It’s here! Apple Watch launch date finally revealed

Apple has lifted the veil on the Apple Watch, revealing its special features and announcing it will officially be available Friday, April 24 in nine countries – not including New Zealand. Apple says the Watch is an accurate timepiece, an immediate communication device, and a health and fitness companion.

It can be personally customised, provides a new way to receive information at a glance, and can be used with third-party apps designed specifically for the wrist as well as those that are already popular, such as Instagram, Nike+ Running, Shazam and Twitter. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, says, “Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it.

“We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”

Jony Ive, Apple senior vice president of design, says, “Conceived, designed and developed as a singular product, Apple Watch merges hardware and software like never before.

“In Apple Watch, we’ve created three beautifully curated collections with a software architecture that together enable unparalleled personalisation in a wearable device.”

Apple Watch introduces new technologies including Digital Crown, which is a new way to scroll, zoom and navigate fluidly without obstructing the display. Force Touch senses the difference between a tap and a press and provides a new way to quickly and easily access relevant controls, and the Taptic Engine discreetly delivers a gentle tap to the wrist whenever a user receives a notification or message. The Apple Watch is available in two different sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm, and in three collections: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition.

Apple Watch Sport features a lightweight anodised aluminum case in silver and space gray. It has a retina display protected by strengthened Ion-X glass and matching high-performance fluoroelastomer sport band in five colors. The Apple Watch collection features stainless steel and space black stainless steel cases with a retina display protected by sapphire crystal. This option comes with a choice of three different leather straps, a stainless steel link bracelet and Milanese loop, and a black or white Sport Band. Apple Watch Edition features cases in custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys developed to be twice as hard as standard gold, a retina display protected by polished sapphire crystal and a choice of straps and bands with 18-karat gold clasps, buckles or pins.

The new Apple Watch app that comes with iOS 8.2 on iPhone enables users to browse, buy and download apps from the Apple Watch App Store. Apple says the device has up to an 18-hour all-day battery life and comes with a charging solution that combines Apple’s MagSafe technology with inductive charging for a quick connection. Battery life will depend on device settings, usage and other factors, and actual results may vary, Apple says.

Pricing and availability

Beginning April 10 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US, Apple Watch will be available for preview, try-on by appointment at Apple’s retail stores, and available for pre-order through the Apple Online Store.

On April 24, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple authorised resellers in China and Japan. Customers who purchase online or in-store from Apple will be offered personal setup to customise and pair Apple Watch with their iPhone.

The Apple Watch Sport is priced at $349 (US) and $399 (US); the Apple Watch is available from $549 (US) to $1,099 (US); and prices for the Apple Watch Edition start at $10,000 (US).

Starting today customers can explore and choose their Apple Watch in the Apple Online Store through the Apple Store app for iPhone and iPad.

The device requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2. or later. iOS 8.2 will be available for download today.

In a statement, Apple highlighted several key features of the Apple Watch:

As a timepiece

As a timepiece, Apple says this new device is ‘extremely precise’ and keeps time to within 50 milliseconds of UTC, the universal time standard. However, accuracy depends on regular syncing with iPhone.

The device can be personalised with watch faces ranging from traditional analog such as the chronograph face, to the modular face which is ‘information-rich’, or the motion face which features animated butterflies and jellyfish.

It also includes specialised functions on the watch face such as the sunrise/sunset, upcoming calendar events or daily activity level.

The Apple Watch has a large range of possible configurations, and users can swipe up from the watch face for ‘Glances’ that quickly show information they care about, such as the weather forecast, their current location on a map or the music they’re listening to.

As a communication device

Apple Watch enables users to send messages, read email and answer calls to an iPhone from their wrist.

What is known as the ‘Taptic Engine’ alerts users with a gentle tap so they won’t miss important notifications.

With Digital Touch, the Apple Watch allows users to communicate in new ways. For instance, they can send a sketch, a tap or even the rhythm of a heartbeat.

Apple Pay enables users to pay quickly and conviently (although this is currently only available in the US through participating banks), Passbook can act as a user’s boarding pass, and Siri can provide turn-by-turn directions in Maps.

As a health and fitness companion

With an accelerometer, a built-in heart rate sensor, GPS and Wi-Fi from an iPhone, Apple Watch uses sensors for different types of motion and provides a comprehensive picture of a user’s all-day activity and workouts.

The Activity app on the watch provides a visual snapshot of a user’s daily activity with three rings that measure active calories burned, brisk activity and how often they’ve stood up to take a break from sitting during the day.

With the Workout app, Apple Watch provides detailed metrics during dedicated workout sessions for the most popular activities, such as walking, running and cycling.

The Activity app on iPhone collects activity and workout data from Apple Watch to see a user’s history in greater detail. This history can then be used to suggest personalised activity goals and reward fitness milestones.

– Caroline Knowles at NetGuide