Apple has finally launched their much anticipated smartwatch range with the new devices set to go on sale in OZ on April 24th.
At a big bash event in San Francisco Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the devices which at best will have 18 hours battery life will range in price in price from A$499 to more than $14,000 in Australia depending on the metals they are made from and the straps they are bought with.
Attendees to the event were sceptical of the devices battery life claims.
The larger 42mm (1.7in) models of the Watch will cost about $50 more than the 38mm (1.5in) versions in the lower-priced ranges.
Apple stores in Sydney will carry a range of different watch straps and faces, shoppers will be able to try on different models in its stores or at certified dealers such as JB Hi Fi or Harvey Norman.
Apple said that beginning 10 April in Australia, the new Apple Watch will be available for preview, try-on by appointment at Apple’s retail stores, and available for pre-order through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com/au).
On 24 April, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers in China and Japan. Customers who purchase online or in-store from Apple will be offered Personal Setup to customise and pair Apple Watch with their iPhone.
Apple Watch is available in three collections, Apple Watch Sport, priced at recommended retail price AUD$499 inc. GST and RRP AUD$579 inc. GST; Apple Watch, available from recommended retail price AUD$799 inc. GST to RRP AUD$1,629 inc. GST; and Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys, with a recommended retail price starting from AUD$14,000 inc. GST.
Apple executives said that thousands of new apps had already been developed for the Watch ahead of it going on sale.
Facebook, Instagram, car pick-up service Uber and the Chinese messaging app WeChat are among those confirmed to have developed software for the device.
A14K gold Apple Watch Edition will be available in a limited number for $10,000, it is not known how many of these premium models will be allocated to the Australian market.
Just like the latest iPhones, the Apple Watch will work with Apple Pay via the built-in NFC.
The new watches appear to be contextually aware, and will bring up apps based on your needs.
For example, if you’re at the airport, it will bring up your boarding pass and the barcode of your boarding pass, so you don’t even have to check in or print it out.
Then, when you approach your hotel, all your reservation info pops up, and depending on which hotel you’re at, you may even be able to use it as your door key, effectively eliminating the need to visit the concierge.
All the apps, how-to videos, and info about the Apple Watch are all available in the Apple Watch app, which arrives in the App Store today along with iOS 8.2.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the launch that the Apple Watch will tell time accurately. He said it’s within 50 milliseconds of UTC, so you’re never behind. Cook also showed off watch face widgets for the first time, which can be anything from a stopwatch, calendar events, world clock, or other tools.
The Glances feature was also explained. All you have to do is swipe up from bottom of watch to see Glances such as weather, calendar, music, heart rate, and other key information that you only need to see for a second or two at a time.
Cook claimed the Apple Watch offers brand-new ways to communicate immediately and intimately with your family and friends. Users can send animated sketches scribbled on the screen to a friend’s Watch, in real time, or send a tap from your watch to get your their attention. It’s even possible to send your digital heartbeat.
Unlike Android Wear, the Apple Watch will have a home screen that’s full of app icons. The app icons look like small, brightly coloured bubbles, resting on a black field. You’ll be able to choose which app to open at will. However, we’ve also heard that the watch will be contextually aware and bring up appropriate apps when you need them most. You’ll receive notifications, calls, texts, and other alerts on your wrist, which you can glance at, answer, or dismiss.
The watch will also know when you’re looking at it and turn off when you’re not, so you don’t have to worry about pressing the power button every five minutes.
Apple says the screen will be sensitive enough to recognize a “force touch” press from a light tap, so you’ll have yet another way to interact with the watch. Meanwhile, the digital crown will handle all the zooming, scrolling, and so on. Additionally, Siri will be there for voice commands, dictation, and other functions.
Premium design runs through all three versions
Apple always puts a lot of focus on design, but it has really put the emphasis on style for the Apple Watch. The watch comes in three versions, each made of different materials. All three watches will come with several strap options at the start, though many third-party manufacturers are expected to jump in with their own straps, too.
Apple watch edition
The entry-level Apple Watch Sport is made out of anodized aluminium and comes in space grey or silver. You can choose from a variety of strap options, including brightly coloured silicon. The Sport has an ion-X strengthened glass screen to protect it from scratches. Meanwhile, the mid-range Apple Watch comes in stainless steel with a hard wearing sapphire crystal face, and you can choose between the space grey and standard silvery finish options. A variety of metal, leather, and other kinds of straps are available for this model.
Related: Get a virtual pet on your Apple Watch
Finally, the premium and likely most expensive version of the Apple Watch, called Edition, comes in 18-karat yellow and rose gold. The watch face is made of sapphire crystal, and you can choose from several fancy leather and metal strap options.
Two screen sizes sit more comfortably
So far, wearables have been one-size fits all, but that’s not the case with Apple Watch. It will come in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, so as to fit a wider range of wrists more comfortably. For reference, the 38mm Apple Watch will be smaller than the 1.56-inch wide Moto 360, as well as the 42mm Huawei Watch. It will also be much shorter than the Samsung Gear 2, which measures 58.4mm tall. Theoretically, this will make it ideal for smaller wrists, while those who can sport a Moto 360 and look natural can have the larger 42mm version.
According to Apple’s WatchKit developer information, the 42-millimeter Apple Watch model will feature a screen with 390 ? 312-pixel resolution, and the 38-millimeter model will pack a 340 ? 272 pixel resolution.
Fitness freaks will get a workout
As with any smartwatch, one the Apple Watch’s biggest features is fitness. Tim Cook says it’ll even give you a tap on the wrist if you sit for too long. The watch has a built in heart rate monitor, which should give it accurate fitness tracking and an awareness of how many calories you’ve burned. It will track your steps, the intensity of your workouts, and other fitness metrics. The accelerometer and GPS are also sure to draw gym rats, as are the personalized fitness goals in the workout app.
Battery life is sadly limited, but there’s a power saving mode
Apple isn’t a miracle worker, and it probably still hasn’t solved the eternal smartwatch battery life conundrum. The Apple Watch will almost certainly need charging every night in its box, or with the company’s MagSafe charger. Luckily, it seems there’s a power saving mode, which should keep the most basic watch functions alive when the battery’s running low.
Wear it in the shower
Tim Cook even says you can wear it in the shower, while you’re running in a rainstorm, or sweating through a hot yoga class. There’s no mention of swimming with it, though.