Apple has announced the Apple Watch, a revolutionary wearable that comes in three versions: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition.
Apple Watch Design
The standard Apple Watch comes in stainless steel with a sapphire glass display, while the Sport model features an Aluminium body, and the Edition model comes in 18-carat gold.
The watch is highly customisable, including over a million different combinations. Several different straps are available, in various materials, including leather, metal, and fluoroelastomer, a rubbery material that’s perfect for sport. Combined with the customisable watch faces, there are thousands of different combinations.
The Apple Watch will also be available in two different sizes – a 38mm high model, and a 42mm high model, presumably to cater for different sized wrists.
The device will link to an iPhone and track health data such as heart rate, steps and elevation. It is compatible with the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, and the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It pairs using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and an iPhone is required for the Apple Watch to work.
The Apple Watch includes versions of existing Apple apps, like Siri, Photos, Maps and Calendar, but is not an iPhone shrunk to the size of a watch. Apple have worked on a brand new interface that will help you navigate through apps.
There are third-party apps, too; on-stage, Apple demoed Twitter and Facebook, but it is releasing an Apple Watch development kit that will allow others to add their apps to the watch.
The Apple Watch uses a touch-screen interface, but there’s more than just a touch-screen. On the side of the watch is a dial, which functions more like a scroll wheel from an old-school iPod. You can turn this ‘Digital Crown’ to scroll through lists, zoom in and out of photo albums, maps and even your app view, and click it in to perform several different functions.
As well as this, Apple has added a Force Touch control. The display will know when you are pressing into the screen, so you can push in on the screen to bring up contextual menus no matter where you are in the menus.
The Apple Watch will switch on when you raise your hand to check the time, and another button on the side of the device, below the Digital Crown, will help you access Siri, which is built-into the Apple Watch. You can also use your voice to reply to text messages, either as a voice clip or as a dictated message.
Finally, there is a brand new Digital Touch communication system. Choose a contact and you can tap on the screen of your watch. This will make their watch vibrate and switch on to get their attention. You can then draw or write messages that will be sent instantly to the other users’ screen, or even share your current heart rate with the other user.
The Apple Watch comes equipped with a sensor on the back of the watch face that integrates infrared and visible-light LEDs, as well as photodiodes. This sensor, and the motion trackers within the Apple Watch itself, are able to track all kinds of health data, including steps taken, elevation, heart rate and even the number of times you stood up. The data will be fed directly into iOS 8’s new Health app, so you can keep track of your daily exercise levels in one place, but you can set daily goals on your Apple Watch and get notifications as you train so you know how you’re doing. Over time, the watch will learn your training habits, and provide you with helpful tips, training regimes and more.
The Apple Watch also features an NFC chip, allowing users to make contactless payments by simply touching the Apple Watch to a payment panel. The system will integrate with the new Apple Pay system in the Passbook app on iPhone. You can register multiple cards, then simply pay for items with a touch of the watch on the payment pad. It’s incredibly secure, too. You can read more about Apple Pay in our iPhone 6 Roundup.
Pricing and availability
The Apple Watch will start at $349, and will be available early 2015.