibly go wrong?

“Every sufficiently advanced technology,” in Arthur C. Clarke’s famous words, “is indistinguishable from magic.” So perhaps, as we take one more step toward intimacy with our devices, it’s worth remembering what human beings have always sought from magic. Central to the idea of magic is the idea of secret knowledge—of knowing something about the world, whether runes or potions or spells, that will give us mastery over it. Magic promises that there is a secret passage through the mystery of the world, a doorway that leads to control. Long before modern technology, human beings sought (and frequently claimed to have found) that door.

But there is something we yearn for even more powerfully than mastery over the world—we yearn to master ourselves. We are a great mystery to ourselves. For hours every night we sleep, slack and unaware. During the day we barely notice our heart’s perpetual rhythm and our chest’s rise and fall. What if we had access to magic that promised knowledge of the secrets of our bodies? What if, behind that promise of knowledge of our bodies, lurked magic’s other promise, the promise of control of them?

This is why the “killer app” for the next generation of devices is fitness. Now that phones accompany us almost everywhere, they have begun to count our steps. On my own iPhone is an app that lets me number my calories day-by-day and track my weight with previously unimaginable precision. How much more will we be able to know, and control, once we enter the age of intimate computing, with computers that know us better than we know ourselves?

All technology, like all magic before it, craves godlikeness. Technology pursues the classical divine attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence—knowing everything, being everywhere, being capable of anything. Technology, like magic, seems to possess these divine qualities, and it promises that with its help we can have them, too.

Indeed, there is a very old story, one of the founding myths of Western civilization, about the pursuit of knowledge that would lead to control. “You shall be like God.” “You shall not surely die.” Those were the two promises the serpent made on behalf of the fruit in the Bible’s opening pages, and we’ve been chasing those promises ever since. The two promises are linked: We believe that if we have knowledge, we will also have power. If we can escape our creaturely limits, we will also escape our creaturely fate.

It is perhaps worth pondering the fact that so far in human history, these promises have always failed—not just the man and the woman in the primordial garden, but all the various magicians and religions since. We have neither achieved godlikeness nor escaped our mortality. Will technology be the exception that proves the rule, the path to secret knowledge that actually does let us transcend our limits? Or will technology fail at making us like gods, eventually failing in the way all false gods fail, demanding more and more from us while delivering less and less, until eventually they demand everything while delivering nothing?

There is, in fact, a powerful counternarrative in Western culture, an ongoing protest against magic, that says that the knowledge we seek, and the control we yearn for, is not available to us. Which does not mean it does not exist. “You have searched me and known me,” one of these protesters wrote, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” The singer of this psalm was not addressing a device within his control, but a transcendent being beyond his ken, who nonetheless was closer than his own breath. The testimony of this counternarrative is that we are only fully ourselves when we acknowledge a greater reality beyond ourselves; that we gain dignity, rather than losing it, when we accept the limits of human knowledge—even knowledge of ourselves.

So there will be two ways to wear the new Apple Watch, and the even more powerful and intimate devices yet to come: to treat it like a tool, or to treat it like magic.

We can see this watch as just one more tool—one more way to move mindfully (and watchfully?) through an enduringly mysterious world. Not as a way to master ourselves or our surroundings, but as a way to be reminded of, and grounded in, our embodied limitations. One of Apple’s promotional images for the new Watch showed it reminding its owner to stand up and walk around after sitting too long (presumably in front of a screen). That’s the kind of simple, humbling prompt we human beings need.

Or we can indulge the hope that this device (or some new version just down the road) will free us from our limits—will help us know what we cannot know and avoid what we cannot avoid. Wear the Watch that way, and you’ll not only be disappointed—along the way you’ll miss much of what actually makes life worth living.

As with all technology, the choice with the Apple Watch will come down to this: to wear it like a human being, or wear it like a god.

Andy Crouch is author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. He is the executive editor of Christianity Today.

TIME Books

9 Ugly Lessons About Sex From Big Data

Dataclysm
Dataclysm Courtesy Random House

Christian Rudder, author of Dataclysm and a founder of OkCupid, dives into the numbers and surfaces with some revelations on love, sex, race and culture

Big Data: the friend you met at a bar after your usual two drinks, plus one. You leaned in, listening more intently than usual. “Digital footprint.” “Information Age.” You nodded and smiled, even though you didn’t understand. “Change the world.” “The future.” You were impressed—and even if you weren’t, you faked it well.

Come morning, you have only fuzzy recollections of Big Data, its tag lines and buzzwords. You also find it vaguely reprehensible.

If you’re still up for it, there’s another side of Big Data you haven’t seen—not the one that promised to use our digital world to our advantage to optimize, monetize, or systematize every last part our lives. It’s the big data that rears its ugly head and tells us what we don’t want to know. And that, as Christian Rudder demonstrates in his new book, Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), is perhaps an equally worthwhile pursuit. Before we heighten the human experience, we should understand it first.

