Everything We Know About Apple's Big Announcement

Photo: Courtesy of Apple.
New details are out about one of the most anticipated wearable devices: the Apple Watch. The price is steep, however, with the highest-end, limited-edition watch selling for $10,000. Here's what else you need to know.

The much-hyped Apple Watch will finally be making its debut in stores April 10, when you'll be able to visit an Apple Store to actually pick up and touch this little device that purports to do just about everything. The first smartwatch from the company, the Apple Watch is a fitness tracker, heart-rate monitor, conduit to your iPhone, and more. You can use it instead of your credit card at Sephora and Whole Foods, and even wave it at an American Airlines gate for a truly hands-free boarding process.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and others from the company held a press event announcing details about the Apple Watch, including that the company will sell an extremely limited, 18-karat-gold Apple Watch Edition for $10,000. It's an extreme price for a company that knows how to win over consumers based on design and lifestyle branding, but my money's on them selling out early. (Just imagine the resale price 20 years from now when it's considered vintage tech.)

The company also announced a new line of MacBooks, which are a scant 13.1mm thick and weigh a hair over two pounds. They are the thinnest laptops ever created by a company that’s already been wowing consumers with ultra-thin laptops for years.
Photo: Courtesy of Apple.
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The Basics

Despite the huge press event, today is not the first time we've heard about Apple Watch. The company announced it a few months ago, teasing that it would debut in "early 2015." April 10 now marks not only when it will appear in stores for people to preview, but also the date early adopters can order one.

According to Apple, the watch will have 18 hours of battery life for a typical day of use. The watch will of course ship with a charger that magnetically snaps into place on the back of the device.  

The Apple Watch will come in two case sizes (meaning the screen, or watch face): 38mm and 42mm. The larger watch has a 390x312-pixel resolution, and the smaller one is 340x272. You'll be able to customize either model to wear it on the left or right wrist. In fact, a lot about this watch is customizable, from the default screen you'll glance at to check the time to the material and color of the band that fits around your wrist.

Because you can customize this watch to such a fine degree, the prices will vary based on the product you create, but it still ain't cheap. For example, the Apple Watch Sport, the least expensive version, will sell for $349 for the smaller size and $399 for the larger. Considering most other smartwatch–fitness tracker hybrid devices top out around $199, that's a lot. The next model up, which features a stainless steel casing, starts at $549 and can run all the way up to $1,099.

To use the Apple Watch, you do need an iPhone, something the press event didn't really stress. The Apple Watch does have some of its own stand-alone functionality, but to use it to its fullest, you'll need to think of it more like a second interface for your phone. For example, while you can ping Siri for help right from your watch, your phone needs to be in range for it to work. The iPhone will still do a lot of the heavy lifting, with the watch relaying the information to you in a new and more convenient way. That's the promise, anyway.
Photo: Courtesy of Apple.
What Makes The Apple Watch Hot

This smartwatch is the first true wearable device from Apple, but it makes sense as the company has shifted from being seen as a computer maker to lifestyle brand. And, it's long been a design powerhouse, working with talent such as Jony Ive to create truly beautiful technology that also works. A well-designed watch that's smart, useful, and forward-thinking is exactly the kind of product it wants you to love, something that's edgy while also not too experimental. The customization aspect is key. Apple is offering premium leather straps, as well as metallic ones, in addition to the rubbery sport bands for more athletic types. Perhaps most important, the watch uses a standard attachment, so you can swap in any watchband from any other designer or company you like.
Part of Apple's success is that it lets other companies — notably Samsung and Pebble, in this case — experiment with new products and figure out what the market likes and wants before it throws its hat into the ring, too. Cupertino watches and waits, and then creates its version of a product just as demand and interest are peaking, but not sooner. Apple's had at least two years to watch smartwatches, as a category, mature. And, it's getting into the game with a supremely well-designed, high customizable watch that will no doubt be easy to use, especially if you're already an Apple user.

How You'll Use It

Just as with the iPhone, the Apple Watch strives to appeal to everyone, partly through a range of apps that cater to different types of people. As mentioned, you can use it in place of a boarding pass and a credit card. It can remotely control things in your home that are connected to the Internet. It also acts as a fitness band for marathon runners as well as less active people who are simply trying to move more in their daily routine — the Apple Watch can actually suggest a "move" goal for you based on how mobile you were the week prior. Even ESPN will have an app that lets you check sports scores.

But, Apple Watch does have a few unique features we haven't seen in other activity monitors or smartwatches yet. One is a haptic feedback sensor that lets you send your heartbeat, in the form of little taps, from your wrist to someone else's. It might be an intimate way to connect with people when you can't physically be with them.
Another interesting set of apps will be utilized for medical research. Users can opt in to share personal health and motion data via apps developed by leading research universities to study breast cancer, Parkinson's disease, asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders.

In its day-to-day functionality, the Apple Watch will probably be used similarly to other smartwatches, acting as a Bluetooth-connected device for quickly checking incoming messages and phone calls to minimize the amount of time you're staring at your phone.
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To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Personally, I'm skipping the first generation Apple Watch. It's too expensive, and though Apple has done an excellent job with design, I want to see whether, how, and how much people end up using their watches before I take the plunge. While I do enjoy getting notifications on my wrist, I'm not convinced I'd use any of the extra features the Apple Watch exclusively provides.
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