After years of rumours and speculation, Apple on Tuesday unveiled its first wearable device, officially called “Apple Watch.” It starts at $US349 and will be available in early 2015.
There are two different sizes of Apple Watch for men and women, and three distinct collections: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition, which is made from 18-karat gold — rose or yellow.
You can personalise the watchfaces, as well as their capabilities. You can choose a modular watchface with digital information showing the time, date, and weather; a watchface that shows you astronomy, or where the sun is in the sky; animated watchfaces with butterflies or Mickey Mouse; a simple watchface that simply shows you the time; and many more.
You can also choose from up to six differently-designed straps, which offers different types of functionality: A sportband is sweat- and chemical-resistant, while the leather loop is soft and quilted for fastening and adjustment. The modern leather buckle closes with a solid metal clasp that goes symmetrically around the wrist. There’s a classic buckle, too, and there’s also a stainless steel link bracelet.
There’s also a Milanese loop that’s formed from stainless steel mesh that’s “infinitely adjustable.”
With a crown on the side, which allows you to navigate the watch without blocking the screen, the Apple Watch features a shrunk-down version of iOS 8, highly specialised for Apple Watch. The digital crown, when held down, will also activate Siri.
You view all of your apps as tiny circles on the screen, and touch each one to open it. To zoom into objects, you use the Apple Watch’s digital crown.
You can also swipe through information efficiently, and you can even share data with other watches nearby. You can send drawings and taps to friends in a Snapchat-esque way, since the drawings almost immediately disappear after they appear on the receiver’s Apple Watch.
“We’re not quite finished yet,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said, before introducing the Apple Watch. “We have one more thing.”
“We love to make technology more personal and allow our users to do things they never have imagined,” Cook said. “We have been working incredibly hard for a long time on an entirely new product.”
Besides the digital crown, it senses touch and the display also senses force. Tiny electrodes around the display recognise the difference between a tap and a press, which provides instant access to a wide set of contextually specific controls.
There’s something called the S1, which encapsulates the electronics inside and basically miniaturizes the entire computer system into the size of a single chip.
There’s a gyroscope, accelerometer to give you an idea of your fitness milestones. There’s also a unique charging solution: It’s not wireless, but a magnetic plug can attach to the Apple Watch at any orientation.
“A precise, customisable timepiece. It’s completely customisable so you can find one that reflects your personal style and taste.”
“I am so excited and so proud to share it with you this morning. It is the next chapter in Apple’s story. And here it is.”
There’s also a huge focus on fitness. It will keep track of your goals, how long you’ve been sitting, or standing. You can also create and set workouts based on distance or calories you want to burn. And during your workout, you can see from a glance how far, or how long, you’ve been at it.
There’s a ton of other features as well: You can control your Apple TV with the Apple Watch, or use it as a viewfinder for your iPhone’s camera.
The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to work. It will work with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5. This means 200 million people can already use Apple Watch.
The device was previously rumoured to be called “iWatch” or “iBand.”
Previous reports said the iWatch would run on iOS 8, the company’s latest software update for mobile devices, and be able to connect and communicate with the company’s other gadgets, like iPhones, Mac computers, and Apple TV.
It was rumoured the device would connect to those devices using Bluetooth 4.0, which has been included in every iPhone since the iPhone 4S, but also be able to complete standalone functions like tracking and measuring one’s biometrics like heart rate and oxygen levels, as well as control aspects of one’s home environment via HomeKit.
Competing fitness bands from Nike and Jawbone cost about $US100, while the first Android Wear devices from Samsung and LG cost about $US200.