Apple held it’s “Spring Forward” event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California today. The tech giant made several announcements about new products like the Retina MacBook Air, but the most anticipated device was the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch is one of the most talked about products in the company’s history and no one is really quite sure if it will be a miraculous hit or a devastating flop. The high-tech timepiece was first introduced back in September at the iPhone 6 launch event, but it was only teased. Apple’s first wearable was front and center at today’s event.
The Apple Watch is just as much as a fashion accessory as it is a technological gadget. “What we didn’t do is take the iPhone and shrink the interface and strap it on your wrist,” CEO Tim Cook reassured everyone. It offers customizable faces which you can switch from a traditional clock to a face complete with important information.
The entry-level model is the Apple Watch Sport. The aluminum device starts at $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm model. Both of which come with rubberized plastic sport band and will be available in space gray and silver.
The stainless steel Apple Watch will set you back $549 for the 38mm model and $599 for the 42mm model. Strap options on the Watch Collection include sport band, leather bands with multiple buckles and a leather loop, as well as a stainless steel link or Milanese loop bracelet. Depending on the choice of strap, the price can go up to $1,099.
Finally, the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will start at $10,000 and will only be available in select retail stores. The problem with the high-end Apple Watch is that super luxury watches such as Rolex or Cartier do not diminish in value and will actually appreciate. However the value of tech devices falls immediately and drastically when a new model comes out. A lot to invest in something that will quickly depreciate.
Apple claims that the iWatch will get approximately 18 hours of battery life over a normal day. They did not state how much battery life the wearable would get from power-draining, data-intense usage.
The device offers a feature called “Glances,” which you can see the things you look at most frequently such as weather, calendar and even your heart rate.
“You can receive calls on your phone. I have been waiting for this moment since I was 5-years-old,” said an ecstatic Cook.
The Apple Watch is definitely fitness focused and has a built in EKG (which uses light to monitor heart-rate) as well as other sensors for monitoring stress. Much like Fitbit, the Apple Watch will track your activity throughout the day, counting calories, steps and workouts. It will even be a personal trainer, telling you if you’ve been sitting too long, give you reminders to be more active and at the end of the week it will send you a report on your physical activity as well as how to improve your health.
There is also built-in Bluetooth for connecting to accessories; and the digital crown, which controls the watch’s screen to zoom in and out.
Another part of the appeal of the revolutionary timepiece will be wireless payments. The Apple Watch will support the company’s wireless payment system, Apple Pay. You’ll need to use a passcode to authorize Apple Pay initially, but once you’ve logged in it will stay connected as long as the watch makes contact with your wrist.
The Apple Watch will also be able to be your hotel key, but you had better charge that sucker up before you go out so as to not be locked out.
Pre-orders for the watches begin on April 10th and will be available in the U.S., UK, China, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Hong Kong. The watch won’t be for sale until April 24th, but you’ll be able to try out Apple’s first wearable in their stores starting on April 10th.
Other developments from the presentation:
In the beginning of the presentation, HBO’s CEO Richard Pleplera debuted a new trailer for Game of Thrones to help announce that HBO Now, the cable channel’s new streaming standalone subscription service, will be exclusively for Apple. The cable-cutting service will cost $14.99 a month and give customers access to all of HBO’s content without having a cable or satellite subscription.
The other jewel of the event is the brand new MacBook. “This is the strongest Mac update we’ve ever had,” Cook said. The new MacBook weighs only 2 lbs and is 13.1 mm thin, 24 percent thinner than MacBook Air. It features a 12-inch screen with super high resolution Retina display at 2304 x 1440 pixels. The full-sized keyboard goes all the way to the edge and is four times more accurate than a typical keyboard. Cook says this is the world’s most energy-efficient laptop. There is only one type of port on the laptop, a USB-C, that will do all functions.
Apple’s brand new MacBook will be available on April 10th with a price starting at $1,299 for 256GB of flash storage. An upgraded model with more storage (512GB) and faster processor will sell for $1,599. Apple offers three different metal finishes of silver, space gray and gold.
Some fun facts from the presentation:
- Apple says it has sold more than 700 million iPhones since it’s launch in 2007.
- The iPhone was the No. 1 selling phone in the world last quarter.
- Apple saw a 50 percent growth in phone sales last quarter, compared to an industry growth of 25 percent.
- The number of retailers accepting Apple Pay is now 700,000.
- Coca-Cola plans to have 100,000 vending machines capable of accepting Apple Pay by the end of 2015. There are currently 40,000 machines that accept it.
- Every major car brand is committed to incorporating Apple CarPlay into their automobiles, with 40 new models planned this year alone.
So what do you think is the Apple Watch a tech must-have or expensive overkill?