What is the Apple Watch?The Apple Watch is the first smartwatch from the iPhone 6 manufacturer and will launch in early 2015.
Apple announced the Apple Watch alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at an event on 9 September, where the wearable stole the show with its innovative features.
It features a custom iOS UI that offers wrist-worn app action with a press sensitive touch screen, haptic feedback and a special Digital Crown build into the Watch’s winder.
When it launches in early 2015, it will be up against the army of Android Wear devices already on the market, which by that time will include the Motorola Moto 360, Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch.
Apple Watch Release Date – When is the Apple Watch coming out?The Apple Watch release date isn’t due until sometime in early 2015. Although the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will launch on September 19, you won’t see the Apple Watch arrive until next year.
When it does go on sale, you’ll be able to choose from three model options though – each with two display sizes to complement the male and female wrists.
The standard Apple Watch model comes with a stainless steel or space black stainless steal case with the screen protected by sapphire crystal.
If you’re looking for something to keep up with you as you train, the Apple Watch Sport features an anodised aluminium case in silver or space grey with the screen protected with strengthened ion-X glass with colourful, durable band options.
Lastly, the Apple Watch Edition features an 18-carat gold face in yellow or rose, protected by sapphire crystal. It’s the premium edition of the Apple Watch and Apple describes it as “exquisitely crafted bands and closures”.
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Apple Watch: SpecsTo start off with, there will be two different sizes of the Apple Watch to choose from. The smaller option for women is 38mm tall, while the larger option is 42mm. That’s something that we haven’t seen from any of the Android or Android Wear alternatives so far.
Each Apple Watch is kitted out with a Retina display, which Apple claims is “extremely energy efficient”, although won’t give exact figures on how long the Watch will last.
The Apple Watch display can sense force via a new feature call Force Touch. This will allow the Apple Watch to distinguish between a tap and a press for more contextually specific controls.
Reacting to that, there’s also the Taptic Engine. This is a linear actuator within the Apple Watch that offers haptic feedback for your wrist, tapping you with notifications or on specific sides of your wrist for Apple Maps navigation.
The Watch also features a custom built hear rate sensor that uses infrared, visible-light LEDS and photodiodes to detect your pulse and heart rate. Combining this with data from the accelerometer and the GPs and Wi-Fi found in your iPhone, the Apple Watch can track your physical movement.
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Under the hood you’ll find the Apple S1 processor, which Apple states is “an entire computer architecture on a single chip.” There’s no specific specs for the S1 yet, but it is protected from the elements, wear and impact by resin.
It charges via an inductive charger that utilises Apple’s MagSafe technology. There’s no exposed contacts as it’s completely sealed. The aim is that you can connect the charger in the dark. Just holding the charger near the back of the watch causes the magnets to snap together, putting the charger in place quickly.
Apple Watch: FeaturesImmediately you’ll notice that the Apple Watch has a custom version of iOS, with all your apps presented in small circles with the Watch app always at the centre. The entire UI is customisable, so you can choose how the apps are presented on the home screen and how they appear in full screen on your wrist.
Although the Apple Watch features a touch screen, you’ll be using the Digital Crown built into the Watch’s winder as a main input method.
The Digital Crown is a unique take on the traditional watch winder and functions in a similar way. Turning the Digital Crown lets you scroll through results, zoom in and out on Apple Maps and other features too. Pushing it in takes you back to the Home Screen and gives you access to Siri, which is also built into the Apple Watch.
There are a range of watch faces to choose from and each one can be further customised with different colours of functions. These faces include options for stopwatches, weather updates, stock quotes and other glanceable information. Apple claims the opportunities for personalisation are “virtually endless”.
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Apps has been revamped for the Apple Watch. Messages, for example, lets you quick reply to texts and iMessages with automatically created answers taken from the content of the messages themselves. If you don’t fancy one of those answers you can reply with one of the new emojis instead. These can be customised too, as you can adjust the eyes and mouth of the faces for example, to make sure you’re portrayed the exact emotion you’re currently feeling.
Digital Touch means you could also reply with a little hand-drawn message instead. Sketch is used to draw something quickly, and your friend can see you drawing from their end.
There’s a new Walkie-Talkie app that lets you use the built-in speaker and microphone to trade sound bites, while Tap lets you send Morse Code style taps that will pulsate on your friend’s Apple Watch. Pressing two fingers on the screen records and sends your heartbeat to your friend, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Pressing the button beneath the Digital Crown brings up all your Friends that you’ve recently interacted with. You can send them any of the above with a tap from there.
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In terms of fitness, there’s the accelerometer built-in, but you’ll need to use the GPS and Wi-Fi from your phone to calculate how far you’ve travelled. To help that, Apple has introduced two new fitness apps to keep you motivated and track your progress.
The Activity app has a simple graphic to display your daily activity with a different coloured ring for each of the following: Move, Exercise and Stand. Move tracks the amount of calories you’ve burnt, Exercise shows the minute count of brisk activity undertaken, while the Stand ring tracks how long you’ve spent off your feet – encouraging you to get up off your bottom every now and then.
The Workout app is more intense. When you’re undertaking a dedicated cardio workout it’ll offer real time stats on the exercise time, distance travelled, calories burnt and the pace you’re keeping – whether that’s running, walking or cycling. All these stats are stored in the Activity app too.
To keep you motivated the Workout app sets you personalised daily goals, alerts you with reminders and gives you achievements for your perseverance.
As with the new features coming in iOS 8 and OS X Mavericks, the Apple Watch will let you start reading or doing something on your wrist and then pick it up later on the iPhone.
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Apple Watch: AppsAlthough the new WatchKit APIs have been released for third-party developers to get creating more apps for the Apple Watch, there’s a selection of pre-confirmed apps for Apple’s first smartwatch.
The Calendar app will give you glanceable information as to what events you’ve got coming up in your day-to-day life or on a weekly basis. You’ll be buzzed with event reminders and calendar invites that you can reply to straight away.
Maps is coming to Apple Watch too. You can navigate to your destination using turn-by-turn navigation that uses haptic feedback to touch your wrist with the direction you next need to take.
There’s PassBook coming too, storing all your boarding passes, tickets and other data on your wrist for easy access. Of course, Apple Watch will work with the new Apple Pay system when it launches next year.
As with the Android Wear watches, you can control your music on your wrist or control your Apple TV or iTunes library on your Mac or PC. The Apple Watch also acts as a remote viewfinder for the iSight camera on the iPhone or iPad too.
Apple Watch: PriceUK pricing for the Apple Watch has yet to be announced. However, during the launch event Apple did say it would retail from $350 in the US.
This equates to £220 in the UK, but we’d guess you’d be looking at something around the £300 mark rather than the direct conversion rate for the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch: CompatibilityThe Apple Watch is compatible with both new iPhone models, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But, it will also work with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C when it is released.
It’s not clear whether you’ll need to upgrade your old iPhone 5/5S/5C to iOS 8 before it will be compatible though. We have a hunch you’ll need to make the move to Apple’s latest mobile operating system first.
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