Rudder, a co-founder of OkCupid and Harvard-educated data scientist, analyzed millions of records and drew on related research to understand on how we search and scramble for love. But the allure of Rudder’s work isn’t that the findings are particularly shocking. Instead, the insights are ones that most of us would prefer not to think about: a racial bias against black women and Asian men, or how “gay” is the top Google Search suggestion for “Is my husband… .”

READ MORE This App Can Tell If You’ve Been Naughty or Nice Based on Your Tweets

Here are 9 revelations about sex and dating, courtesy of Rudder, Dataclysm, and, of course, big data.

1. Straight men think women have an expiration date.

Although women tend to seek men around their age, men of all ages are by far looking for women in their early 20s, according to OkCupid data. While men often set their age filters for women into the 30s and beyond, rarely do they contact a woman over 29.

2. Straight women are far less likely to express sexual desire than are other demographics.

On OkCupid, 6.1% of straight men are explicitly looking for casual sex. For gay men, it’s 6.9%, and for lesbians, 6.9%. For straight women, it’s only 0.8%.

3. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Like any good data scientist, Rudder lets literature—in this case, Thoreau—explain the human condition. Rudder cites a Google engineer who found that searches for “depictions of gay men” (by which the engineer meant gay porn) occur at the rate of 5% across every state, roughly the proportion of the world’s population that social scientists have estimated to be gay. So if a poll shows you that, for instance, 1% of a state’s population is gay, the other 4% is probably still out there.

READ MORE These 4 Things Kill Relationships

4. Searches for “Is my husband gay?” occur in states where gay marriage is least accepted.

Here’s a Big Data nugget you can see for yourself: Type “Is my husband” in Google, and look at your first result. Rudder notes that this search is most common in South Carolina and Louisiana, two states with some of the lowest same-sex marriage approval rates.

5. According to Rudder’s research, Asian men are the least desirable racial group to women…

On OkCupid, users can rate each other on a 1 to 5 scale. While Asian women are more likely to give Asian men higher ratings, women of other races—black, Latina, white—give Asian men a rating between 1 and 2 stars less than what they usually rate men. Black and Latin men face similar discrimination from women of different respective races, while white men’s ratings remain mostly high among women of all races.

6. …And black women are the least desirable racial group to men.

Pretty much the same story. Asian, Latin and white men tend to give black women 1 to 1.5 stars less, while black men’s ratings of black women are more consistent with their ratings of all races of women. But women who are Asian and Latina receive higher ratings from all men—in some cases, even more so than white women.

7. Users who send copy-and-paste messages get responses more efficiently.

OkCupid tracks how many characters users type in messages versus how many letters are actually sent. (For most users, it’s three characters typed for every one character sent.) In doing this analysis, Rudder found that up to 20% of users managed to send thousands of characters with 5 keystrokes or less—likely Control+C, Control+V, Enter. A little more digging showed that while from-scratch messages performed better by 25%, copy-and-paste messages received more replies per unit of effort.

READ MORE 10 Rules You Need to Know to Communicate Effectively

8. Your Facebook Likes reveal can reveal your gender, race, sexuality and political views.

A group of UK researchers found that based on someone’s Facebook Likes alone, they can tell if a user is gay or straight with 88% accuracy; lesbian or straight, 75%; white or black, 95%; man or woman, 93%; Democrat or Republican, 85%.

9. Vermont doesn’t shower a whole lot, relatively speaking.

Rudder has doled out some heavy info to ponder, so here’s some that’s a little lighter: in general, according to his research, in states where it’s hotter, people shower more; where it’s colder, people shower less. Still, the Northeast is relatively well-washed. Except, that is, for Vermont. Rudder has no idea why. Do you?

 

Rudder has a few takeaways from beyond the realm of love, too…

— On an insignificant July morning, Mitt Romney gained 20,000 Twitter followers within a few minutes.

Rudder dives further into social media data to show that Mitt Romney gained 18,860 new followers at 8 a.m. on July 22, 2012. Nothing particularly interesting happened on that day, and that spike in followers was about 200 times what he was getting immediately before and after. The secret? Likely purchasing followers. And Romney isn’t the only politician to do so—it’s a common practice, Rudder says, as we seek to strengthen our “personal brands.”

— Obama’s election and inauguration caused a massive spike in Google searches for “n-gger.”

According to Google Search data, search volume for “n-gger” more than doubled when Obama was elected in Nov. 2008, then fell rapidly within one month. When Obama was inaugurated in Jan. 2009, it similarly spiked, and then immediately fell. We don’t have national conversations on race, Rudder suggests, just national convulsions.

TIME Apple

iPhone 6: 8 Reasons to Buy, 6 Reasons to Wait

Do you really need one of Apple's bigger iPhones? These 14 pros and cons should help you decide.

