In the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “the Apple Watch is the most advanced timepiece ever created.” Let’s see how that translates into reality and wrap up all the details of the Apple Watch. In September 2014, Apple debuted its upcoming smartwatch – the Apple Watch – in a landmark event that really acted to tease the tech and watch world. Apple revealed enough about the Apple Watch to get everyone excited, but failed to discuss some of the most important elements about the Apple Watch, such as price details for all the models, battery life, and how the Apple Watch would fully integrate into the Apple software and hardware ecosystem outside of it needing to pair with an iPhone.
In fact, one of my personal biggest questions regarding Apple Watch ownership is how easy will it be to own two which are synced together? Let’s say you want an Apple Watch Sport for exercise, and an Apple Watch in steel for more daily running around? Can both live together nicely? These and many other questions have been pondered and discussed by the tech journalism industry for many months now. Covering smartwatches and namely the Apple Watch has been a very unique experience for me, because for the first time, I feel as though I am writing about something so much of the world seems to care about.
Compare that with high-end watches and other luxury items which by nature are niche in their appeal or affordability. It’s a brave new world for watches – which the Apple Watch certainly is. My continuing hope is that watches – as an item people wear on a daily basis – make a come back, and that useful, connected electronic watches are the dominant player (which I think implies that the basic quartz watch might not have the brightest of futures) leaving room for enthusiasts and collectors to enjoy traditional mechanical watches in a new way, with a new scope of appreciation from their peers.
So, on to what you need to know about the upcoming release and sale of the Apple watch. Today, on March 9, 2015, I joined Apple in San Francisco at their “Spring Forward” event to learn the full Apple Watch release details in advance of its April 2015 release date.
Personally, I’d like to think that Apple chose to intentionally release the full Apple Watch details during an event exactly one week from the official start of Baselworld 2015 – the watch industry’s major trade show event that occurs each year in Basel, Switzerland. In covering the Apple Watch hands-on here, and in other instances, I’ve mentioned that unlike many other modern wearable electronic “smartwatch” devices, the Apple Watch was designed by people very much inspired by the traditional watch industry. In touching and feeling the Apple Watch, you certainly get that feeling. Apple did not just decided to produce a wearable computer that fits the Apple brand DNA, Apple wanted to produce something that felt like a modern extension of the traditional watch industry – and for this reason, I believe it is important to Apple that the Apple Watch has an impact on Baselworld, as well as the watch industry overall.
Apple will more than likely get what they want, because in advance of the retail release of the Apple Watch in April, people in the watch and tech industries are going to be talking about all these new Apple Watch details ad nauseum. I also predict an unprecedented amount of smartwatch and smartwatch-like devices to be released or debuted at Baselworld 2015, both from major brands like TAG Heuer, as well as from a slew of smaller or new watch makers eager to capture a slice of the world’s hunger for high-quality and interesting connected electronic wearable devices. I recently debuted the MMT Horological Smartwatch platform that does a good job of bridging the gap between the conservative watch industry and the modern smartwatch industry. So let’s focus on what Apple revealed today on March 9th, 2015, about the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch Battery Life
When Apple debuted the Apple Watch back in September 2014, there was no specific mention as to the battery life. Like all portable electronics, the specific battery life is going to depend on someone’s particular usage and how often they are using it. We knew that in order to preserve some battery life, the Apple Watch was going to off-load some computational tasks to the iPhone. That, of course, opens up the question of how much of a drain on the iPhone’s battery life the Apple Watch will be.
While Apple never specifically mentioned an estimated battery life before, it seemed pretty clear from a few things that Tim Cook mentioned that like an iPhone, the Apple Watch would need to be charged on a daily basis. Apple says the Apple Watch, regardless whether we are looking at the 38 or 42 millimeters wide version, will have “a battery life of 18 hours during a typical day.”
Many competitors have released more technically simple smartwatches with much longer battery life in a hope that they will appeal to consumers who simply don’t want something else to remember to charge each day. I totally sympathize with that, but there is no getting around the fact that a full-color screen with a backlight, as well as regular Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity are a serious drain on power. Apple may not offer the most impressive battery life on the smartwatch market, but you might think of it as a sacrifice for functionality and features.
Apple Watch – New Details
Apple released a lot more necessary technical details about the Apple Watch today – as well as more information on what owning and wearing the Apple Watch will be like. Here is the thing people need to understand: while reading the tech specs on paper about the Apple Watch are useful, since most people don’t have previous experience or expectations from a smartwatch such as this, a lot of the little nuances and meticulous attention to detail engineered not only into the hardware but also the software of the device will really only make sense once you wear it. For example, the Apple Watch is a notification device, but it doesn’t want to annoy you with outdated or unimportant notifications. To appreciate this, you first need to have tested a smartwatch that did annoy you with notifications, and then appreciate what it means to curate notifications properly. This is just the type of thing that anyone can understand in theory, but truly making sense of how it will effect you only comes through personal experience.
