Everything you need to know about the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch release date has come to pass, with Apple’s first foray into the wearables space now available for purchase, sort of.
Although Apple originally confirmed the smartwatch would launch on April 24, the wearable is still not available in any retail stores and won’t be anytime soon. What’s more, only a few advanced orders were fulfilled on day one.
With prices starting from £299 for the base-level Apple Watch Sport – rising to a whopping £13,500 for the solid gold Apple Watch Edition – much attention continues to be heaped on the Moto 360 rival.
Having long been the subject of rumour and speculation, the Apple Watch was originally unveiled alongside the iPhone 6 and oversized iPhone 6 Plus last September. The past seven months saw the Asus ZenWatch rival make a slow, and sometimes arduous, crawl to market.
Finally, Apple is letting you order the LG G Watch R challenger, with a massive 38 different Apple Watch options currently available to choose from.
With three versions of the timepiece having landed – the entry-level, aluminium bodied Apple Watch Sport, the standard, stainless steel Apple Watch, and the high-end, 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition – each range will be offered in both 38mm and 42mm forms.
What’s more, all three lines are available with a mass of strap options and colour schemes to further let you best customise your own Apple Watch experience.
Despite being far from the first smartwatch to hit the market, the Apple Watch is widely expected to kick the wearables space onto new heights following its impending launch. Despite just 720,000 Android Wear devices having been sold through the entirety of 2014, day one pre-orders in the US alone were said to have topped 1 million units.
It features a custom-built UI that proffers a host of wrist-borne apps, as well as a pressure-sensitive touchscreen, ‘taptic’ haptic feedback, and the Digital Crown – Apple’s wristwatch-inspired winder input.
This isn’t a one product market though, the Apple Watch has some stiff competition from the existing raft of wearable Android Wear and Tizen fare, including the Samsung Gear S.
We will continue to update this page with all the latest Apple Watch release date details, leaks, news and rumours as information emerges. Bookmark it now to ensure you are kept in the loop on all things surrounding Apple’s debut wearable.
Apple Watch Release Date
After months and months of waiting, the Apple Watch release date has now been and gone. Sadly, not many of the watches actually stopped off on the April 24 release, however.
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Apple announced its wearable debut would be available for purchase on April 24. Sadly, this wasn’t actually the case. Yes, early pre-orders started shipping from that late April date, but you still can’t walk in off the street and pick one up.
Not at Apple Stores at least. Six boutique retailers around the world offered day one stock, including London’s Dover Street Market.
The mainstream wait looks set to continue, however, with Apple’s retail chief recently confirmed that the timepiece might not hit brick and mortar stores until June.
This mid-summer in-store availability will coincide with when most pre-orders will be sent out to customers. Within 20 minutes of pre-orders kicking off, shipping times had been pushed back two months. It is believed that this is due to severe stock shortages of the Moto 360 rival.
The first Apple Watch pre-orders will be fulfilled for customers in
Australis, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the US and,
fortunately for us, the UK.
While you wait for your pre-order to arrive, you can go and look at the wearable. Apple is currently letting you visit select stores and test out all three models of the Apple Watch, with the Apple Watch Edition being surrounded by a group of heavies – just in case you try and walk off with the top-end £13,500 model.
Pre-empting the stock shortages, pre-release reports revealed that yield rates on the smartwatch are at just a third of the numbers Apple had hoped to achieve.
What’s more, certain retailers said early that they would not be stocking the device, despite wishing to do so. High street seller Carphone Warehouse was one such retailer to reveal it had been snubbed by Apple for day-one availability.
“We would love to be able to stock the Apple Watch,” Carphone Warehouse UK CEO, Graham Stapleton, said in a recent interview.
He added: “I’ve got to be careful what I say but I think they are just going another way with it. We have not been given the opportunity.”
Apple Watch Specs
The Apple Watch specs sheet was one long shrouded in mystery. While much was known, there remained a few gaps in the public knowledge right up until launch. Fortunately, that’s now all changed.
To start off with, there are three models and two different sizes of the Apple Watch to choose from. The smaller option for dainty wrists is 38mm tall, while the larger option is 42mm. This is something we’ve failed to see from any of the Android Wear alternatives so far, and a move sure to appease the female market.
The Apple Watch’s design isn’t a hit with everyone, however. According to prestigious watchmaker Roger W. Smith, who was named as one of the 15 greatest watchmakers by The Wall Street Journal in 2013, dubbed the device ‘bland’.
“To me, I just find an Apple Watch a bit bland really,” Smith said in a recent interview.
There is also speculation Apple could have sacrificed battery life in favour of style. Each Apple Watch is kitted out with a Retina display. Although Apple has claimed this is an “extremely energy efficient” option, precise Apple Watch battery life figures are reported as around 18 hours ‘normal’ use on a single charge.
Tim Cook hinted early that the Apple Watch’s staying power wouldn’t be the best, revealing the device would require charging every day. The CEO said: “We think that people are going to use it so much you will wind up charging it daily.”
In fact, Tim Cook confirmed that average use will get you around 18 hours from a single charge. On paper that’s a lot less than the competition like theMoto 360, but in reality you’ll probably get around the same life out of all the smartwatches.
In terms of resolution, the developer kit revealed the smaller Apple Watch touts a 1.5-inch 272 x 340 display, while the larger variant will boast a 1.65-inch 312 x 390 panel.
The Apple Watch screen can sense applied pressure via a new feature call Force Touch. This allows the device 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 heart 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.
According to recent reports, however, the Apple Watch could have been so much more.
