Apple Announces its First Smartwatch: the Apple Watch

By Joyce Deuley

Yesterday, Apple announced its highly anticipated smartwatch, the Apple Watch, which is due to come out April 24th and is accepting pre-orders starting April 10th of this year. Apple has now joined several other big tech companies in the smart wearables market, creating a higher-end, customizable smartwatch that will cooperate with its iOS8, the iPhone 5 and 5s, and the iPhone6 and the 6 Plus.

Wearers of the new smartwatch will be able to read emails; connect to other friend’s watches through Digital Touch in order to “tap”, sketch, or send a heartbeat to someone; use Apple Pay; receive Facebook notifications; check the weather; follow WeChat and Twitter trends; use Apple Maps, and even use the watch as a flashlight. In addition, it also allows for fitness tracking capabilities that can be used with nutrition apps and could possibly monitor blood glucose levels, if the rumor is true. It is expected that all of these applications will be organized and managed using a single iPhone companion app—but I guess we’ll have to wait until April to find out for ourselves.

Even with all of the bells and whistles, the Apple Watch is first and foremost a watch. Apple has made sure that its smartwatch will be accurate within 50 milliseconds of the Global Time Standard, and the battery life is expected to last for roughly 18 hours with normal wear and use. While some beta versions were clocking in at 2.5 hours, the end product’s battery most likely will last the wearer for a day to a day and half, depending on use.

While many are salivating over this new wearable, here’s the bummer: the price. Apple Watch competitors are generally priced at least $150 lower than the cheapest version. To Apple’s credit, it offers three models including the standard Apple Watch, the Sport, and the Edition. What remains to be seen is whether Apple devotees are willing to pay the steep price.

The Sport: $350-$400, depending on size, has an anodized aluminum case in either silver or grey. The watch face is made from ion-X glass, and the bands come in a flexible material with customizable colors.

The Apple Watch: $549-$1,099, depending on size, comes with a standard steel case with a sapphire crystal watch face, and a range of stylish bands.

The Edition: $10,000 and up, depending on size and type of gold selected. Its case is either 18k yellow or rose gold, and it comes with specialty, customizable bands in addition to its sapphire crystal screen.

With Apple joining the ranks, the Apple Watch is a clear signal that integration between phones, laptops, tablets, and smart wearables is definitely happening. But for the company itself, the cost of the watch in tandem with the cost of the iPhone, service charges, and data usage, the price of the watch may deter many interested parties. The big question that remains is: when can we expect the new cell phone offerings from Rolex and Patek Phillippe?