It’s been some time since Apple introduced the world to the Apple Watch, it’s first wearable ever. Few devices could hold our attention for so many months without losing their allure, but because it’s Apple, we’ve been following every move since it first appeared onstage in September 2014. At Monday’s Apple Event in Cupertino, the time finally came to meet the Apple Watch up close.
Apple didn’t go into as much detail about the Apple Watch as we expected on March 9, 2015, but there were a few gems in the presentation. We saw several cool apps in action, learned more about how you’ll use the Watch, and caught a glimpse of how it will work in our daily lives. Apple also revealed pricing for the three different collections, as well as when they’ll go on sale. All the newest info is at the top of the post.
Updated on 04-07-2015 by Williams Pelegrin: Added in employee discount information. You can read it under the price and availability section below.
Price and availability
The cheapest model, Apple Watch Sport, starts at $350. The regular Apple Watch will start at $550. The 14-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will be available in a limited number for $10,000 and up at select retail locations. You can check out all your options on Apple’s website. The straps themselves range in price from $50 to $550, so if you want more than one strap for your Watch, be prepared to shell out even more dough.
You can try on the Apple Watch in stores on April 10, but it will arrive in stores on April 24. So far, only a handful of countries will get the watch, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, the U.K., Japan, Hong Kong, China, France, and Germany. Preorders for the Watch start on April 10 at 12 a.m. PST.
Apple also wants as many of its employees as possible to have the Apple Watch. As detailed in a company memo obtained by 9to5Mac, every Apple employee will get a 50-percent discount on both the Apple Watch Sport and stainless steel Apple Watch. The Apple Watch Edition, meanwhile, won’t have any sort of discount. After the Apple Watch becomes available for purchase on April 24, Apple employees have 90 days to take advantage of the discounts.
Tap-to-pay from your wrist and other cool apps
Apple also showed off a bunch of cool apps, including Uber, Instagram, Alarm.com, hotels, and various airlines. Now Apple’s put a full list of the first 25 apps that will be available for download on the Apple Watch in the App Store. The apps include: Air Canada, AliPay,Babbel, Dark Sky, ECB Cricket, Evernote, Expedia, Kitchen Stories, Line, MLB.com At Bat, Procreate Pocket, Qantas Airways, Redfin, Runtastic Six Pack, Sky Guide, SPG: Starwood Hotels, the New York Times, Target, Things, TransitApp, the Wall Street Journal, Twitter, WeChat, Wudnerlist, and Yahoo Tourney Pick’Em.
The watch seems to be contextually aware, and will bring up apps based on your needs. For example, if you’re at the airport, it will bring up your boarding pass and the barcode of your boarding pass, so you don’t even have to check in or print it out. Then, when you approach your hotel, all your reservation info pops up, and depending on which hotel you’re at, you may even be able to use it as your door key, effectively eliminating the need to visit the concierge.
Just like the latest iPhones, the Apple Watch will work with Apple Pay, thanks to built-in NFC. Tap-to-pay will undoubtedly become much easier once you’re doing it from your wrist instead of your phone. All you have to do is touch the side button, and the watch will bring up your credit card. After that, you don’t have to touch the payment terminal to pay, enter a password, or verify with your fingerprint — You just have to be near it, Apple says. This should work at the 700,000 Apple Pay locations in the United States.
All the apps, how-to videos, and info about the Apple Watch are available in the Apple Watch app, which arrives in the App Store today along with iOS 8.2.
Some functions work unpaired from an iPhone
Although essential servies like the clock and calendar will run locally on the Apple Watch, tasks largely be offloaded to a Bluetooth-paired iPhone. In addition and much to the chagrin of some programmers, Apple won’t officially support native Apple Watch apps at launch. That’s frustrated some in the development community, who believe the restrictions will lead to disappointing third-party apps out of the gate.
Recent commentary from model Christy Turlington Burns, however, gives hope the Apple Watch will be capable of more independent processing than originally assumed. In a blog post titled, “The Art of Vacation Training,” Burns implies the Apple Watch’s fitness features don’t necessarily require an iPhone.
“After you run with Apple Watch and your iPhone a few times, the Workout app knows more about your stride. So you can run on a treadmill or outside without your phone and still get a really accurate workout summary,” she writes.
Apple plans to introduce an updated version of the Apple Watch SDK, WatchKit, with native app development tools later this year. Until then, untethered users will have to make do.
Battery life is sadly limited, but there’s a power saving mode
Apple isn’t a miracle worker, and it still hasn’t solved the eternal smartwatch battery life conundrum. The Apple Watch will almost certainly need charging every night in its box, or with the MagSafe charger. Luckily, it seems there’s a power saving mode, which should keep the most basic watch functions alive when the battery’s running low, for up to 72 hours. Apple says it’ll charge up to 80 percent in just 1.5 hours, or 100 percent in 2.5 hours.
Now we have more details about battery life, straight from Apple. The company claims the Watch will last 18 hours of mixed use on a normal day. Normal use breaks down into the following actions: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 30-minute workout with music playback from the Watch over Bluetooth. The Watch also gets 3 hours of talk time, if you’re interested in talking to your wrist for hours on end.
