A Watch for all seasons
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Apple talked about a lot more than daylight savings time at its "Spring Forward" event Monday, revealing a slew of new details about its upcoming smartwatch. With prices ranging from $349 to $17,000 and a wide variety of bands and finishes, the Watch is poised to appeal to a huge swath of consumers.
In terms of functionality, all Apple Watch models will be identical. During its press conference, Apple highlighted several of the key functions, including its ability to mirror any notification that you'd otherwise get on your iPhone, sending and receiving texts, checking the weather, tracking fitness data, controlling music, and, of course, displaying the time (with plenty of custom watch faces). There will be several other default apps—called "Glances"—and Apple will also have an API for third-party developers to produce their own.
As a device that's designed to be in almost constant contact with your skin, the Watch will put a strong focus on fitness apps. Apple's own Activity and Workout apps will provide information on distance traveled, speed, calories burned, steps, and heart rate. The Watch can also use your phone's GPS to track distance more accurately than garden variety pedometers.
There are numerous ways to control the Apple Watch. The most common method will likely be touch, and the Watch includes Touch Force technology that can interpret how hard you're pressing on the screen and take the appropriate action. If touch isn't your thing, a round, raised button—called the Digital Crown—and a flat secondary button are found on the side. These give you some direct control while also providing a quick way to return to the home screen.
The watch itself can touch you back, giving you a gentle tap on your wrist to notify you of incoming information.
Apple also finally provided information on the Watch's battery life. The company claims will last at least 18 hours in mixed use—more or less in line with competing Android Wear watches.
One of the big surprises is the sheer variety of form factors that the Watch will come in. Apple isn't known for fragmenting its product lineup, but it's releasing three different versions of the Watch at launch, and each will come in two sizes. The standard Apple Watch will come with a stainless-steel case, a sapphire glass front, and a bands made of either leather, stainless-steel links, a steel Milanese loop, or fluoroelastomer plastic.
The more specialized editions of the Watch include the "Sport" and "Edition" collections. The low-end Apple Watch Sport trades stainless steel for a lighter anodized aluminum, sapphire glass for Ion-X glass, and will be available with fluoroelastomer bands in five different colors.
But perhaps the most talked about version of the Apple Watch is the "Edition" collection. This is the oft-discussed $10,000 variant, which will include a specialized 18-karat gold case, a sapphire crystal display, and several premium band options.
All three watches will be available in either 42mm or 38mm sizes. In total it makes for 38 different Watch combinations. The cheapest of the lot will be the 38mm Watch Sport, at $349. The standard Watch will begin at $549, and the most expensive will be the "Edition" Watch, which will fetch from $10,000 to $17,000, depending on configuration.
You can't currently order any of the watches, but pre-orders are expected to begin on April 10th and the Watch itself will be available on April 24th. The "Edition" version of the Watch is not expected to be available online, so you'll need to visit an Apple store or speciality retailer to buy one.