Connectivity And Sharing
Getting the apps installed on your Apple Watch will happen through the App Store on the iPhone, using the Apple Watch section of the store. When it comes to sharing, being a smart device, the Apple Watch creates intimate ways to communicate with other people who have Apple Watches. It was referred to as a “Digital Touch”: by pressing the button next to the Digital Crown one can access “Friends,” where you’ll see thumbnails of the people you like to stay in touch with most. Tap to send a message, make a call, or share your heart rate with the friend you selected.
Apple places a new emphasis on medical research with ResearchKit, a software framework made specifically for this purpose. Using the HealthKit set of apps it turns the iPhone and Apple Watch into powerful diagnostic tools: basically, the iPhone and Apple Watch universe will contribute to collecting quantitative health data which is historically hard to get. While Apple concentrated on the iPhone’s role in this system, it will be interesting to see how the apps in ResearchKit will find their ways onto the Apple Watch. In the long term, as the development unfolds, the watch and phone will be able to gather data throughout the day, providing data that is collected not once every few weeks or months, but once every second. This is unquestionably a bold new way of using the personal nature a wristwatch.
User-Customizable Watch Dials
When it comes to the primary function of a watch, telling time, Apple wants to provide a seemingly endless variety of dials – Apple wants you to be able to change the faces all the time. This variety of watch faces will be key for personalization and artistic value, as users can add and remove elements on the face.
Once we move on from telling time, “Glances” allows you to easily see things you use regularly. By swiping up from the bottom of the watch you can see your weather, calendar, or your heart rate, with the slides taking up the entire screen and displaying the most important pieces of information from all those apps.
New Details About Case Materials And Construction
Apple’s aluminum alloy will be used for the Apple Watch Sport. Apple says the anodized aluminum used is “exceptionally pure,” 60% stronger than standard alloys but just as light. It will be available in silver and space gray. Adding strength to aluminum as a material is important – especially for a watch that will be used while working out or doing sports – as aluminum watches are notoriously easy to scratch and ding, and are considerably more difficult to repair when compared to stainless steel. The Retina display is protected by strengthened Ion-X glass and matching high-performance “fluoroelastomer” Sport Band in five colors.
The Apple Watch will be housed in cold-forged stainless steel cases, making them up to 80% harder. The steel will be finished in traditional high polish or DLC-coated “space black,” the display will be covered with a sapphire crystal. The Apple Watch Edition has been subject of a lot of speculation as many were not sure if it was going to be cased in gold-coated stainless steel or indeed solid gold. It turns out that the Apple Watch Edition is cased in solid gold, 18k yellow gold or 18k rose gold, to be specific. Apple says they are using special alloys developed to be twice as hard as standard gold so as to make the gold cases more resistant to impacts and scratches. The Retina display on the Apple Watch Edition will be protected by polished sapphire crystal.
The Apple Watch requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2. or later (with iOS 8.2 being made available for download today). Nevertheless, the Apple Watch will run a large variety of powerful apps, designed to save the wearer from taking out his or her phone. The most interesting and surprising of these might be taking phone calls, as the watch will allow the wearer to reject or answer calls for “quick chats,” or transfer the calls to the iPhone for longer conversations. With the built-in microphone, you can also dictate text, set up reminders, or send voice messages.
Furthermore, Apple Pay will allow making payments using the watch only, the PassBook app will automatically pull your boarding pass when you are near the airport, and the SPG app will allow you to check into your hotel and unlock your room’s door, and Apple has partnered with Starwood Hotels for this – all using the watch’s wireless connectivity.
Apple Watch Pricing For All Models
When Apple debuted the Apple Watch, the only pricing information they released was the starting price of the 38mm Apple Watch Sport which would be priced at $349. This led to wild speculation for months over what the full price range of the Apple Watch would be – especially when it came to the various 18k gold cased Apple Watch Edition models. I’ve speculated that the Apple Watch could be priced as high as $20,000 in 18k gold with a full gold bracelet.
The Apple Watch Sport in the 38-millimeter wide case in Apple’s proprietary aluminum alloy in silver or space gray will be priced at $349 and $399 for the 42-millimeter wide version and will come on high-performance “fluoroelastomer Sport Bands” sold in five colors. The Apple Watch in steel will be priced between $549-$1049, featuring stainless steel cases in traditional and space black finishing and will come with a choice of three different leather straps, a stainless steel link bracelet, a Milanese loop, and a black or white Sport Band. Prices for the Apple Watch Edition in solid 18k yellow or rose gold will start from $10,000.
Apple Watch bands will range in price from $49 to $449. The cheapest option at $49 is the sports band, the leather loop and the leather strap with classic buckle will be $149, while the strap with modern buckle is $249 and, last but not least, the link bracelet will be available at $449.
Apple Watch Release Date & Availability
You will be able to pre-order – and in select Apple Retail Stores also to try on – the Apple Watch starting from the 10th of April. The different models will be available for purchase starting on April 24, 2015, in the following nine countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States. apple.com