The worst kept secret in consumer technology is secret no more as the folks in Cupertino have taken the wraps off not the iWatch, but rather the Apple Watch.
To be more accurate, Apple unveiled three different Apple Watches, each in two sizes. The Apple Watch will come in either a 38mm or 42mm casing. In addition to the general Apple Watch stainless steel option, there is also the Apple Watch Edition with an 18k gold build and the aluminum Sport Collection that has a 60% stronger case.
All Apple Watches have rectangular displays with rounded edges and a Sapphire display, and they support a range of straps, including leather, plastic, and metal options, with magnets and spoke and hole connections, among other options. There will be six distinct strap options at launch. True to its name, all Apple Watches are atomic, making them very accurate timepieces.
The display itself supports touch, with pressure sensitivity, and swipes. However, the main navigation element is the Apple Watch crown, which functions similar to the old iPod clickwheel for cycling through options. A quick press of the digital crown also calls up Siri for various voice functions, including search and dictation.
The Apple Watch has a few unique elements. It analyzes incoming texts and provides suggested responses based on the words received. Or users could rely on one of the few dozen animated emoji Apple created specifically for the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch also supports haptic feedback, thanks to what Apple calls Taptic engine. Alerts can come in the form of slight taps and vibrations, and Apple Watch users can even send a custom series of taps to one another, in addition to simple pictures drawn on the touch display. The vibrations will also be used with Apple Maps to help with navigation.
The Apple Watch also has a speaker and microphone for quick phone calls and a Walkie-Talkie feature for voice memos.
Apps operated similarly as they do with Android Wear in that the Apple Watch operates more as an extension of the smartphone versions.
Notifications are key, like incoming Facebook friend requests, and limited actions are often present, like the ability to dismiss said friend request. To this end, Apple has also unveiled WatchKit for would-be Apple Watch developers.
Health and fitness are also big elements. The Apple Watch functions as a heart-rate monitor and pedometer, and works well with the new iOS 8 Healthbook app. The watch itself also has a pair of apps, including Activity, which uses a ring-based UI for measuring daily movement (or lack thereof). The other is Workout, which uses the accelerometer, and mapping from the iPhone’s GPS, to measure more intense activity.
The Apple Watch specs are still mostly a mystery. It must be paired with an iPhone (5 or later) running iOS 8 for full use via Bluetooth 4.0, and Tim Cook claimed it offered “all day” battery life. It also supports 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi and has a Retina display, though the exact resolution is uknown. It charges via an induction magnet. It also has an NFC chip, and will support Apple’s new Apple Pay system.
Other features are also a bit fuzzy. Tim Cook claimed it can be used to control Apple TV and act as a viewfinder for the iPhone camera, though those features weren’t shown at the unveiling. It will start at $350 and ship this spring.