By Geroge Rosenthal
It’s time for some wrist talking. Apple has rolled out its new line of Series 3 watches complete with cellular capability.
The new smartwatches are now on sale, just in the nick of time for holiday shopping.
Apple Watch fans will find the Series 3 is the full replacement for the Apple Watch 2. It features many upgrades including the ability to make calls from your wrist.
The watch enables cell calling on all major carriers in the U.S. The device supports both data and voice and uses the same number as your iPhone.
Calls do come at a price, it will add about $10 per month to your existing wireless fee, but imagine the fun and options of conversing like comic detective Dick Tracy.
Apple’s new W2 wireless chip helps make the calls work. It switches between Bluetooth, Wi-Fi networks and the watch itself always searching for your iPhone first.
Calls can be dialed directly with the keypad on the watch, or by tapping an existing contact. Actual message writing is limited to scribbling letters, tapping emoji, or dictation.
You can also have a voice conversation with Siri. She is no longer limited to just on-screen text responses. Engaging Siri without an iPhone nearby though can be troublesome.
While the watch is designed to free you up from your phone it does require your iPhone to help with setup and app installation. Calling will not work with Android phones.
Most use the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker. New with the Series 3 is an on-watch extra sensor barometric altimeter with GPS. The built-in GPS records the distance, speed and route of your outdoor workouts. The altimeter altimeter tracks elevation during your hilliest rides and highest climbstracks elevation during hill rides and climbs. It is also “ocean proof” and safe at 50 meters.
Heart rate monitoring has been improved. More graphs are listed for all-day averages in resting heart rate and walking heart rate. Other graphs and averages for workouts are listed as well much like Samsung's Gear watches fitness offerings.
Workouts are easier to start and stop, or switch on the fly. Runs can be auto-paused. Music controls show up in workouts with a quick swipe, and music playlists can be set to go automatically.
Those who wish to listen to music to accompany their workout will find improved synchronization with the WatchOS 4 operating system. Playlists can be added when the watch is charging. Most songs can be downloaded from your iTunes library.
Like most newer Apple products wireless headphones are required to enjoy the audio. AirPods are a good pairing for the watch.
While the Apple Series 3 has added capabilities it is not a full replacement for the iPhone. Responding to emails and messages is not easy and there is no camera. Your phone is still needed to set everything up and for adding apps and other information.
Battery life can be an issue. Due to limitations, phone calls can be severely curtailed as can GPS-aided workouts. Costs for wireless service and Apple music add to the expense.
Users of Apple Watch 2 will find little difference in appearance between the old and new devices. The 3 features a red dot on the crown the 2 does not. Size is about the same. You can use your older bands associated with the previous models.
The cellular version of the Series 3 will run around $400. A stainless steel model will run near $600 and then there are the more luxurious Hermes and ceramic edition models priced at over $1,200.
Apple keeps improving its smartwatch offerings. While not revolutionary the Series 3 is first to offer cell capability with improved fitness applications. The tech giant is hoping consumers will find that now is the right time to purchase one.