Apple just made it a lot harder to pick an iPhone.

The company recently introduced not one, but two new iPhones: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which you can order on September 12, and pick up when they go on sale September 19.

But with the iPhone 5c and 5s still formally in the running and price-reduced, that means you now have four iPhones to choose from. What’s more, the spectrum of features keeps growing, making that choice about as involved as it’s ever been.

I’m just going to focus on the new iPhones, though if you want to scan our iPhone 5s rundown from last September, you can find that here.

On your mark, get set…pros!

Reasons to Buy

The return of curves (assuming you like curves)

Remember the original iPhone way back when? That thing, you probably forgot, had a half-curved edge (from the back) before Apple shifted to a frame nearer hard right angles.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are like that original frame, but more holistically executed: what Apple calls “a continuous, seamless design,” meaning the surface is texturally unbroken, and the cover glass (“ion-strengthened,” referring to a process in which one type of ion is exchanged for another to make the glass more durable) meets the anodized aluminum backing without tactile differentiation.

Apple adds that these are its thinnest iPhones yet, with thicknesses of 0.27 inches (the iPhone 6) and 0.28 inches (the iPhone 6 Plus). That’s hair-splitting: the iPhone 5s is only fractionally thicker at 0.30 inches, and good luck discerning hundredths of an inch. But I suppose it gives Apple’s marketing team another bragging point.

The new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch higher-resolution displays

Apple calls the iPhone 6’s new 4.7- and 5.5-inch diagonal screens “Retina HD displays.” That’s a marketing term and something of a misnomer: a tautological way of talking about technology that’s already outpaced your eye’s ability to spot discrete pixels.

But for those that like bigger numbers, the displays are notably higher resolution: 1334 by 750 pixels (326 pixels per inch, or over one million pixels, a tick higher than 720p) for the iPhone 6 and 1920 by 1080 pixels (401 pixels per inch, or over two million pixels, and native 1080p) for the iPhone 6 Plus. The new screens also have broader viewing angles, says Apple, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have dramatically higher 1400:1 and 1300:1 contrast ratios, respectively, compared with the 4-inch 1136 by 640 pixels (326 pixels per inch) screen with 800:1 contrast ratio found on past models.

Size-wise, the new screens make these significantly bigger phones overall, which I’m putting in the pro and con column depending on your smartphone-versus-phablet proclivities: 6.22 inches high by 3.06 inches wide (the iPhone 6 Plus) and 5.44 inches high by 2.64 inches wide (the iPhone 6), compared with the iPhone 5s’s 4.87 inches high by 2.31 inches wide.

What about older apps? Apple claims they scale up to the new resolutions just fine. We’ll see. Generally speaking, scaling’s less of an issue on screens this dimensionally small. Interpolation, which is what scalers do to fill in missing pixel data, is a problem more when you’re dealing with much bigger display spaces, say the troublesome blurriness you get running Nintendo’s Wii at 640 by 480 pixels (480p) out to a giant 50- or 60-inch 1920 by 1080 pixel (1080p) screen.

Apple’s also throwing in a new “landscape view” unique to the iPhone 6 Plus, so if you want to view traditionally portrait-locked apps sideways, the new landscape view lets you tap around the home screen’s rows of icons sideways, and adds functionality (like side-by-side panes, as well as a bigger keyboard) to apps that have been optimized for it. In other words, as The Verge put it during its Apple event live blog, it’s a little like an iPad Mini Mini.

The new phones have even zippier processors

Meet the A8 chip, Apple’s second-gen 64-bit offering with some 2 billion transistors, which Apple describes as sporting “up to 25% faster processing power and up to 50% faster graphics.” If you’re after some of the fastest phablets on the planet, the new iPhones are probably going to rank at the front of the pack.

Battery life is slightly to significantly better

The iPhone 6 Plus has a larger battery, which lends it the ability to do up to 80 hours of audio (versus 60 for the iPhone 6 and 50 for the iPhone 5s), 14 hours of video (11 and 10 for the iPhone 6 and 5s respectively), an hour or two more than the iPhone 6 and 5s when browsing over Wi-Fi, LTE and 3G, up to 24 hours of talk time over 3G (versus 14 and 10 for the iPhone 6 and 5s respectively) and 16 days of standby (versus just 10 days for both the iPhone 6 and 5s).

All the new tech tweaks, especially to the cameras

The new iPhones now include a barometer (to check air pressure and measure elevation — important for the new Health app in iOS 8), 802.11ac support (theoretically up to three times faster than the iPhone 5s’s 802.11n), a new M8 motion coprocessor (the iPhone 5c uses the M7) and a new Wi-Fi calling option, “for making high-quality calls when cell conditions are poor.”

