Apple hosted their Spring Forward (cute) event today, and between all the boasting and promo videos, there were actually some pretty exciting announcements about the Apple Watch, Apple’s first entry into the world of wearables. And oh, what a conspicuous entry it is. The Apple Watch is ready to make waves in 2015, and while Apple didn’t have too much to say that we hadn’t already learned at their unveiling event last September, there were a few key takeaways from Apple’s feature-rich smartwatch.
1. It’s a Mini Smartwatch, Kind Of
A lot of smartwatches are content to be smartphone companions, and while that’s technically what the Apple Watch is (it still requires a Bluetooth connection to an iPhone, along with the iOS 8.2 update), there’s a lot here that mimics what a smartphone can do. The notifications are expected from virtually any smartwatch these days—Apple goes further by using the Watch’s screen to display emails in full and Instagram photos, for two examples. Pretty much anything you can do on an iPhone, including checking maps, getting directions, sending texts, and even sending and receiving calls, can be done on the Watch. We’re still not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but there it is.
2. All-day Battery Life
Conspicuously absent from last September’s announcement was battery life. Apple saved that info for near the end of today’s presentation, when Tim Cook claimed the Apple Watch will get 18 hours of battery life for most users. We don’t know exactly how big the battery is inside, but we know it’ll be worked harder than most smartwatch batteries, and battery life on Apple mobile devices does tend to disappoint on occasion. 18 hours is already quite a bit shorter than most other wearables, but as long as it can hold up for a full waking day, it should be good enough for most.
3. More Third-Party Uses
We’re not just talking Instagram, either. Apple showed off how the Watch will be able to make contactless payments and stand in for your garage door opener and hotel room card. It’ll also be able to pair up with home security cameras to give you a live feed of what’s going on at home, or can help you quickly check into your flight at the gate. While that’s all cool and all, those are all things you can also do (or will eventually be able to do) with your phone, so unless you really hate fishing out your phone, you might not find these features all that useful.
4. Apple Wants to Be the Burberry of Technology
When Apple brought in former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to run their retail division, it was probably a clue at Apple’s future strategy. Well, the future is now the present, and it’s pretty clear that Apple is trying to fashion itself into a luxury technology company. The Vogue ads are a more obvious clue. If you needed any more proof, here it is—Apple Watch Edition, announced in September as the 18-karat gold-plated luxury version of the watch, will start at $10,000, and will go all the way up to $17,000. That’s in line with luxury wristwatches, except these luxury wristwatches aren’t exactly going to last decades—we’ll be lucky if this iteration of the Apple Watch is even useful at the end of this decade, knowing the lifespan of most mobile products.
5. Release Date and Pricing
And, the most important news of all—when you can get it. Preorders for the Apple Watch, in all its forms (the luxury Edition, the cheaper Sport, and the everyday Watch) start on April 10, with a ship date of April 24 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and the United States. Pricing will range from $350 for the aluminum Apple Watch Sport to that $17,000 version of the Apple Watch Edition. There’s a lot of variance in the middle, depending on the materials used in the strap and the watch face, which will come in aluminum or stainless steel.
Want to know more about what the Apple Watch can do? Check out our previous coverage, which will give you the rundown on what you can expect on April 24.