Apple Watch unveiled: Pricing, features, availability revealed


Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has finally taken the mystery layers off its first ever wearable, the Apple Watch. 

The Cupertinp-based tech giant also made a few other notable announcements: It revealed a push into medical research with launch of ResearchKit, unveiled its thinnest and lightest MacBook, and provided updates on Apple Pay, CarPlay and Apple TV.

First, the Watch

Apple Watch will be available on Friday, April 24, to customers in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US. Apple Watch will also be available to preview or try on at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo and Selfridges in London on April 10 (on sale on April 24). Boutiques in major cities across the world, including colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles and The Corner in Berlin will also retail the Watch from April 24.

On April 24, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers in China and Japan. Customers who purchase online or in-store from Apple will be offered personal setup to customise and pair Apple Watch with their iPhone. 

“Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”

“Conceived, designed and developed as a singular product, Apple Watch merges hardware and software like never before,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Design. “In Apple Watch, we’ve created three beautifully curated collections with a software architecture that together enable unparalleled personalisation in a wearable device.”

As announced earlier, the Apple Watch introduces the Digital Crown, a tool to scroll, zoom and navigate without using the touch display. The Retina display with Force Touch on Apple Watch senses the difference between a tap and a press, providing a new way to quickly and easily access relevant controls. The Taptic Engine discreetly delivers a gentle tap on your wrist whenever you receive a notification or message.

The Watch has a feature called Glances. WatchKit apps can incorporate Glances. Simply by swiping up from your watch face, you’ll be able to see the latest news and sports scores, travel itineraries, or the next step of your favorite recipe.

Many of the features were already known.

Read: Apple Watch: 10 things we know about Apple Inc.'s new smartwatch

The smartness of the smartwatch is finally unveiled - The Apple Watch can be used to open hotel doors, to unlock cars, for apps including Uber, and even as a boarding pass (with the barcode that can be displayed on any smartphone too).

You can also control your home appliances with it, open garage doors, and a lot more. 

The battery will be an 'all-day-long' affair - will last for 18 hours on a full charge (will be magnetically charged, as announced before). 

As revealed earllier - three versions: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch Edition.

Apple Watch collection: Starts $549, goes up to $1,099. Features polished stainless steel and space black stainless steel cases. The display is protected by sapphire crystal. Choice of three different leather bands, a link bracelet, a Milanese loop, and a band made from high-performance fluoroelastomer.

Apple Watch Sport collection: Starts $349, goes up to $399. Cases made from lightweight anodised aluminum in silver and space gray. The display is protected by strengthened Ion-X glass. Matching fluoroelastomer band in five different colors.

Apple Watch Edition collection: Starts at a staggering $10,000. A watch case crafted from 18-karat gold (twice as hard as standard gold). The display is protected by polished sapphire crystal.

Apple Watch will require iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2. or later. iOS 8.2 is available for download starting today.

MacBook Pro with Retina; All-New MacBook

Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display with a 'Force Touch' trackpad, fifth generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Graphics 6100, two times faster flash and longer battery life. Apple also updated the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air with fifth generation Intel Core processors, Intel HD Graphics 6000, and Thunderbolt 2, and added up to two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

“Today the popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 11-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Air all received significant upgrades,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad. We’re also bringing the latest processors and graphics, and faster Thunderbolt 2 to the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, as well as up to two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.”

Apple also unveiled the all-new MacBook, a new line of notebooks – “the thinnest and lightest Macs ever”. The notebook weighs just two pounds and is 13.1 mm thin. The new MacBook features a 12-inch Retina display (thinnest ever on a Mac), an Apple-designed full-size keyboard which is thinner and highly responsive, the all-new Force Touch trackpad, a compact USB-C port for data transfer, video out and charging in a single connector, and a new battery design that maximises every millimetre of space to deliver all-day battery life. And, for the first time, MacBook is available in three aluminium finishes: gold, silver and space grey.

“Apple has reinvented the notebook with the new MacBook, and at just two pounds and 13.1 mm, it’s the thinnest and lightest Mac ever,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Every component of the MacBook reveals a new innovation. From its fanless design, ultra-thin Retina display and full-size keyboard that’s 34 percent thinner, to its all-new Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and breakthrough terraced battery design, the new MacBook is the future of the notebook.”

The new MacBook design is almost a quarter (24 per cent) thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air. The new keyboard is more than a third (34 per cent) thinner and uses an Apple-designed butterfly mechanism that is 40 per cent thinner than a traditional keyboard scissor mechanism yet, in Apple's terms, four times more stable, providing greater precision no matter where your finger strikes the key. 

The new notebook will be on shelved by April 10, alongside the 11-inch and 13-inch non-Retina models starting at $1,299, with pre-orders starting on Monday 

The Cupertino-based tech giant also announced a price crash of Apple TV - it's $69.99 now.

Earlier story

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) offered the video stream of the keynote at 10am PT (9pm in the UAE) this evening. 

The Cupertino-based tech titan is all ready to unleash its next big product category on us, and analysts and experts seem unanimous in their belief that the Apple Watch will do to wearables what the iPhone did to smartphones and the iPad did to tablets.