But the coolest-sounding improvements are clearly to the iSight and FaceTime cameras. The 1080p iSight camera in both phones is still 8MP with 1.5µ pixels and ƒ/2.2 aperture (just like the iPhone 5s’s), but includes a new sensor that supports an autofocus-enhancing feature called “Focus Pixels” found in high-end DSLR cameras. Apple says autofocus is much faster (and continuous — important for video), local tone mapping and noise reduction have been improved, you can shoot video at 30 or 60 frames per second and take slo-mo video at both 120 and 240 frames per second. The cameras also include video stabilization (and the iPhone 6 Plus specifically includes optical as opposed to digital image stabilization, meaning the lens moves to compensate for shaking), and the new phones can identify faces (and blinking, and smiling) more efficiently whether close up or further away. What’s more, your panorama shots can be up to a whopping 43 megapixels now.

The still-720p, 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera has been upgraded, too, with a new sensor and larger ƒ/2.2 aperture, bringing it up to par with the iSight in that regard. It can also do automatic high dynamic range in videos (the iPhone 5s only supports this in photo mode) and has a “burst” mode, which Apple says will let you take up to 10 photos (or selfies) a second.

The new iPhones can finally talk and chew data at the same time

Apple’s best iPhones until today could do up to 100 Mbps LTE with 13 bands. The new iPhones can do up to 150Mbps, supports 20 bands (more than any other smartphone, claims Apple) and more than 200 LTE carriers worldwide.

More importantly, the new phones support “Voice over LTE,” or VoLTE. If you want a more detailed explanation of what VoLTE is, see here. But in summary, so long as your LTE carrier supports it, expect improved voice audio quality, and that you’ll no longer see your voice call connection throw your data link under the bus.

You want to pay for stuff with your phone

Apple Pay, which is what Apple’s calling its new pay-with-your-phone service, is Apple’s bid to make cash, checks and plastic credit cards obsolete by coupling the new iPhones’ NFC antennas with a TouchID fingerprint sensor. Imagine walking up to some store’s cashwrap, holding your phone near a sensor and simply fingering the TouchID button to make the transaction. Apple says it’s really that simple, and that it’ll support Visa, MasterCard and American Express at launch.

We’re talking about a highly theoretical pro, bear that in mind, and plenty of other companies have tried and fumbled with digital wallets. But if it works as simply and securely as Apple says, including the company’s provocative claim that Apple Pay is more secure than keeping cards in your wallet, it could be the deal-clincher many have been waiting for. I’m loathe to posit cliches about Apple being more likely to pull something like this off than any other big company with a compelling idea, but to the extent economic and political cachet matters, Apple still has it.

You get more storage for your buck

Recent iPhones have scaled from 16GB to 32GB to 64GB at $100 price intervals from a base of $199. The new iPhones still scale at $100 intervals, but jump from 16GB to 64GB, then up to 128GB. That means you’re getting 32GB more for the same relative price via the midrange model, and 64GB more for the high-end model.

Okay, that’s the feature-related pros list out of the way. Here’s why you might want to wait:

Reasons to Wait

These are big phones

Not ridiculously big, say like Sony’s 6.4-inch diagonal Xperia Z Ultra, but still big for iPhone owners who, even after Apple’s 0.5-inch iPhone 5 uptick years ago (from the original models’ 3.5-inch diagonal screens), have been accustomed to holding a slender device, width-wise.

If you’re no fan of phablets (or the idea of phablets, if you’ve never held one), you might want to wait to pull the trigger on a preorder and heft one of the new iPhones for yourself, just to be sure.

Apple’s flagship iPhone is $100 more expensive than usual

The starter 16GB iPhone 6 is $199 with a standard two-year contract, just like prior flagship iPhones at launch. But the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus — and let’s not mince words: that’s the model 4-inch iPhone upgraders are going to want — is $299.

If you just want an iPhone that’ll run iOS 8 seamlessly, offers all the basic features and plenty of the advanced features found in the new iPhones, and actually prefer thinner 4-inch smartphones, the 16GB iPhone 5s is now just $99, and the 8GB iPhone 5c is free (both with two-year contracts).

The new processor’s pushing a lot of pixels around

Bear in mind that a lot of the A8’s processing horsepower has to go toward animating all those extra pixels in both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (processing overhead increases exponentially as you scale up, pixel-wise). In practice, it probably means games for the new phones are going to look roughly the same as the sort of games you’re already playing on your other 64-bit iOS devices, complexity-wise. “Metal,” Apple’s better-optimized developmental 3D interface for iOS, is supposed to change that somewhat, but not just for A8.

Also, don’t get confused by claims about the iPhone 6 Plus playing games at “higher” resolutions than next-generation consoles (higher PPIs, yes, higher resolutions, no): 1080p is the PlayStation 4’s lingua franca (the iPhone 6 Plus tops out at 1080p, and the iPhone 6 at just above 720p).

