Apple watches are displayed following an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 9, 2015. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For hardcore devotees, Apple is more than just a tech company. It is almost a religion. Their prayers were answered on Monday with the launch of the Apple Watch, a smart watch that may up-end the market for wearable technology.
For the Jews among Apple worshipers, there are good tidings. RustyBrick, the company devoted to developing Jewish apps, is preparing its own app to help make religious life a little easier.
Over the years, the company has offered a slew of apps for smartphones and tablets, such as an e-Hagaddah for Passover and even a prayer app for the now defunct Google Glass. It is determined to keep up with the times and make its apps compatible with the most cutting-edge technology.
In the smart watch, Rusty- Brick sees an opportunity to help give people quick, easy access to religious information.
“A smartphone is sitting in your back pocket; it’s not always out and ready,” said Barry Schwartz, RustyBrick’s CEO. Unlike a phone, he said a watch was “much more discrete, much more available.” The application, then, should be attuned to quick glances and easy access to short bits of information.
“When you have the Apple Watch on you’re going to use your phone a lot less,” Schwartz said.
Like its Google Glass app, RustyBrick’s planned Apple Watch app will let users know when it’s time to pray or help them find kosher restaurants. It will pull up a relevant blessing for food, let users know when sunset is and what time Shabbat or other holidays will start and end.
On that last point, Schwartz said he was waiting to see whether a time piece that is essentially a computer will be permissible for use on Shabbat.
“We’ll have to see what the rabbis say,” he said.
Apps for the Apple Watch will be able to take advantage of its “haptic” feedback, which gives users little movements on their wrists, a small touch screen and a “digital crown” for scrolling.
The device also has a speaker and microphone.
It represents the first new product category the company has launched since the death of its famed CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs, in 2011. Analysts believe it will have a more difficult time redefining the market the way the iPod did for music players, the iPhone for smartphones and the iPad for tablets.
The watch’s major selling points are greater ease of access to smartphone notifications – allowing users to quickly see and respond to relevant information without having to pull out their phones – and its use as a fitness device. It tracks the user’s movements and heart rates, as well.
Price-wise, it will range from $350 for the most basic version, to over $10,000 for the high-end gold edition.
It will be available in the US and a handful of other countries starting April 24.
It is not clear when it will be available in Israel.
Israelis recently got an extra burst of pride in Apple when CEO Tim Cook made a surprise visit to launch the company’s development center in Herzliya. The center, whose staff numbers 750, with hiring in progress for another 50, is the company’s largest R&D facility outside the US. It is focused on chip design.
“We have an enormous admiration for Israel, not just as an important ally for the US, but as a place to do business,” Cook said during the visit.