10 things you (probably) didn’t know about Apple Watch

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Apple Watch trivia: You can't make this stuff up.
It's time for some trivia.
Photo: Malvern Graphics/Cult of Mac

#10things bug In just a few short years, Apple Watch transformed the smartwatch from pricey novelty to potential lifesaver. But how much do you know about Apple’s breakthrough smartwatch? Is it time (pun intended) to pick up some new Apple Watch trivia? You’ve come to the right place.

Here are 10 things you (probably) don’t know about the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch trivia

Apple Watch quickly morphed from fashion accessory to health-centered device.
Apple Watch quickly morphed from fashion accessory to health-centered device.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Cupertino launched Apple Watch on April 24, 2015. At the time, CEO Tim Cook described the company’s first wearable as the “next chapter in Apple history.” Rudimentary at first, the device continues to evolve, with Apple adding fitness features and health-related hardware upgrades. In just five years, Apple Watch found its footing and went on to dominate the smartwatch market.

But you knew that already. These lesser-known bits of Apple Watch trivia will give you a more well-rounded picture of the groundbreaking device.

1. Apple designed it to counter the tyranny of the iPhone

Early on, the Apple Watch looked more like an iPhone accessory than its own product. In fact, the idea of an Apple Watch was to get people to stop spending their lives staring at an iPhone.

“People are carrying their phones with them and looking at the screen so much,” Kevin Lynch, one of the Apple engineers who helped bring the Apple Watch to market, told Wired around the time of the device’s launch. “People want that level of engagement. But how do we provide it in a way that’s a little more human, a little more in the moment when you’re with somebody?”

2. The first Apple Watch prototype was pretty basic

The first prototype Apple Watch was an iPhone attached to the wearer with a Velcro strap and a custom dongle for the Digital Crown. They developed a custom app, which appeared the size of a watch face in the center of the iPhone screen, to give a sense of necessary scale.

Letterpad was one of the first games we got to see on Apple Watch.
Letterpad was one of the first games we got to see on Apple Watch.
Image: NimbleBit

3. The first Apple Watch game

Months before the Apple Watch went on sale, game developer NimbleBit built a simple word game called Letterpad. Ultimately, Apple Watch gaming never really took off. But this was the first time most people thought about gaming on their wrists since the days of the Nintendo Game & Watch three decades earlier.

4. Apple Watch has already been involved in multiple criminal cases

It turns out that a device that continually tracks movement and heart rate can help catch wrongdoers. In one case, a Michigan man claimed he was attacked at his place of work, only for his Apple Watch heart rate monitor to show that he was lying. He later admitted to making up the whole thing.

In another, an Apple Watch helped reveal exactly when a murder victim’s heartbeat stopped. This alerted authorities that a murder had taken place much earlier than thought.

5. Apple invented a new type of gold for Apple Watch Edition

The $10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition never really took off as a luxury product the way Cupertino intended. But it wasn’t because of a lack of effort or innovation. As part of the development process, Apple actually created a new kind of gold.

This process involved packing molecules together more closely, consequently making it harder than standard gold. It also meant Apple had to use less gold in each unit. That’s why, while the Apple Watch Edition was expensive, it wasn’t solid gold expensive.

6. Apple Watch outsells the entire Swiss watch industry

Before the Apple Watch came out, Jony Ive was quoted as saying that the Swiss watch industry was “f***ed.” While plenty of people still buy mechanical Swiss watches, there’s no doubt that Apple Watch sales blindsided these traditional watchmakers.

Not just one or two of the leading manufacturers, either. According to a recent report from Strategy Analytics, the total number of Apple Watches shipped last year came in 45% higher than the output of the entire Swiss watch industry.

Jony Ive pays for thousands of orchards to be planted at schools
Jony Ive was one of the brains behind the Apple Watch.
Photo: Apple

7. Apple Watch was Jony Ive’s baby

A 2015 profile in The New Yorker posed a question to Apple exec Jeff Williams. Was the Apple Watch more purely the work of design chief Jony Ive than previous Apple products? “After a silence of twenty-five seconds, during which Apple made fifty thousand dollars in profit, he said, ‘Yes,’” the article noted.

Apple quickly moved from marketing Apple Watch as a fashion accessory to selling it as a fitness device. Since fashion seems to have been Ive’s focus for the wearable, it makes you wonder if the speedy transition expedited Ive’s departure from Apple in 2019.

8. You can run Windows 95 and classic Mac OS on it

Hackers have used watchOS, the Apple Watch’s operating system, as an emulation platform for old-school operating systems. Nick Lee managed to get both Windows 95 and Mac OS System 7.5.5 running on Apple Watch. There’s no real practical reason you’d want to, but it’s still pretty neat that you can.

9. Inspired by Steve Jobs’ health problems?

The Apple Watch was the first new product Apple set out to create after CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs’ death in late 2011. According to Apple analyst Tim Bajarin, the concept of building a health-tracking device came as a direct response to Jobs’ battle with cancer.

“During this time, Jobs discovered how disjointed the healthcare system can be,” Bajarin wrote. “He took on the task of trying to bring some digital order to various aspects of the healthcare system, especially the connection between patients, their data, and their healthcare providers.”

The first Apple Watch came out in 1995. Did you take advantage of this offer back then?
Did you take advantage of this offer back in 1995?
Photo: Apple

10. The first Apple Watch came out in 1995

Well, kind of. In 1995, Cupertino created an Apple-branded wristwatch bearing the company logo and offered it as a freebie to Macintosh System 7.5 upgraders. Today, these original Apple watches are collectors items. You can expect to pay a couple hundred bucks for one on eBay if one shows up on the auction site.

More Apple Watch trivia?

If you know other interesting Apple Watch tidbits or trivia, sound off in the comments below.