More importantly, who cares? At 401 or 326 pixels per inch on incredibly small screens when compared to TVs, games with half the graphical bells and whistles tend to look just as good as games on high-end PCs or consoles. It’s a “how much detail can your eye differentiate at 4.7 to 5.5 inches diagonal” thing.

You want an iWatch but don’t need a new iPhone

The iWatch, which requires the iPhone, starts at $349 and goes up from there, so buying an iWatch and an iPhone 6 (much less an iPhone 6 Plus) is going to set you back quite a bit more than you might otherwise have budgeted for just a phone.

The good news: so long as you have an iPhone 5 or better, you can use Apple’s new iWatch when it arrives sometime in “early 2015.”

Apple Pay

Apple was just involved in a public kerfuffle involving the theft of sensitive photos from various high-profile personalities’ iCloud accounts. What technically happened and who’s technically responsible is debatable, but it hasn’t helped the company’s image from a consumer confidence standpoint.

Apple has a point when it claims, in theory, that Apple Pay ought to be more secure than cards in your wallet. In practice, however, it’s a giant question mark. So if you’d rather wait for competent security firms to weigh in (there’s nothing wrong or unduly paranoid about that), you can pull Apple Pay out of the “pro-new-iPhone” column.

Your contract’s not up

Welcome to my world (I have to wait until October to buy one of these things). Do you have three to four times the contract price lying around to pay in full for the 16 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus? Neither do I.

TIME Companies

Watch the Apple Products Launch in Less Than 2 Minutes

Apple fans and engineers gathered in Cupertino, Calif., for a hotly anticipated announcement Tuesday, which turned out to include not only the latest version of the iPhone (the iPhone 6), plus a larger version (the iPhone 6 Plus), but the much-rumored Apple Watch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also took the opportunity to reveal the new mobile payment system Apple Pay.

Check out the best of the hip tech event in under two minutes.

TIME Music

Bono On U2’s Not-So-Free iTunes Album: “We Were Paid”

Apple Event
Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, greets Bono from the band U2 after they preformed at the end of the Apple event on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez—AP

Giving away Songs of Innocence wasn't some grand gesture—it was business

Now the secret is out—and distributed. For the more than half a billion iTunes subscribers, the new U2 album will be arriving in their iTunes libraries. But why did U2 decide to release Songs of Innocence in this way?

In the green room after the Apple iPhone 6 and Watch launch at Cupertino’s Flint Center, there were clues. Bono stood with one arm around Apple design honcho Jony Ive—who Bono met in 2004, when U2 collaborated on a special edition (RED) iPod—and another around superstar Australian designer Marc Newson, who Ive recently hired to amp up Apple’s industrial aesthetic. Bono describes the trio as the “three amigos” and compares the budding partnership between Apple’s key designers to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones joining forces. But although the bond between the band and Apple—including ties to Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine, who produced two U2 albums and recently sold his Beats company to Apple—goes back a decade and helped to seal the deal, there were also sound business reasons behind it. And, because Bono is involved, a campaigning zeal too.

“The charts are broken,” he says. The old music industry has reached a low point and hasn’t kept up with the digital world. He wants to see artists’ reach measured by how much they’re listened to, by whatever medium or method.

But releasing the album free to iTunes subscribers does not mean the band has given the album away. “We were paid,” Bono tells TIME. “I don’t believe in free music. Music is a sacrament.”

Amen.

He won’t divulge what Apple shelled out for Songs of Innocence. Whatever the sum, it’s a gift to listeners.

TIME video

The New iPhones and Apple Watch (in Two Minutes)

The rumors panned out pretty well: Apple rolled out two new iPhones and its first smartwatch.

Click here for more Apple coverage.

TIME Gadgets

Hands On With the New Apple Watch

There’s a lot we don’t know about Apple Watch, the technology giant’s all-new wearable gadget announced Tuesday to great fanfare in Cupertino, Calif. How long will its battery last? How much will the toniest version cost? How exactly will it interface with the iPhone?

But, having gotten to wear and play with the device, one thing is for certain: The Apple Watch is a beautifully designed piece of technology with enormous potential. In fact, I’d say it’s the most exciting gadget since the iPad, from Apple or any other company.

The watch will come in two sizes, 1.5 inches (38 mm) and 1.65 inches (42 mm), and a surprisingly wide variety of colors and styles. Both sizes feel surprisingly light and solid. An Apple representative would not say how much the watch weighs exactly, but it seems lighter than Samsung’s Gear, which is about 60 grams.

It sits on the wrist very naturally. I have what might be called dainty wrists for a man, and even the larger version didn’t feel bulky. Unlike smartwatches currently on the market, it does not feel overly showy or intrusive, constantly begging for your attention. You could easily forget you are wearing the Apple Watch, and you will.

