Tech Gets More Personal


chris-perez-headshot-square“What do you think about the Apple Watch?”

That’s a question I’ve been fielding a lot lately, as Apple’s biggest new product announcement since the iPad has aroused a lot of interest across both fashion and tech sectors.

My reaction is lukewarm.

The Apple Watch is the first major product announcement without Steve Jobs at the helm, and the first new product I’m not sure is clearly better than the competition.

Apple was forced to announce the Apple Watch last month. The competition has caught up and they needed to react – as evidenced by the vague Spring 2015 release date. Which is the first announcement made in recent memory with a product that wasn’t ready to ship within weeks of its unveiling.

Google, Samsung, and Motorola are out-iterating Apple, and some will say that they are out-innovating them as well. Android Wear is a great concept that struck first, and the Moto 360 is arguably a more elegant looking device than the Apple Watch (another first) due to its circular form factor – something I personally hoped the Apple Watch would mirror.

Usability, though – the one area where Apple typically excels – has yet to be tested, and initial feedback on first-generation Android Wear devices (including the Moto 360) leaves an opening for Apple to swoop in. That is, if consumers are willing to buy in at the “starting at $349” price tag. A price that makes even Apple’s most economical form of the Watch (which we can assume will be the Apple Watch Sport edition) the most expensive device on the market.

This isn’t a new move for Apple. The first-generation iPhone released at $599 was initially perceived as a luxury item targeted to the tech elite. Yet, it sold in droves, thanks to a market in desperate need of a better smartphone. Is everyone now ready for a wearable in that same degree?

Like the announcement for the Apple Watch itself, I think that conjecture is a bit premature. But only slightly. Apple calls the Apple Watch “the most personal device we’ve ever created.” And when it’s successful (and Android Wear as well) it will signal a new era of consumer’s connection to technology.

Just as the iPhone and apps have changed the pace and speed at which we consume and create data, the first mainstream smart watch will mark a point where we develop a new personal connection to our devices. “OK, Google, show me my latest messages.”

Recognizing the need and desire for more personal connection with our devices, this issue of Citygram will mark some shifts in how we deliver content as well. Next to our Weekend Itinerary you’ll now see new Radar columns designed to give you a rundown on the latest music, restaurant, and shopping happenings going on in the city – as collected by our team of staff writers that know best.

For those looking for even more connection, you’ll notice our new #heycitygram campaign designed to offer you quick and personal recommendations at the pace of technology. We’ve always strived to be your go-to city guide and resource, and we feel these new offerings help you rely on us even more in your day-to-day.

On the magazine side, I’m particularly excited about expanding the breadth of our stories thanks to a couple new contributors. Gillian Driscoll will be giving readers more connection to new music – with a dedicated playlist according to each issues theme and a new music video column that puts us inside the home of local artists for intimate interviews and exclusive performances. For those that read us remotely, Australian transplant Angela Castles will be providing essays on her first impressions. We hope this column offer visitors an honest introspective into Austin culture and gives locals a chance to appreciate the things we often take for granted – her first piece takes us to the legendary smoke pit of Franklin BBQ.

I often express to people my desire for Citygram to encapsulate Austin culture – giving readers a glimpse into the city and its people without even having to live here. And all the articles in this issue speak particularly well to that sentiment: Adrienne Breux’s story on sign painter Joe Swec speaks to our sense of independence, Angela Castles’ shop local feature on the new WORK collective speaks to the city’s openness to collaboration, Veronica Meewes study into local-area restaurant family meals showcases Austin’s pride and sense of community, and Amy Lynch’s intriguing read on the Texas roller derby speaks to our city’s attitude and perseverance.

Telling these stories is what energizes and inspires us, and we hope that some of that energy is transferred to you as a reader through this innovative new medium. If you’re new to Citygram, let us know your first impressions on our app, and if you’ve been a loyal reader, let us know how you feel about our new direction.

We’re making this magazine for you every day, in hopes that it becomes technology that is artfully personal.


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