The Apple Watch Is Here, and Here's What You Need to Know

By Kat Hannaford on at

Apple has just lifted the lid on what we were all anticipating (some of us more than, err, others). What could be described as an iPod Nano stuck on a wristband, the square screen is matched by a rectangular bezel, but round UI.

Available in two watch sizes with six strap choices, the hardware itself appears to come in an 18-carat gold version, or silver option. The straps come in a soft quilted leather option, a supple leather strap with an actual clasp, plus a stainless steel strap.

As an alternative to pinch and zoom on the screen, the Watch has what Apple is calling – I kid you not – a "crown" which is located on the side of the watch, containing infrared LEDs and photoiodes that translate rotary movement into digital data. In short, it's a way to control the Watch – press it and you go back to the homescreen.

Raising your wrist activates the screen, and messages can be replied to audibly, by dictation. Swipe up on the touchscreen, which is called a "glance" (oh Apple) for customisable info similar to what you see on an iPhone currently, such as calendar and music details. If you swipe down, that brings you back to the homescreen.

Apple has added a sapphire display, which is great news as it also features inbuilt NFC for mobile payments, so will minimise scratches. But more interesting than that is the fact that the screen can detect force, differentiating between a tap and a press.

Notifications can be felt rather than spied, with a 'taptic' engine giving off subtle vibrations on your wrist. From there, you can accept, decline or dismiss from the Watch, or do the aforementioned dictation to reply to messages. If someone asks a question in a message, like the above shots show, you can respond with bespoke replies. That's pretty neat, however cynical we may be about this launch. Or, you can respond with emoji. Dictation, message replies, or emoji. No keyboard. Wow.

Check out those large, disembodied emoji faces below:

Siri is embedded in the Watch, with Apple showing a demo where they're searching for a nearby movie, with cinema details displayed as well as Rotten Tomatoes scores.

A photos app uses the crown to zoom, so whatever photos you've favourited on another device, will appear on the Watch.

Maps can also be displayed on the Watch, with zooming undertaken with the crown, and panning by swiping on the touchscreen. Turn-by-turn directions are naturally included (hi, cyclists!) with different vibrations depending on whether the command is to turn left or right.

That small button under the crown? That's for the digital touch app, which will display a friends list where you can communicate with small sketches able to be sent to one another or even – get this – a glance at your heartbeat. If you do the latter, the receiver will feel the heartbeat in vibrations.

If you think the latter feature is as naff as we at Giz do, fret not – developers can get in on the Watch action with WatchKit, creating apps purely suited for the smartwatch. Twitter is already included, plus an airline app, and even a hotel room door unlocking option. And, um, Pinterest. And Nike! Oh and BMW totally has an app which will tell you where you parked your car.

 

But onto fitness-related apps, where there are exactly two so far: Fitness and Workout. The first app monitors all activity and movement, whereas Workout is where you set your fitness goals, and measures calories.

Three coloured rings (above) display different details regarding your movement. The Move ring will inform you if you've done a normal amount of activity for the day, while the Exercise ring tells you when you've done a workout. The Stand ring measures how sedentary you were during the day.

On the fitness front, there's actually a Sport version, which comes with an alloy case that's 60 per cent stronger than the regular version.

Here's the day's first mention of Apple TV -- the Watch can control Apple TV. Or the iPhone camera viewfinder.

Charging is done by MagSafe, to a wireless inductive charger, and Tim Cook has said it will require charging every night -- while never actually confirming what the battery life is. Hmm.

Compatible with iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5, 5S, 5C, the Watch will be available early next year, for $349 in the US -- converts to around £216, but I wouldn't be surprised if this costs over £250 here in the UK. This is a steep price for the US -- over $100 more than what the Android Wear smartwatches cost.


Read all Apple announced at the iPhone and Watch event, plus Giz readers' reactions