Apple gave us a good look at the Apple Watch back in September, but also left us with a whole lot of questions. Now, things are a whole lot less mysterious: We know the on-sale date and price, plus more about how apps will work.
The Apple Watch will be available for pre-order on April 10. You’ll also be able to go into Apple Stores on April 10 and demo the watches in person. Retail sales begin two weeks later, on April 24. That’s also when the pre-orders should arrive in buyers’ hands.
Pricing starts at $349 for the entry-level, aluminum Apple Watch Sport (which we knew already), and goes up from there. The gold Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000, which may seem like a whopping amount, but is actually a decent price within the gold jewelry world.
A breakdown of the pricing model is below. The actual price varies depending on which band you choose. There will be options from rubber to leather to finely-crafted steel links and mesh, all costing different amounts.
Apple Watch Sport
Apple Watch Edition
$10,000 and up
How the Watch Works
As Apple detailed at its Apple Watch reveal last September, the wearable’s operation is heavily tied to an iPhone. It will work with the iPhone 5 or later, not just the more recent iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple says the battery should last 18 hours—the company claims this is “all-day battery,” and should get most of us through an entire day of use. You will have to charge the watch every night while you sleep, though, using the magnetic charger that attaches to the back of the watch body.
The Apple Watch lies dormant until you lift your wrist, at which point it wakes up to a bubbly-looking homescreen of circular app icons. While you can operate apps with touches and taps (including long taps, as the display can sense force), you can also navigate through menus using the Watch’s “digital crown.” With a twist, you can zoom through screens and menus, or with a press, go back to the watch’s home screen. You can also use the crown to customize the color of the watch’s face. Below the crown is a button you can tap to access contacts you’ve chatted with recently. This “digital touch” communicator lets you send them Snapchat-like pictures and sketches with just a few taps.
On the watch’s underside is an LED-based heart rate tracker, as well as a wireless inductive charging port that attaches magnetically to its charging cradle. Inside you’ll find a vibrating motor that offers haptic feedback for notifications and onscreen taps. It also includes a mic, so you can dictate queries to Siri, like asking what movie is playing this evening.
Apple has a number of built-in apps and features for the Apple Watch that were previously announced. Besides Siri, there’s a photo app, which offers a Photostream-like grid of photos you can browse through using the digital crown or a finger swipe. In its Maps app, you can pan around the screen using your finger or the crown, navigate to favorite locations, or search for specific places using voice commands.
Third Party Apps
Apple opened up WatchKit to developers late last year, so they’ve had plenty of time to get their offerings in order before the end of April. Apple will push out an update to iOS (version 8.2) that will enable watch interactions, and let you download Watch apps onto your phone and pair them with your wearable via Bluetooth.
For starters, you’ll definitely have Facebook and Instagram, with the ability to reply to incoming tweets or messages right from the watch’s notification screen. Pinterest also has an app, and you can navigate to places you’ve pinned in the watch app. Uber has an app—hail a car and watch it arrive on the little screen. American Airlines has also partnered with Apple so you can check into flights from your wrist, and so you can display your boarding pass on the watch’s screen. Hotel chains like the W will also let you unlock your room from your watch.
One of the coolest integrations we saw on stage at today’s event was all the smart home stuff you can control through Alarm.com using the watch. Security cameras, lights, locks, doors. Just a few taps and you can keep tabs on your house from anywhere.