The Apple Watch’s sapphire touchscreen is slightly curved, which makes the device look more like a piece of jewelry. The screen, which was crisp and viewable from a wide range of angles, is flush with the rest of the device’s body. It attracts a lot of finger prints and smudges.

CEO Tim Cook and design chief Jonathan Ive spent a good deal of the presentation talking about the small nub of the watch called the “digital crown.” It allows you to zoom in and out of the interface and scroll through lists without obscuring the screen. The dial felt solid to the touch and scrolled with very little resistance, though on my unit it was disabled.

The bands are a surprisingly exciting part of the equation. They feature a design that is intended to make it easy to swap in and out, though I didn’t see this demonstrated in person. One of the models I played with had a flexible, leather band with built-in magnets. It felt a lot like toying with the iPad’s Smart Cover, except much more supple. It was very comfortable, as was a metal version.

In short, there is more to like here than any smartwatch yet. That isn’t saying much, though, considering how limited most of those products have been. There seemed to be hiccups in the software here and there. The gadget’s screen is supposed to distinguish between a tap and a more insistent press. But the so-called “force touch” glitched on more than one of the demo units I used. Of course, the devices on display were pre-production models.

In his keynote presentation, Cook said the Apple Watch represents many years of “deep innovation.” It also represents a bundle of promises and questions. The Apple Watch will be available starting at $349 early next year. We’ll have to wait until 2015 to get all the answers.

TIME Innovation

Apple Watch: We Are Now Literally Handcuffed To Our Computers

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple's watch could be as revolutionary as the first clocks

Many of us already feel as if we’re handcuffed to our computers. With its new smart watch, unveiled today in California, Apple is hoping to turn that figure of speech into a literal truth.

Apple has a lot riding on the diminutive gadget. It’s the first major piece of hardware the company has rolled out since the iPad made its debut four years ago. It’s the first new product to be designed under the purview of fledgling CEO Tim Cook. And, when it goes on sale early next year, it will be Apple’s first entry in a much-hyped product category—wearable computers—that has so far fallen short of expectations. Jocks and geeks seem eager to strap computers onto their bodies. The rest of us have yet to be convinced.

Apple has some experience in taking a lackluster new product and turning it into a must-have for the masses. When it released its iPod in 2001, there were already plenty of MP3 players on the market. None of them, though, had garnered much interest. The iPod, with its simple interface and copious capacity, broke the market open—and revolutionized the music business in the process. With the elegantly designed, eye-catching Apple Watch, the company is hoping to pull off a similar feat for wearables.

But there’s a bigger story here. If the Apple Watch proves popular, it will not just mark “the next chapter in Apple’s story,” as Cook described it. It will change our relationship to computers, weaving the already ubiquitous devices and their apps even more deeply into the fabric of our lives. The personal and social ramifications could be far-reaching.

For a precedent, we need only look back to the development of the last great arm-mounted technology: the wristwatch. The early history of time-keeping machines bears a striking resemblance to the recent evolution of digital computers. Both are stories, at a technical level, of miniaturization and personalization, and both reveal how changes in the design of a common technology can alter not only its function but also the way it influences personal behavior and social norms.

Mechanical clocks started out as large, institutional machines. Installed in cathedrals and town halls, they were the mainframes of their time, and they had a profound effect on the way people lived. Time, which had previously been experienced as a natural, cyclical flow, began to be experienced as a succession of discrete, precisely measurable units. Hours, minutes, and seconds ticked away with industrial exactitude, and people quickly adapted themselves to the new, martial rhythm. Society became more productive and predictable as well as more regimented.

That was just the start. As inventors discovered ways to build smaller, less expensive clocks, the devices moved into people’s homes in the form of wall clocks and floor clocks — the equivalent of the bulky desktop PC that in the 1980s became a fixture of the modern home. With further engineering breakthroughs, clock mechanisms continued to shrink, leading to the creation of the pocket watch. People started carrying time-keeping machines around with them all day, just as we do with our smartphones.

Then, finally, came the wristwatch. People no longer had to pull their time-keeping machines out of their pockets to consult them. The technology was now always in view, becoming, in effect, an extension of the human body. Affixed to the wrist, the watch, as the late historian David Landes explained in his book Revolution in Time, became “an ever-visible, ever-audible companion and monitor.” By continually reminding its wearer of “time used, time spent, time wasted, time lost,” it served as both “prod and key to personal achievement and productivity.” The wristwatch, Landes argued, played a major role in spreading the ethic of individualism throughout Western culture.

At $349, the Apple Watch is pricey, and the device’s success remains uncertain. It does seem likely, though, that the gadget’s arrival will open yet another chapter in the story of personal computing. The watch, as today’s demos revealed, is the most solicitous computer yet. It taps you on the wrist whenever a new message or alert comes in. It formulates answers to questions you receive from friends. It reminds you where you parked your car. It tracks your health. It even allows you to broadcast your heartbeat to others.

