This Is The Apple Watch –– And There's One For EVERYBODY

News Richard Goodwin 10:04, 24 Mar 2015

Apple Watch release date confirmed for April. Here's EVERYTHING else you need to know about Apple's wearable

After months and months of speculation about features, pricing and how it will be marketed, the Apple Watch is 100% official. The hugely anticipated wearable has been the talk of the town since Apple first confirmed it was working on a smartwatch last year. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch alongside a new MacBook lineup at its usual haunt, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. 

Apple Watch Specs & Hardware

  • Sizes: 38mm and 42mm: 38 mm: 21.2 x 26.5 mm, 33.5 mm (1.32 in) diagonally, 272 x 340 pixels,
  • 42 mm: 24.3 x 30.5 mm, 39 mm (1.5 in) diagonally, 312 x 390 pixels
  • Versions: Apple Watch , Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition complete with a variety of strap choices for each model
  • Retina touchscreen display with Force Touch, and sapphire glass or Ion-X glass cover depending on model
  • Taptic Engine and built-in speaker for instant tactile feedback
  • Custom S1 SiP (System in Package) chip
  • Sensors: accelerometer, built-in heart rate sensor
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC support (for Apple Pay payments)
  • Digital Crown Home button
  • 18-hours battery life and MagSafe charging
  • Compatibility: iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple Pay and Siri support

In an interview with the Financial Times, Apple’s Jony Ive discussed some of the thought processes that went into designing the Apple Watch. According to Ive, the BIG difference between an iPhone and the Apple Watch is the effort involved in interacting with it:

“One of the things that struck me was how often I’d look at my watch and have to look again quite soon afterwards, because I hadn’t actually comprehended what the time was. If I had looked at something on my phone, because of the investment involved in taking it out of my pocket or my bag, I would certainly pay attention. I quite like this sense of almost being careless and just glancing,” said Apple’s Jony Ive. 

“Apple Watch will unquestionably sell in millions as there is pent-up demand from loyal super-fans who would likely buy millions even it only told the time. The key challenge Apple has to address today is giving ordinary iPhone owners a reason to buy its new smart watch. To date consumers have been left wondering why they need smart watch in their lives,” said Ben Wood, chief of research, CSS Insights. 

He added, discussing sales projections: “We predict that 20 million Apple Watches will be sold by the end of 2015. This is based on assessing the addressable market of compatible iPhones and also analysing initial iPad sales. We believe the iPad had similar characteristics to Apple Watch as it is a non-subsidised device which consumers bought without a clear understanding of exactly why they needed it. Apple will be hoping consumers will ‘grow into’ the Apple Watch in the same way that iPad owners did.

Save for the Apple TV, the Apple Watch –– well, at least the base model –– is one of the cheapest products Apple has ever released, with a starting price of $349. However, in the same breath it's also the most expensive, as Apple revealed the base cost for the premium, gold-plated Apple Watch Edition starts at...wait for it...$10,000. Yes you read that correctly. It is this type of angling by Apple which has many a pundit frothing at the mouth about the potential tied up in Apple’s first foray into the wearables space. Could it be the product that helps Apple reduce its reliance on the iPhone?

Steve Wozniak, in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, regaled readers with his thoughts on Apple’s new product line, the Apple Watch. Wozniak, still an honorary Apple employee and new Ozzie resident, said he watched the launch of Apple’s first wearable with bated breath, but neglected to confirm whether or not he’d eventually invest in one long term –– he’s apparently going to try the entry level model first, before taking the plunge with a more expensive model. The Apple founder admitted to trying a few Samsung wearable devices, too, but these were almost immediately discarded once the novelty had worn off. 

“If you buy the really high-priced ones, the jewellery ones, then you're not buying a smartwatch that has a bunch of apps … Like a Rolex watch, you're buying if for prestige and a label and a symbol of who you are,” Mr Wozniak said. “The fact is the difference between a $10,000 watch and a $17,000 dollar watch is only the band, and for an engineer like me I don't live in that world, that's not my world.”

Apple Watch Release Date

The Apple Watch will be available on pre-order from April 10 ahead of its April 24 release date. The base model will retail for $349, as previously reported, while the top of the line, Kayne West-style Apple Watch Edition will retail for a bankrupting $10,000 –– yep, we were shocked by that figure too. 

Apple Store employees began training about the product late-on in 2014 ahead of the date. The Apple Watch is the first new product category Apple has launched since 2010’s iPad. It’s also the first product that Steve Jobs apparently had no say in. Nope. The Apple Watch was all Tim Cook, apparently. No doubt with a little help from Mr. Jony Ive. 

