The iWatch is HERE but it's Called The Apple Watch

News Richard Goodwin 16:19, 12 Sep 2014

Apple has launched the Apple Watch alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus... here's everything we know thus far

The iWatch is official but it’s not called the iWatch – it’s called Apple Watch. What's more, it's not really just one product either, as you've got two sizes, three styles, and a multitude of other options to choose from - there's a wide range of combinations you can cook up to make sure your iWatch fits around your life as well as your wrist (oh yes). Tim Cook says the Apple Watch is all about health and fitness tracking, and represents a HUGE step forward for Apple as a company.

Interestingly, the Apple Watch is the first Apple product exclusively guided from drawing board to retail by Cook himself (Jobs had no role in it, apparently). AND what’s

Apple Watch On The KYM Podcast

In the latest episode of the KYM Podcast, we spoke about the Apple Watch. We discussed what Apple was planning to release and whether we think it’ll make smartwatches as big as some are predicting.

Join Rich, Paul and James as we all discuss our personal feelings of the Apple Watch and the all important question; would we buy one?

To listen in you’ll probably find it easiest to download it from iTunes here or if you want to use your own podcast launcher you’ll find everything you need to do that in this article here.

even more interesting is the name: will the Apple Watch actually be called the Apple Watch or will it eventually be called the iWatch? Considering the gizmo WAS officially launched as the Apple Watch, you’d think that’s the name Apple has settled on, right? Usually, yeah – but in a recent interview with Cult of Mac, Apple CEO Tim Cook ACTUALLY referred to it as the iWatch. Here’s the quote, make of it what you will…

“[We’ve created] over a million US jobs, between people we've hired ourselves, or people that are working for suppliers doing work on our behalf, or developers who are writing applications for iPhone and iPad and the Mac, and now, of course, as of today, the iWatch.”

As of Q3 2014, the wearables market is controlled by Samsung, followed by FitBit and its legion of fitness trackers taking second place, and Jawbone bringing up the rear in third. So – how will the Apple Watch affect the already-established players in the wearables market place? In a word: BADLY.

Here’s what Canalys’ Daniel Matte said about the Apple Watch: “Apple has produced a smart watch that mass-market consumers will actually want to wear.” He added: “The sleek software, variety of designs and reasonable entry price make for a compelling new product. Apple must still prove, however, that the final product will deliver adequate battery life for consumers.” 

The Apple Watch will enter and disrupt, according to Matte, driving shipments up 129% year-on-year and causing ALL kinds of headaches for vendors like Samsung, LG and Sony who are all competing for that all-important position on your wrist in 2015. 

Apple Watch Design, Display & Build

Apple has created what it calls a Digital Crown, a spinning dial on the side of the watch that you spin to zoom in and out of apps or rotate down through apps. This method of interaction ensures the display is never covered, meaning you can always see what’s being displayed on its screen – even when moving around the UX. The screen does still support touch input, however, and what's more it has "force sensitivity" so it can tell how hard you're pressing - this means it can perform different functions with different levels of pressure on the display.

Apple will retail three types of Apple Watch: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Each model is available in two sizes; 42mm and 38mm – one for women and one for men – and Apple also has six different strap options, which users can switch around at their leisure. There's also a selection of six material finishes and colour options, though some are tied to specific models.


The materials include Stainless Steel, Silver Aluminium, 18-Karat Gold, Space Black Stainless Steel, Space Grey Aluminium, and 18-Karat Rose Gold. The steel options are only for the Apple Watch Sport, and the gold is only available on the Apple Watch Edition - which also features a coloured crown.


The strap options include a traditional link bracelet, a plastic sports band, a leather loop, a classic buckle design, a modern buckle design, and a "Milanese" loop featuring a sort of mesh design. Each strap type is available in different colours and finishes too.


The watches design features a square face with rounded edges that curve around from front to back smoothly. As well as the dial, there's also a button input, but apart from this the bodywork is largely uninterrupted - there are no ports as all the charging and data transfer is handled by wireless protocols. The back panel is ceramic and features sensors for use with health apps and magnets to guide it to the correct position on the Magsafe wireless charger.


Meanwhile the display is the much-fabled Sapphire Glass, though we don't yet have details on the resolution or display tech used. All models are also water resistant, but no IP rating or similar has been revealed so far.

 

Curiously, aside from wireless charging, Apple has mentioned pretty much nothing about the battery. After the event a spokesperson for Apple, Natalie Kerris, spoke to Re/code about the battery life on the new Apple Watch. Kerris said, “There’s a lot of new technology packed into Apple Watch and we think people will love using it throughout the day. We anticipate that people will charge nightly which is why we designed an innovative charging solution that combines our MagSafe technology and inductive charging.”

You'll notice Kerris said DIDDLY SQUAT about the actual battery inside the Apple Watch which tells us one of two things: 1) the battery is teeny and Apple is terrified of the press finding out about just how small it is at launch, or 2) Apple views battery size as an arbitrary spec not worth further discussion and the Apple Watch battery is fine and will last all day, providing you use Apple's "innovative" wireless charging station. 

Moral of the story? Don't expect Apple to tell you ANYTHING about its products beyond what has been sanctioned by its internal and mysterious PR overlords. 

Apple Watch Software

The OS running inside Apple’s Watch has been completely redesigned with watch-based use in mind; it’s still not clear what OS the wearables use, however –– although it is most likely some modified form of iOS, purpose built for this device, just like what Apple did with Apple TV. 

It comes with a bunch of watch faces that include different functions that you can customise yourself. If you want the time and the weather you can press down and change them to what you want. There’s a Mickey Mouse dancing watch face, for example, or another that shows you your place on earth.

The Apple Watch links up to your iPhone and can show notifications or use the handset's GPS for positioning information. It also works with Apple's new Apple Pay contactless payment service as it uses an NFC chip.  However, the Apple Watch will only support the iPhone 5 and above.

It also fully supports Siri voice control, as this is a much better way of interacting with your  smartwatch than trying to type on a smaller display. You can also send quick messages which you can draw with a finger on the display.

Similar to existing smartwatches, the Apple Watch also uses sensors to detect when you lift your wrist to look at it, and will power on accordingly.

Apple is distributing its WatchKit developer kit so expect bespoke applications to appear in due course, though we don't yet know how they're going to be distributed (ie: through the existing App Store, or a new side channel?)

It will be closely integrated with Apple Healthkit thanks to the suite of sensors for things like heart rate. A cool feature is that it will detect if you've been sitting still for an hour, vibrate if so, and then prompt you to move around for a few minutes - that can help stop deep vein thrombosis and the like.

Apple Watch Release Date & Price

The Apple Watch will get a release date in early 2015, however, Apple has not confirmed which markets will be getting it first. Prices will start at $349, although this is likely the entry-level model - naturally the 18-Karat gold models are aimed at the premium watch market and will probably cost quite a bit! 

"Apple aims to reset the wearable market and make 2014 year zero for wearables, as 2007 became the start of the true smartphone market because of the iPhone. But moving into a new category is a bold, expensive and risky effort. This Apple Watch is a first generation device, whether it is successful or not, Apple will aim to iterate and make it a must have companion for every iPhone owner," said IHS analyst Ian Fogg.

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