That’s all very exciting, but some wariness is in order. As the history of clocks reveals, strapping a technological companion and monitor onto your wrist can alter, in ways that are hard to foresee, life’s textures and rhythms. And never before have we had a tool that promises to be so intimate a companion and so diligent a monitor as the Apple Watch.

Nicholas Carr is the author of the forthcoming book The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.

TIME Gadgets

Apple Watch: 10 Things to Know

It's coming out early next year

The rumors were true—Apple is indeed releasing a smartwatch. The Apple Watch (sorry, “iWatch” fans) will be the first big new product line Apple has introduced since the iPad in 2010, and the first under the leadership of Tim Cook as CEO.

Like the iPad, iPhone and iWatch before it, the Apple Watch will enter a market where other tech companies have tried and failed to reach a mass audience. As with those earlier products, Apple hopes that a mixture of sleek hardware design and easy-to-use software will convince millions to buy a device they never even knew they needed.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Apple Watch:

You Need an iPhone to Use It

Like many smartwatches, the Apple Watch is meant to be used in conjunction with a smartphone. Think of it as as an easier-to-reach display that can relay information from your phone—when someone sends you a text, for instance, the Apple Watch can display the message on its screen for easier access. Though the watch was unveiled along with the iPhone 6, it will also be compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

It’s Expensive and It Won’t Be Out Soon

Shocker—Apple is introducing a gadget at the very high end of the category’s price range. The Apple Watch’s retail price will start at $349 when it launches early next year. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear retailed for $299 last fall, while the Kickstarter-funded Pebble smartwatch costs $150. Apple products typically sell at a premium, which helps the company maintain its huge margins.

It Has Animated Emojis

Everyone’s favorite yellow emoticons will have more verve on the Apple Watch. Users will be able to customize the facial expressions of emojis by touching different portions of the figure’s face. For instance, users can touch the emoji’s mouth to widen its smile or tap its eyebrows to raise them higher. The 3D figures spring to life before being texted off to a friend also using an Apple Watch. The redesigned emojis are a way to compensate for the fact that the Apple Watch screen is prohibitively small for sending traditional text message to friends. In addition to animated emojis, Apple Watch will analyze incoming texts and present a selection of potential responses that might make sense in context. Users can also use the phone’s microphones to dictate text.

It’s Compatible With Apple Pay

The new device is part of Apple’s broader scheme to replace your physical credit card through Apple Pay, a service that allows people to buy products through the press of a button on their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch. Utilizing Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the devices will be able to communicate with payment systems at participating retailers using credit card information they already have tied to their iTunes accounts.

So far, McDonald’s, Staples, and Macy’s are among the companies that have agreed to accept Apple Pay.

It’s Using the Watch Dial in a Creative Way

The iPod’s click wheel was an innovation that simplified the chore of navigating through a thousand songs on an MP3 player. Apple hopes it’s hit on similar design magic by turning the traditional watch dial—now the “Digital Crown,” in Apple PR-speak—into a button that can be used to navigate the watch face. Through the dial, users will be able to zoom in and out on the screen, as well as scroll up and down, without obscuring the watch’s small surface. It also serves as the home button and the way to call up Siri, who will return as the Apple Watch’s digital assistant.

It’s Got a Boatload of Fitness Features

Fitness apps are seen as key to gaining a foothold in the wearables market. At the Apple Watch unveiling, Apple heavily promoted the ability of the watch to be a personal trainer as well as a communications device. The Apple Watch will use an accelerometer and GPS technology to constantly track the activities of its wearer, whether he or she is jogging, cycling or on a leisurely walk. The watch will also encourage users to meet basic fitness standards like standing up a bit during each hour and getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

It Has Three Different Models in Two Sizes

The Apple Watch will come in three different styles. There’s the basic Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, which will have a sweat-resistant wrist strap and the Apple Watch Edition, which will come in an 18-karat gold watch case. All of them will be available in two different sizes of either 38 mm or 42 mm for the watch face. The watches will all be customisable with easily changeable wrist straps. Expect these colorful straps to become the iPhone cases of the wearables era.

You Can Send Someone Your Heartbeat

Apple spent a lot of time at its press event talking about how the Apple Watch is the most personal device it’s ever created. Case in point: a user can “send” someone else their heartbeat by pressing two fingers to the Apple Watch screen to allow it to measure a pulse. Users can also share sketches, sound recordings and wrist-based love-taps for other forms of 21st-century flirtation.

It’s Extremely Sensitive

Apple claims that the technology inside its watch will allow it to both give and receive tactile feedback with quite a bit of subtlety. The vibration system, called Taptic Engine, provides haptic feedback that varies based on the context—for instance, the device would vibrate differently depending on whether you needed to make a right or a left turn while using a navigation app. The Apple Watch’s touch screen will also be able to differentiate between a tap and a press, which would should present more control options on the very small amount of available real estate.