New, hitherto-unknown features of the Apple Watch have been leaked online hours before the new Apple wearable is set to make its global debut. 

A new report on 9To5Mac, has revealed new leaked details of the new smart watch. According to an unnamed source, the new smart watch will have a much improved battery performance than earlier anticipated. The source claims that the watch will be able to withstand 5 hours of heavy usage. Sources have also suggested that Apple believes that users will not have to use the watch more than 10 seconds at a stretch to accomplish any given task.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has in fact gone on record saying that the battery will last all day. The new wearable, as announced earlier, will charge magnetically. Apple will be using a wireless charger for its Apple Watch, a first for the Cupertino-based company. The firm claims that, for the user, charging the watch in the dark will be as easy as it is to wear one. 

In addition, it now being leaked that unlike the smartphones where the ‘battery save’ mode kicks in when only a fraction of the full battery remains, Apple has geared its watch so that users can to switch to ‘reserve’ mode even on full charge. 

What that will do is dim the display while slowing down communication between the Apple Watch and the corresponding iPhone. Another option that Apple is rumoured to allow in the reserve mode is to completely disconnect the watch from the iPhone and let it work as just an ordinary watch with the Clock face. 

In addition, the battery will need only about a few hours to go from 0 to 100 per cent, a significant improvement over the overnight charge that was required for the prototype watches shown in September 2014. 

Another new feature being discussed is the instant ‘heart rate monitor’ which suggests that the watch will be tracking the wearer’s heartbeats all the time, and the data can be glanced at any time the user wishes to. 

Apple had two weeks ago sent out invites for an ‘invitation-only’ event on March 9. “Please join us for an invitation-only event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco on Monday, March 9, at 10am,” said the invite.

With Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, confirming earlier that the Apple Watch will hit stores in April, this meets Apple’s traditional timeline of publicising the features of a device in detail about a month prior to it hitting store shelves.

While Apple did reveal a few, sketchy details on its smartwatch while unveiling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September last year, marking its first major entry in a new product category since the iPad's debut in 2010.

Read: #AppleLive: Cook unveils iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch

While starting price of the entry-level ‘Sport’ model was announced at the time ($349; Dh1,299), other critical aspects like what apps will it come preloaded with, pricing details of other models and shipping details were conspicuous by their absence. Expect to learn that and more at the March 9 event.

How to watch it ‘live’

While only a lucky few will be in the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts Theatre in San Francisco, the 755-seat theatre that Apple has chosen for the unveiling (it is the same venue it used to launch new products, including the iPad and the iPod), the good news is that anyone (with access to Internet) will be able to watch a live streaming of the event.

Click here to watch live as CEO Tim Cook takes the stage on 09/03/15 at 10pm UAE time, unveiling what many believe will not just be concrete details on the Apple Watch, the Cupertino-based giant’s foray into the wearables segment, but also the much rumoured new version of the MacBook Air, maybe the Pro edition of the iPad and, and this is a long shot, perhaps a hint about the Apple Car.

Who can watch?

Millions of Apple fans can catch the keynote ‘live’ as Apple will be streaming it live on Safari (iOS version 6.0 or later), OSX (v10.6.8 or a later) and Safari 5.1.10 or a later version. You could also stream it on on Apple TV (second- or third-generation set-top box, and should be running software version 6.2 or later).

Note for first-time viewers: Apple streams the video geared for only its own proprietary browsers, so it will not show up on your Chrome, Windows Internet Explorer, Firefox or other browsers.

What to expect?

The unexpected. That’s the least to be expected from Apple. The world’s largest company tends to pleasantly surprise you with killer features and stats when you’re the least expecting it (like right now), and has blatantly disappointed us in the past when we expected the world from it (remember iPhone 5?).

Of course the event will (most likely) detail the Apple Watch, but Cook may also lift the proverbial wrap off the much rumoured iPad Pro, or the 12-inch iPad Air. As we’ve reported earlier, leaks have been getting hotter about Apple Inc. is now gearing up to launch a giant-sized iPad.

Rumours about the launch of the giant iPad gained significant traction after Apple announced the best-ever quarterly results by any company, thanks to the roaring success of its big-screen iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (4.7-inch 5.5-inch, respectively).

Read: Apple's new 12-inch iPad Air case images leaked 

It will be no surprise, then, if Apple takes the same learning to iPad as well and the next iPad would be significantly larger than the current iPad Air 2. Mind you, this will be in sharp contrast to what Apple’s founder Steve Jobs believed in – that is unwieldy and impractical to hold a device with anything more than a 4.5-inch display.

In addition, rumours about a new version of Apple’s MacBook Air notebook have long been, well, in the air, and this will be a good opportunity for Apple to launch the new, higher-resolution ‘retina’-screened MacBook which is also expected to be the first Apple laptop to come with a smaller USB connector.

Apple TV too could make an appearance, since it is due for an update and – more importantly – could have an umbilical link to the new Apple Watch. The new Apple wearable could be the remote to power the several new, expected features in Apple TV, including ‘smart home’ technologies that can light and safeguard your home.

Will Apple Car be detailed? Let’s leave the jokes for another piece.