Always-On Apple Watch 5: The Hidden Truth

Always-on Apple Watch just after turning on

The Apple Watch 5 offers some new cosmetic options (titanium and ceramic case, Hermès edition), a compass, a menstrual cycle tracker and a REALLY LOUD NOISE detector (Note: detects really loud noises quietly.). The Apple-loving press had to have something to report. Ladies and gentlemen, behold! The always-on Apple Watch Series 5! And the crowd goes wild. O.K., maybe that’s the wrong word . . .

For example, CNN Underscored product pimp cum writer Jacob Krol took to the always-on Apple Watch like an Engishman takes to a nice cup of tea.

I tried it out. It’s a nice new feature and feels like a refinement, matching Android Wear smartwatches. I have a feeling Series 5 won’t knock Apple out of the top spot in the smartwatch market. It’s nice to look at your wrist and get what you need.

The more highly caffeinated technological team at cnet.com uncovered The Truth About the Always-On Apple Watch Series 5: it’s not fully-on when its not on.

Always-on Apple Watch in full "on" mode

Much like other smartwatches, especially last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 Wear OS watches, the color watch faces go into a dimmer, yet still slightly animated mode when you turn your wrist away. The watch faces change colors a bit and brighten up when you turn your wrist back. The always-on mode works only when it’s on a wrist, and with Apple’s watch faces and the Workout app.

I’m not going to speculate which non-wrist body parts won’t active the slightly-on Apple Watch 5.

But I will point out that cnet’s report shows that Apple has refreshed the barbed wire topping its smartwatch “walled garden.” Cupertino doesn’t “allow” developers to create new faces for the Apple Watch, never mind somewhat-on faces.

As you can see in their video above, theverge.com are, like, totally stoked about the kinda-sorta-always-on Apple Watch Series 5. I think it’s because they know a lot of really dull people.

That process [of having to activate Apple smartwatch to read the time] has remained the most obnoxious aspect of wearing Apple’s smartwatch, not because it’s really all that cumbersome, but because it carries with it so much social baggage. There is little that screams “I don’t want to be here” or “You’re boring me to death” quite like raising your arm every so slightly and darting your gaze down at your $400 wrist computer.

Actually, they may be those dull people they’re talking about. The writers’ technical explanation of the it-really-is-an-always-on-Apple-watch-in-its-own-special-way is excactly the sort of thing that would make me look at my watch, counting the seconds ’til escape.

Apple achieves this new feature by relying on what’s known as Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO), a type of OLED-based circuit technology that utilizes a blend of different thin-film transistors. That allows Apple more granular control over display features like refresh rate. Interestingly, the Series 4 shipped this type of display last year, but only the Series 5 has a version of that LTPO tech that uses new components, alongside new power management software, not found in the Series 4 to keep the display on at all times while preserving the device’s 18-hour battery life.

Sorry, what? Must’ve dozed off there for a minute. To be fair, the intrepid journos have scored a major scoop (completely neglected by The New York Times): the always-on Apple Watch’s second hand isn’t!

Always-on Apple Watch Nike edition

Being able to manually lower the refresh rate on the display is why the Apple Watch Series 5 second hand, which usually glides along smoothly when the display is at its full 60Hz refresh rate, disappears in the always-on, low-power mode.

Wait a second [hand]! The Apple Watch 5’s second hand is a genie; waiting for its owner to rouse it from slumber? Shouldn’t it be blue, then?

Anyway, needs must. I mean, we can’t have millions of Americans experiencing SWC (Surreptitious Watch Checking) PTSD. And if they are because they have a previous gen Apple watch, there’s an app for that. Or should be. Touch to activate, of course.

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