Described by claimed insiders as a ‘black hole project’ – due to its ability to suck up resources over a four year development cycle – the Apple watch was originally intended to be a state-of-the-art health-monitoring device.
It has been suggested early plans saw the gadget capable of measuring a wearer’s blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels, and a number of other health metrics.
Unfortunately, as production complications and unit prices grew, Apple was forced to strip back its ambitions.
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.
Like many of its Android Wear rivals, the Apple Watch requires a bespoke charger. The wearable 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 Battery Life
Like most smartwatches, the main topic of contention for Apple (aside from pricing) is the Apple Watch’s battery life. ‘How long with the Apple Watch last?’ cry the legions of cash-in-hand fans.
Apple confirmed that average daily use will get you 18 hours of action from a single charge. That probably means you get around the same life out of the Apple Watch as rivals like the Samsung Gear S or LG G Watch.
Tim Cook has been very vocal about his aim for the Apple Watch to require nightly charging, which is at least a somewhat reasonable goal.
A mere 18-hour-long charge cycle might not be enough to assuage consumer concerns however, and could see the Apple Watch struggling to woo analogue-wielding watch fanatics.
Apple Watch Features
There are enough unique Apple Watch features to help distinguish this from the throng of other smartwatches already doing the rounds. Immediately 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, too, 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 the primary 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.
If you’re struggling to get in sync with your new Apple Watch, Apple is offering in-store training sessions.
There is also a range of watch faces to choose from, and each one can be further customised with different colours or 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 have been revamped for the Apple Watch too. 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.
EA has also revealed it’s already looking to develop game content for the Apple Watch, although the details on this remain unsurprisingly murky for now.
Apple Watch Apps
On day one there were a massive 3,000 Apple Watch apps available for download. These range from the must-haves such as Twitter, Facebook and Evernote to more useful additions – Uber, Amazon Shopping and CitiMapper – to the more entertaining – Instagram, Buzzfeed and The Guardian.
All of these can wait though. The first app you’ll need to get to grips with is ‘Companion’, outed as part of the iOS 8.2 beta build. The Companion app will let users customise the Apple Watch home screen via a virtual view on the iPhone.
The app will offer features like custom watch faces, notification delivery alerts, and even ‘Stand Reminders’ that will poke users when they’ve been parked on their backsides for too long.
You’ll also be able to control more prosaic aspects of the watch, namely accessibility and passcode settings, all through the Companion app.
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 as well, 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. Currently available in the US, Apple Pay is expected to launch in the UK this year.
Back in September it was revealed that the Apple Watch would shut down access to the user’s credit card information once the device breaks contact with the body – as discerned by the raft of sensors inside.
To provide access to Apple Pay functionality once more, users will need to enter a PIN-code once the watch is back on its rightful wrist.
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.
It’s also been confirmed that Nimblebit, the maker of the Tiny Tower game for iOS, is planning to launch one of the first third-party games for the Apple Watch.
The project is called ‘Letterpad’, and will land as a simple word game that requires players to create as many words as possible from a choice of 9 letters.
Helping developers prep their dedicated apps ahead of launch, Apple reportedly allowed pre-release behind closed door sessions with the wearable. The likes of Facebook and BMW are said to have been given early access.
Apple Watch Price
One thing the Apple Watch is not, is cheap. The long list of Apple Watch prices, for all models and all size options, goes from wallet-worryingly expensive to downright ridiculous. That’s quite the list, seeing as there’s 10 Watch Sport, 20 Apple Watch and 8 Edition models.
The Apple Watch Sport pricing is in two bands. The 38mm is £299, while the 42mm model is £339. You just choose which colour Sport Band you want – Black, Red, Green, Blue or White.
Deep pockets will be needed if you’re thinking of splashing out on the top of the line Apple Watch Edition, however, as the model will set wannabe owners back at least £8,000.
If this is a little beyond your budget but you covet the gold-themed bling, TrustedReviews has learned that gilders will offer gold plating services on the entry-level Apple Watch Sport.
The standard Apple Watch price points are as follows:
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band – £479
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band – £519
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport Band – £479
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport Band – £519
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Classic Buckle – £559
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Classic Buckle – £599
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop – £559
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop – £599
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Modern Buckle – £649
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Leather Loop – £599
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Midnight Blue Modern Buckle – £649
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Bright Blue Leather Loop – £599
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Soft Pink Modern Buckle – £649
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Stone Leather Loop – £599
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Brown Modern Buckle – £649
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Light Brown Leather Loop – £599
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Link Bracelet – £819
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Link Bracelet – £859
- 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Stainless Steel Link Bracelet – £899
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Stainless Steel Link Bracelet – £949
As for the solid gold Apple Watch Edition, prices are as follows:
- 38mm 18-Carat Rose Gold Case with White Sport Band – £8,000
- 42mm 18-Carat Rose Gold Case with White Sport Band – £9,500
- 38mm 18-Carat Yellow Gold Case with Black Sport Band – £8,000
- 42mm 18-Carat Yellow Gold Case with Black Sport Band – £9,500
- 38mm 18-Carat Rose Gold Case with Rose Grey Modern Buckle – £13,500
- 42 mm 18-Carat Yellow Gold Case with Black Classic Buckle – £12,000
For those with more money than sense, modders are already offering Apple Watches in all manner of gaudy getups.
Headling this list of bling-bragging wearables is Goldgenie’s £110,000 Apple Watch Spectrum. The frankly ridiculous modifications include dozens of precision-cut diamonds and a solid gold body.
The bank-breaking wearable will set wannabe owners back a massive 368 times the entry-level Apple Watch Sport.
Apple Watch Compatibility
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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