Apple CEO Tim Cook introces the new Apple Watch at a special announcement event in Cupertino on April 9, 2015
After years of rumors and speculation, Apple on Tuesday unveiled its first wearable device, officially called Apple Watch. It starts at $349 and will be available in early 2015.
There are two different sizes of Apple Watch for men and women, and three distinct collections: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition, which is made from 18-karat gold — rose or yellow.
The Apple Watch Edition with a wide variety of wristbands.
You can personalize the watchfaces and their capabilities. You can choose a modular watchface with digital information showing the time, date, and weather; a watchface that shows you astronomy, or where the sun is in the sky; animated watchfaces with butterflies or Mickey Mouse; a simple watchface that simply shows you the time; and many more.
You can also choose from up to six differently designed straps, which offer different types of functionality: A sportband is sweat- and chemical-resistant, while the leather loop is soft and quilted for fastening and adjustment. The modern leather buckle closes with a solid metal clasp that goes symmetrically around the wrist. There's a classic buckle, too, and there's a stainless-steel link bracelet.
There's also a Milanese loop that's formed from stainless-steel mesh that's "infinitely adjustable."
With a crown on the side, which allows you to navigate the watch without blocking the screen, the Apple Watch features a shrunk-down version of iOS 8, highly specialized for Apple Watch. The digital crown, when held down, will activate Siri.
You view all of your apps as tiny circles on the screen, and touch each one to open it. To zoom in to objects, you use the Apple Watch's digital crown.
You can also swipe through information efficiently, and you can even share data with other watches nearby. You can send drawings and taps to friends in a Snapchat-esque way, since the drawings almost immediately disappear after they show up on the receiver's Apple Watch.
"We're not quite finished yet," Apple CEO Tim Cook said, before introducing the Apple Watch. "We have one more thing."
"We love to make technology more personal and allow our users to do things they never have imagined," Cook said. "We have been working incredibly hard for a long time on an entirely new product."
Besides the digital crown, it senses touch and the display also senses force. Tiny electrodes around the display recognize the difference between a tap and a press, which provides instant access to a wide set of contextually specific controls.
There's something called the S1, which encapsulates the electronics inside and basically miniaturizes the entire computer system into the size of a single chip.
There's a gyroscope, accelerometer to give you an idea of your fitness milestones. There's also a unique charging solution: It's not wireless, but a magnetic plug can attach to the Apple Watch at any orientation.
"A precise, customizable timepiece: It's completely customizable so you can find one that reflects your personal style and taste," Cook said.
"I am so excited and so proud to share it with you this morning," he said. "It is the next chapter in Apple's story. And here it is."
There's also a huge focus on fitness. It'll keep track of your fitness goals, as well as how long you've been sitting or standing. You can create and set workouts based on distance or calories you want to burn. And during your workout, you can see from a glance how far, or how long, you've been at it.
There are a ton of other features as well: You can control your Apple TV with the Apple Watch, or use it as a viewfinder for your iPhone's camera.
The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to work. It will work with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5. This means 200 million people can already use Apple Watch.
The device was rumored to be called iWatch or iBand.
Previous reports said the iWatch would run on iOS 8, the company’s latest software update for mobile devices, and connect and communicate with the company’s other gadgets, such as iPhones, Mac computers, and Apple TV.
It was rumored the device would connect to those devices using Bluetooth 4.0, which has been included in every iPhone since the iPhone 4S. There were also rumors the new watch would complete stand-alone functions like tracking and measuring one’s biometrics like heart rate and oxygen levels, as well as control aspects of one’s home environment via HomeKit.
Earlier reports said the iWatch would start at $399, the same price point of Timex's Ironman One GPS+ watch, which will arrive in November. Competing fitness bands from Nike and Jawbone cost about $100, while the first Android Wear devices from Samsung and LG cost about $200.
COMMENTARY: Customers preordering Apple smartwatch on Friday, April 10, will have to wait at least a month for delivery, a sign of strong early demand for company chief Tim Cook's first new major product.
People flocked to Apple's stores and selected boutiques around the world to get a close-up look at the Apple Watch, the tech company's foray into the personal luxury goods market, with Apple predicting demand would exceed supply at product launch.
Cook, interviewed on cable television channel CNBC, said initial orders were "great" for the device, available for preorder online and to try out in stores by appointment, but not to take home.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to clients.
"We view this as an indication of solid demand paired with very limited supply. We continue to expect modest sales in the June quarter as demand ramps over time."
A key factor in the watch's success will be from majority adopters once an initial wave of interest from early adopters subsides.
The Watch goes on sale officially on April 24, online and through appointments in shops, including trendy fashion boutiques in Paris, London and Tokyo, part of Apple's strategy of positioning the wearable computer as a must-have accessory.
But soon after online preorders opened on Friday, Apple's website listed shipping times in June for some models of the watch and four to six weeks for others.
There was immediately brisk bidding on eBay for confirmed orders for watches, with hundreds of sellers looking to make a few hundred or even thousand dollars by passing on their watches, once received.
Testing Apple's mastery of consumer trends, the watch is an untried concept for the Cupertino, California-based company. It straddles a technology market accustomed to rapid obsolescence and luxury goods whose appeal lies in their enduring value.
The Apple Watch sport starts at $349 while the standard version comes in at $549 in the United States. High-end "Edition" watches with 18-karat gold alloys are priced from $10,000 and go as high as $17,000.
At a San Francisco Apple store, dozens of customers crowded around newly installed wooden cabinets, snapping pictures of the gadgets on display under glass. Apple employees, admittedly still unfamiliar with the watches' finer points, guided customers through features like text messaging, maps and fitness tracking.
At Apple's flagship store in New York, Jack Weber, who was visiting from Charlottesville, Virginia, said he would give his wife a top-of-the-line "Edition" as a 50th-anniversary gift.
"What more perfect wedding present could there be than this watch?"
Apple Watch Forecasts
Sales estimates for the Apple Watch for the year 2015 vary widely.
- Piper Jaffray predicts 8 million units.
- Global Securities Research forecasts 40 million.
- Morgan Stanley forecasted 30 million units back in November 2014.
Apple's watch is widely expected to outsell those by Samsung, Sony Corp and Fitbit. It will likely account for 55 percent of global smartwatch shipments this year, according to Societe Generale.
"Apple will outsell its wearable rivals by a very wide margin but it will do this on the power of its brand and its design alone," independent technology analyst Richard Windsor said.