If you only listen to music from your Watch, you’ll get 6.5 hours. If you are just checking the clock five times each hour, it will last you through 48 hours of use. Of course, if you’re only using the Watch to tell time, you probably should just buy a normal wristwatch. The watch battery is also said to be replaceable, so long as you buy one from Apple.
It may have 8GB of storage, including 2GB for music
One of the specs Apple has yet to reveal is the amount of storage onboard the Watch, however, 9to5Mac thinks it has the answer. The publication’s sources say that all versions of the Watch will come with 8GB of storage onboard. Apparently, 2GB of that storage will be available for music, while 75MB will be allowed for photos. All those files will be accessible on the Watch, even if your phone isn’t with you, though, so that’s a plus. Also, the 2GB should hold as many as 200 songs, which is more than enough for a workout. The remaining 6GB will likely be used for the OS and all the apps you download.
Force Touch, Digital Crown, and other ways to interact
Tim Cook relieved a lot of people today when he announced that the Apple Watch will tell time accurately. He said it’s within 50 milliseconds of UTC, so you’re never behind. Cook also showed off watch face widgets for the first time, which can be anything from a stopwatch, calendar events, world clock, or other tools. The Glances feature was also explained. All you have to do is swipe up from bottom of watch to see Glances such as weather, calendar, music, heart rate, and other key information that you only need to see for a second or two at a time.
Cook claimed the Apple Watch offers brand-new ways to communicate immediately and intimately with your family and friends. Thanks to what Apple calls Digital Touch, you can send animated sketches scribbled on the screen to a friend’s Watch, in real time, or send a tap from your watch to get your their attention. It’s even possible to send your digital heartbeat.
Unlike Android Wear, the Apple Watch will have a home screen that’s full of app icons. The app icons look like small, brightly colored bubbles, resting on a black field. You’ll be able to choose which app to open at will. However, we’ve also heard that the watch will be contextually aware and bring up appropriate apps when you need them most. You’ll receive notifications, calls, texts, and other alerts on your wrist, which you can glance at, answer, or dismiss.
The watch will supposedly know when you’re looking at it and turn off when you’re not, so you don’t have to worry about pressing the power button every five minutes. Apple says the screen will be sensitive enough to recognize a “force touch” press from a light tap, so you’ll have yet another way to interact with the watch. Meanwhile, the digital crown will handle all the zooming, scrolling, and so on. Additionally, Siri will be there for voice commands, dictation, and other functions.
Premium design runs through all three versions
Apple always puts a lot of focus on design, but it has really put the emphasis on style for the Apple Watch. The watch comes in three versions, each made of different materials. All three watches will come with several strap options at the start, though many third-party manufacturers are expected to jump in with their own straps, too.
The entry-level Apple Watch Sport is made out of anodized aluminum and comes in space gray or silver. You can choose from a variety of strap options, including brightly colored silicon. The Sport has an ion-X strengthened glass screen to protect it from scratches. Meanwhile, the mid-range Apple Watch comes in stainless steel with a hadr-wearing sapphire crystal face, and you can choose between the space gray or standard silvery finish options. A variety of metal, leather, and other kinds of straps are available for this model.
Finally, the premium and likely most expensive version of the Apple Watch, called Edition, comes in 18-karat yellow and rose gold. The watch face is made of sapphire crystal, and you can choose from several fancy leather and metal strap options.
Two screen sizes sit more comfortably
So far, wearables have been one-size fits all, but that’s not the case with Apple Watch. It will come in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, so as to fit a wider range of wrists more comfortably. For reference, the 38mm Apple Watch will be smaller than the 1.56-inch wide Moto 360, as well as the 42mm Huawei Watch. It will also be much shorter than the Samsung Gear 2, which measures 58.4mm tall. Theoretically, this will make it ideal for smaller wrists, while those who can sport a Moto 360 and look natural can have the larger 42mm version.
According to Apple’s WatchKit developer information, the 42-millimeter Apple Watch model will feature a screen with 390 × 312-pixel resolution, and the 38-millimeter model will pack a 340 × 272 pixel resolution.
As with any smartwatch, one the Apple Watch’s biggest features is fitness. Tim Cook says it’ll even give you a tap on the wrist if you sit for too long. The watch has a built in heart rate monitor, which should give it accurate fitness tracking and an awareness of how many calories you’ve burned. It will track your steps, the intensity of your workouts, and other fitness metrics. The accelerometer and GPS are also sure to draw gym rats, as are the personalized fitness goals in the workout app.
Wear it in the shower
Tim Cook even says you can wear it in the shower, while you’re running in a rainstorm, or sweating through a hot yoga class. There’s no mention of swimming with it, though.
Updated on 3-27-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added list of the first 25 apps available for the Watch in the App Store.
Updated on 3-26-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added information regarding the Apple Watch’s behavior when unpaired from an iPhone.
Updated on 3-10-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news of the Apple Watch’s battery life, storage space, and further pricing details.
Updated on 3-09-2015 by Malarie Gokey: We’ve updating this post with all the news from after the March 9 reveal!
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