With a promise of “one more thing,” Apple unveiled the Apple Watch, its long-rumored wearable device, today at an event in the company’s hometown of Cupertino, California.
The Apple Watch requires an iPhone and is compatible with iPhone 5 and more recent models. When it’s available beginning early next year, it will be priced beginning at $349.
“We love to make technology more personal,” CEO Tim Cook said as he introduced the product with a video showing several different configurations of the device, which he said “works seamlessly with the iPhone” and also serves as a “comprehensive health and fitness device.”
There will be three editions and two sizes of the Apple Watch. During a video narrated by Apple’s senior vice president of design, Jony Ive, he said that the Apple Watch constitutes “a range of devices.” Software watch faces come with the phone, taking inspiration from analog watches, digital watches and even Mickey Mouse watches.
The Apple Watch will support third-party apps. WatchKit allows developers to communicate with the device by sending notifications and apps like Twitter that appear on the home screen. Apple’s Fitness and Workout apps will be included on the device, designed to give users a view of their daily activities by monitoring things like calories burned, standing up to keep from being entirely sedentary and more.
The Apple Watch also supports touch gestures designed around the watch. Users will be able to reply using text predicted based on the received message. During a demo, Ive sent a message to the Apple Watch asking which song the presenter would play next. During the reply, the device correctly predicted the names of the songs from the text message and suggested those as responses.
Pressing and holding the digital crown invokes Siri. Asking what movies are playing nearby will bring up a list of movies, which users can navigate using swipe gestures or the digital crown.
The Apple Watch will come in three “editions,” according to Ive: The Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch Edition. The editions are differentiated with several bands from a leather loop that fastens with magnets, a sport band, another metal band that clasps around the wrist, a traditional strap and link, a stainless steel band as well as a stainless steel loop that fastens like the the leather strap. The Apple Watch Edition is made of 18 karat gold.
“What we didn’t do was take the iPhone and shrink the user interface and slap it on your wrist,” Cook said. Gestures like pinch to zoom don’t translate to a small device like that. Instead, the Apple Watch will include a “digital crown,” a high-tech version of the protrusion on the side of a wristwatch. Twisting the digital crown using the Maps app, for example, zooms in and out. Click it in, and it’s the device’s Home button.
The Apple Watch can be worn “all day,” according to the CEO.
It includes a retina display, according to Ive. The display senses force, “adding a new dimension to the user interface.” It understands the difference between a tap and a press, which provides access to contextually specific controls. Four sensors on the back detect pulse rate. With its gyroscope, accelerometer and the information gathered from an iPhone, it understands your movement and “sets goals” for you.
Taking inspiration from Apple’s magnet-based MagSafe charging cables on its laptops, the Apple Watch charges with a proprietary magnetic adapter that fastens itself to the back of the watch face.
Rumors about the device, which many called the iWatch, have long been circulating. Those rumors variously stated that it will tell the time, include biometric measuring, run apps and that it won’t be available to purchase until next year. Precedent exists for Apple unveiling a device that isn’t ready for sale. Steve Jobs revealed the original iPhone in January 2007, but the device wasn’t released until late June of that year.
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