“Apple needs to prove why consumers need a smartwatch to confirm this is a mass market and to meet the expectations Apple has raised about the smartwatch category. If Apple succeeds, other smartwatch makers will benefit from the increased addressable market. If Apple fails to make a case, then the smartwatch category will remain a niche and all smartwatch makers will suffer,” said Antonios Maroulis, Analyst, IHS Technology. 

“The smartwatch market is still undefined. We are at a time similar to the point when Apple launched the iPhone into the smartphone market. All kinds of companies, smartphone OEMs, start-ups, wristwatch makers, are trying to catch the eye of consumers. Apple must ensure the Apple Watch's signature features are not easy for competitors to implement on their smartwatch designs to maintain differentiation.

“By offering 12 variants of its smartwatch, Apple is hoping to cater to every fashion. But with two watch sizes, two watch colours and three versions, Apple must be careful to maintain the right mix of inventory to meet consumer demand.”

Apple Watch Price

Apple Watch is available in three collections and two sizes for each collection, starting with Apple Watch Sport, priced at £299 inc VAT and £339 inc VAT; Apple Watch, available from £479 inc VAT to £949 inc VAT; and Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys, with prices starting at £8,000 inc VAT.

But which Apple Watch is right for you? Mike took a look at all the combinations and models in order to find out. 

Apple Watch will also be available to preview or try on at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo and Selfridges in London on April 10. Apple Watch will be for sale on April 24 at these select department store shop-in-shops, and at boutiques in major cities across the world including  Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles, and The Corner in Berlin.

Pebble is one of the most successful wearable brands on the planet, so you’d think it would have an opinion on the Apple Watch. Turns out it does. Speaking to IBTimes, Pebble CTO Andrew Witte discussed Apple’s entry to the space, what it means for wearables in general and why the Apple Watch isn’t a done deal by any stretch of the imagination. 

“Our well-established ecosystem means that Apple still has some catching up to do,” said Witte. “We’ve already explored that app-based model and now we’ve built something a little bit better and more natural for interacting with smartwatches.”

“The Pebble has a much better battery life and we’ve found that the timeline interface we use is the way most people want to interact with smartwatches. The customisable aspect is also important for people, while the price point is obviously a lot less than Apple’s offerings, so it’s much more accessible.”

When asked about the wider affects of Apple’s entry to the space, Witte said: “I’m really excited that Apple is entering the space. The Apple Watch will obviously drive awareness to wearables and get the message out to a wider audience. But a lot of folks will decide that the Apple Watch isn’t for them and realise that there are other options out there better suited to them. I’m excited because we’re in a good position to take advantage of this.”

Apple Watch Battery 

Apple CEO Tim Cook has come out and admitted what many already assumed to be the case: the Apple Watch will need to be charged everyday. Cook was speaking at the WSJ.D conference in California when he said the Apple Watch will need to be charged daily but insisted the device is still “profound”.

He also confirmed the Apple Watch will not be the big money-spinner for the company right away. Cook said the iPhone "will continue to be a majority of the company’s revenue and profits for the foreseeable future". 

The Apple Watch uses its own, specialised MagSafe charging system and the cable you’ll be using ships with the device itself. The system is designed to be really easy to use, as noted by Apple on its Apple Watch webpage:

“We wanted to make charging your Apple Watch utterly effortless. So we arrived at a solution that combines our MagSafe technology with inductive charging. It’s a completely sealed system free of exposed contacts. And it’s very forgiving, requiring no precise alignment. You simply hold the connector near the back of the watch, where magnets cause it to snap into place automatically.

From flat, the Apple Watch can hit 80% charge inside 1.5 hours. For a full charge from flat, the Apple Watch takes just over 2.5 hours. 

Details about how applications on the Apple Watch have been posted online by Bloomberg. According to the report, Apple is very keen on ensuring the apps and content that run on Apple Watch are useful and not at all annoying. For this reason, the company has outlined some pretty strict guidelines for developers to ensure there is no negative affect on the Apple Watch’s battery from applications being open too long. Everything affects battery from the screen to vibrations for notifications. 

Apple is apparently very focused on getting EVERYTHING right

“Apple has recommended that developers be judicious about interrupting people with constant alerts that will buzz their wrist or drain the battery. If desktop computers can be used for hours at a time, and smartphones for minutes, the watch is being measured in seconds. Apple is suggesting developers design their applications to be used for no longer than 10 seconds at a time,” said the report.

A report from The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, claims Apple has a secret tool up its sleeve to ensure better battery performance abaord its Apple Watch: “Apple’s watch team ‘developed a yet-to-be-announced feature called Power Reserve.’ As the name implies,” says BGR, “the Apple Watch in Power Reserve mode will run on low energy and will only display the time. Which is to say, all of the device’s other functions such as notifications and activity monitoring will presumably go into a sleep mode in an effort to conserve juice.”

Apple Watch Design, Display & Build –– How It All Fits Together 

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.

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