The Apple Watch is the latest major device release from the world’s leading consumer electronics corporation, but it has not been without difficulties. While it is hard to imagine any major product release of this type progressing entirely without hiccups, Apple has nonetheless had to endure some slightly embarrassing headlines since the device released just a week ago.
Apple Watch – taptic engine troubles
Firstly, the chief component of the Apple watch, the taptic engine, has been reported as malfunctioning during the quality tests. This was picked up on by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Apple reduced the supply of the smartwatch when the device was recently released. This could have a serious impact on the success of the Apple Watch, with Apple having originally ordered 5 million of the devices for its initial distribution.
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The Apple Watch is an ambitious device in the sense that it is attempting to deliver entirely new physical functionality. The tactic engine which is central to the Apple Watch’s portfolio of features has been created in order to enable users to experience tapping sensations. By creating a series of vibrations, the Apple Watch will attract a user’s attention, and enable consumers to interact with the Apple Watch in one of the many ways that this is encouraged by the device.
To get a little technical, the taptic engine which is central to the Apple Watch utilizes a custom linear resonance actuator responsible for producing back and forth motion along an axis. Once this movement occurs, the tapping stimulus which is designed to attract the user is then imparted. However, shortly after the mass production of the Apple Watch commenced in February, it was noted that the taptic engines manufactured by AAC Technologies were faulty.
This resulted in Apple shifting almost all of the production of this critical component to Nidec; naturally this is the sort of logistical headache that Apple would rather have avoided. Apple was initially hoping that this new manufacturer would produce engines that functioned perfectly, and there has been some evidence to support this notion. However, the ability of Nidec to match Apple’s production requirements may be limited, and this could impact upon the number of sales of the Apple Watch that the consumer electronics giant achieves during this initial tranche of sales.
The Wall Street Journal has also suggested that Apple will restrict production of the Apple Watch until June in order to deal with this issue and ensure that it is on top of production.
This is certainly an unpalatable issue for Apple, as it has recently been claimed by Apple CEO Tim Cook that the Apple Watch has exceeded its production. This is not at all common for Apple, which has a tendency to underestimate the number of devices that it will shift in any given period. Recent iPhone estimates have been significantly under the number of devices that Apple has actually been able to sell, and considering the phenomenal size of the corporation it certainly is disinclined to overestimate its capabilities and potential.
But the retail manager of Apple, Angela Ahrendts, has stated in a leaked letter which was intended for employees that the stronger global demand for the Apple Watch will ensure that retail stores only receive more watches to sell to consumers at the end of May. It would seem that the problems that Apple has been experiencing could exacerbate this issue still further, and it remains to be seen what effect this will have on the success of the Apple Watch in terms of sales.
Apple Watch band locking problems
As if the production issue wasn’t problematic enough for Apple, there has also been a another problem which has recently come to light. It has been widely reported by the media over the last 24 hours that tattoos are proving problematical for the Apple Watch. It appears that heart rate sensors do not work properly for users that have full sleeve tattoos, and further issues have been noted with regard to the band locking mechanisms.
Some users have been reporting problems with the locking mechanism which have resulted in devices sliding off the wrists of their owners. In some cases, this has resulted in the glass of the Apple watch cracking. Apple has quickly moved to provide replacement devices for people experiencing this issue, but it is nonetheless an embarrassing oversight for the corporation that it must hope is not widespread in nature.
A generous view of this incident might suggest that it is not at all unexpected for the first generation release of a major technology product to experience a few teething troubles. But Apple will certainly be hoping that this is not a major design and manufacturing issue, as it would certainly be viewed as a disappointing oversight in the production process.
Apple Watch tattoo issue
Another highly publicized problem with the Apple Watch has been the notion that tattoos can negatively affect the heartbreak centre included in the device. This was widely reported on the Internet and in the mainstream media, and now Apple has officially confirmed this issue on its own website. Apple has acknowledged that “permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance,” and also that “the ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.”
Considering the number of people in contemporary society who have opted for tattoos, this could prove a major issue for Apple. It would seem that any device utilizing similar hardware to the Apple Watch could experience difficulties when it comes across a dark tattoo on the wrist of a wearer. Reports have indicated that Fitbit’s Charge HR suffers from the same issues.
This will certainly cause many potential purchasers of the Apple Watch to try before they buy, and it is definitely a technical issue that Apple will want to get on top of as soon as possible. Apple will recognize that this is an issue that could potentially alienate millions of customers, so engineers within the corporation will already be working diligently on overcoming this problem.
Digital Crown on your Apple Watch
Another recently reported problem with the Apple Watch has been related to the digital crown button. This element of the Apple Watch protrudes from the side of the device, and is utilized in order to scroll through apps and emails, along with operating lots of important functions on the device.
Several users have reported that this button tends to stick, effectively rendering the Apple Watch completely inoperable. Although this is only a temporary issue, it is nevertheless a particularly annoying one, especially as it occurs when the device gets sticky. This can obviously potentially happen quite a lot, considering that Apple has strongly positioned the Apple Watch as a health-related device. Sweaty wrists can seemingly quickly put the Apple Watch out of business.
Detractors of Apple will no doubt be having a field day with this list of issues. But the fact remains that the Apple Watch launch has largely been successful. Apple attracted a vast number of pre-orders, and the critical reception for the device has been pretty decent. Nonetheless, the corporation has some work ahead to ensure that the Apple Watch meets its high standards of quality.