Apple Still Hasn’t Revealed a Bunch of Important Information

With the Apple Watch not slated for release until 2015, Apple still has a lot of questions to answer. How’s the battery life? The fact that the company crowed about the iPhone 6’s improved battery life but was silent on Apple Watch may not be a good sign. We also want to know whether it’s water resistant, whether there will be a version for lefties and which app developers will be on board at launch.

TIME Smartphones

10 Things to Know About Apple’s New iPhone 6

Apple Watch Cover
TIME Photo-illustration. Hand: Milos Luzanin–Alamy

A design overhaul, digital payment system, camera improvements and more

Read more about the Apple Watch in this week’s TIME magazine.

The iPhone 6 was finally unveiled Tuesday during Apple’s highly anticipated product announcement. Tim Cook first unveiled the iPhone 6—featuring bigger screens, a digital wallet, better cameras, among other features—before unveiling the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch won’t be out until next year, but the iPhone 6 is coming this month.

Here are 10 things to know about the new iPhone:

There are two models: the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.

The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches diagonally and 6.9 mm wide. The iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5 inches diagonally and a bit thicker at 7.1 mm. The iPhone 6 has enough pixels to make it better than a 720p HD display, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a full 1080p HD display — that’s more than some next-generation gaming consoles. Both feature a new design with rounded edges for a seamless touch.

Apple Pay, a mobile payment system on the new iPhones, is trying to replace wallets.

In Apple’s first push into the payments game, the iPhone 6 is equipped with Apple Pay and a Near Field Communication (NFC) antenna that allows you to tap your phone against a sensor to make payments. Credit cards from participating companies—Visa, Mastercard and American Express—can be linked to your phone’s Passbook. Several merchants, like Disney, Chipotle and Seamless, have signed on with more to come.

On the security front, your card information is encrypted, and each transaction has a one-time payment number. So if you lose your phone, you can simply cancel its payments as opposed to the card itself. Apple also emphasized that neither the retailer nor Apple will know what you purchased, where you purchased it, or how much you paid.

Apple Pay will be available in the U.S. on Oct. 24.

The phones’ cameras are the most advanced iPhone cameras yet.

The iPhone 6 has an eight megapixel iSight camera, a 1.5µ pixel sensor and a ƒ/2.2 aperture lens. “That’s a nerdy way of saying, we’ve made the iSight camera a lot better,” according to Apple.

There’s an all-new feature called Focus Pixels that’ll help the iPhone cameras focus faster and better than ever. This means better video, and slow motion functions, too. You can even take “burst selfies,” with the iPhone 6 able to take up to 10 photos per second.

Battery life on the new iPhones is equal or better to the old models.

The iPhone 6’s battery life is roughly comparable to that of the iPhone 5: it features 10 more hours of audio, and four more hours of 3G talk. Both have standby battery lives of 10 days.

The iPhone 6 Plus, however, offers the best battery life of any iPhone to date. It has 80 hours of audio and 24 hours of 3G talk, and its standby battery life is 16 days.

The new phones have barometers to sense elevation.

The iPhone 6 has an air pressure sensor to tell you how high up you are. That will help it better record your fitness activity in that running a mile uphill will be adjusted to count more than running a mile on flat ground. This fitness data can be stored, accessed and analyzed in the iPhone’s new built-in Health app, a hub to record your health data and link third-party apps that also track your movements.

The iPhone 6 is much faster.

With 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the iPhone 6’s Wi-Fi speeds are up to three times faster than those of the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 also has faster LTE than the iPhone 5s, and it can make use of more frequency ranges than other iPhones, making for better roaming capabilities.

Landscape view is improved.

Landscape views on the new phones will now be compatible for Mail, Weather and even the Home screen. A second pane will appear in landscape for some apps, like Mail. Keyboards on landscape will also be modified to make typing easier: additional characters will be placed on the sides of the traditional keyboard so users don’t have to tap an extra button to access them.

A reachability function will allow you to continue to use the iPhone 6 with one hand.

A double tap of the Home button will make the top of the screen roll down, so people with shorter thumbs or smaller hands can still use the iPhone with only one hand. Double tap the Home button again, and the iPhone 6 returns to its normal configuration.

With two-year contracts, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus start at $199 and $299, respectively.

The 16GB, 64GB and 128 GB iPhone 6 cost $199, $299 and $399 respectively with two-year contracts. The 16GB, 64GB and 128GB iPhone 6 Plus cost $299, $399 and $499 respectively with two-year contracts. Both models come in gold, silver and space gray.

They’re on sale Sept. 19.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan on September 19. You can pre-order them starting Sept. 12. If you can’t wait, you can download iOS 8—the iPhone 6’s new operating system—for free on Sept. 17.

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