Apple Watch release date confirmed plus price

Apple Watch release date will be April 2015, according to CEO Tim Cook

  • The Apple Watch will launch in April 2015 (as confirmed by CEO Tim Cook during an earnings call in January 2015), with prices starting at $349 in the US. The UK price is expected gsmarena_001
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  • to be around £300 when the exchange rate and VAT are taken into account.
  • Watchkit SDK was released to developers in mid-November, paving way for new apps to be created for the device.
  • Confirmed specficiations include choice of screen sizes, straps and outer casings, as well as compatability with iPhones and iPads.

The Apple Watch – the firm’s first foray into wearable tech – will be released in April 2015 and it is expected that users will be able to pre-order the device soon to ensure supply matches likely demand.

Indeed, in preparation for when the Apple Watch is available to buy, Apple Store staff are already being trained up, ready to answer any questions consumers may have, according to 9to5mac.

The Apple Watch launch date was confirmed during the firm’s latest (Q1 2015) earnings call at the end of January.

“We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high. Our revenue grew 30 per cent over last year to $74.6 billion, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“Our exceptional results produced EPS growth of 48 per cent over last year, and $33.7 billion in operating cash flow during the quarter, an all-time record,” added Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO.

“We spent over $8 billion on our capital return program, bringing total returns to investors to almost $103 billion, over $57 billion of which occurred in just the last 12 months.”

In preparation for the device’s release, the consumer electronics giant has now made good on its promise to release a Software Development Kit (SDK) and – in the process – shed some further light on what users can expect from the Apple Watch.

Dubbed WatchKit, the SDK paves the way for developers to start designing apps for the device, and also gives them a first glimpse at some of the code for iOS 8.2.

The code preview has been included to help developers design offerings that take advantage of the connectivity between the Apple Watch and other iOS devices.

The latest iOS 8.2 beta has also given us our first glimpse at the iPhone companion app for Apple Watch, which will work alongside the wearable device and allow users to customise and manage settings.

Three versions

The Apple Watch will start at around £300 and come in three flavours: an entry-level Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport and a slightly pricier gold Apple Watch Edition. A few variations of the wearable have been displayed at Fashion Week in Paris for a limited period.

iPhone users that opt for the Apple Watch will be able to choose between a stainless steel or space black stainless steel case, while Apple Watch Sport buyers will be offered an anodised aluminium case in silver or space grey. The high-end Watch Edition sports an 18-carat gold case and a sapphire crystal display as standard.

SDK

In preparation for the device’s release, has released a Software Development Kit (SDK) and – in the process – shed some further light on what users can expect from the Apple Watch.

Dubbed WatchKit, the SDK paves the way for developers to start designing apps for the device, and also gives them a first glimpse at some of the code for iOS 8.2. The code preview has been included to help developers design offerings that take advantage of the connectivity between the Apple Watch and other iOS devices.

Apple is also offering users the opportunity to build an Apple Watch to their own specifications. As such they can choose between either a 38mm or a 42mm height case for their devices, which will be available in a selection of colours including stainless steel, silver aluminium, 18-carat yellow gold, space black, space grey or 18-carat rose gold.

The emergence of the Watchkit SDK has revealed the 42mm version will pack a screen with a 390 x 312 pixel resolution, while the 38mm model’s screen will boast a pixel resolution of 340 x 272.

Buyers can also choose from a selection of straps in different colours, made from a variety of materials, such as leather, plastic, and metal links.

A new report from 9to5 Mac has revealed that Apple is bringing in retail candidates with “a fashion or luxury background,” well placed to make sure the new wearable devices appeal as much to the fashion industry and its consumers as they undoubtedly will to tech lovers.

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts is already at the head of the retail team for Apple Watch, and the fashion world has appeared to so far embrace the company’s efforts to dip a toe into the industry with its new wearable.

In July, prior to the launch of the Apple Watch, it was reported that an unnamed sales director of Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer had left the firm to join the technology giant. The unveiling of the device was also placed in the middle of New York fashion week, with style bloggers and journalists invited along. It also features on the cover of Vogue China.

The recruitment of new experts in luxury brands points to a concerted effort from Apple to approach the Apple Watch as a high-end fashion item as much as a smartwatch.

Specs: Required hardware

Users will require an iPhone to use the Apple Watch, and Apple has confirmed the device will work with the newly-introduced iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, as well as the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

According to 9to5mac, users will be able to customise and organise the Apple Watch’s home screen via a virtual view of the watch face on their iPhone, as well as manage settings for the clock, messaging, passcode, fitness, accessibility features and more.

The Apple Watch features a dial on the side, which is what wearers will use to navigate the display, load apps, return to the homescreen, and zoom in on content.

Timekeeping and Complications

The Apple Watch marketing website has revealed more about some of the specific timekeeping options that users can display on the watch face, such as sunrise/sunset, weather, a world clock or stocks.

The page reads: “Apple Watch is first and foremost an incredibly accurate timepiece… in addition to showing you the time Apple Watch actually understands what time means to you. It helps you be more productive and efficient. So you can get more out of every moment.”

Users can customise Faces, Complications and Glances, with options for alarms, moon phases, calendars and more to be displayed on the device’s screen, with the page stating that timekeeping “goes beyond hours, minutes, and seconds.”

Monogram, which can be turned on or off according to preference, allows the user to ‘engrave’ a stamp of up to four letters on the clock face.

A red dot that alerts the wearer to notifications from their iPhone can also be enabled, and the user can choose a stock to track (current price, percentage change etc.) and set it to appear as an extra Complication on the clock face.

Communication

While the Apple Watch probably isn’t going to immediately become people’s primary communication tool, there are still plenty of features designed to keep them in touch with each other.

The device allows users to send and receive text messages, make calls, send emails, share their location and talk to other Apple Watch users, even sharing their heartbeat with them as demonstrated at the wearable’s launch. Apple describes the functions on the watch as “less about reading words on a screen and more about making a genuine connection.”

Messaging is going to be markedly different for the device given the absence of a keyboard, and the Watch will get around this by allowing users to communicate with audio messages, either transcribed to text or sent as is. Read Receipts can be disabled, as can general alerts for text messages.

Handoff will allow you to start a phone call or begin writing an email on the device, before transferring over to the iPhone when convenient.

Health-monitoring tools

The Apple Watch is also being touted by the consumer electronics giant as a “comprehensive fitness and health” companion, as well as a productivity aid.

As such, there are four sensors on the back of the device, which will monitor a user’s heart rate and a gyroscope that can be used to track their overall activity levels. The device will also take Wi-Fi and GPS location information from the user’s iPhone to better track activity.

This data will be used to inform the device’s Activity App and Workout App. The latter will allow users to set themselves fitness goals, and will pass on messages of encouragement to help achieve them.

As part of this, it will measure the number of calories they’ve burnt, how long a user’s been working out or how far they’ve run. The watch will even track how often the user is standing and sitting throughout the day, offering gentle nudges to encourage more movement.

During a speech at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference, Apple chief Cook said the device will provide users with hourly reminders to stand up and get active.

“If I sit for too long, it will actually tap me on the wrist to remind me to get up and move, because a lot of doctors think sitting is the new cancer,” said Cook, according to MacRumours.

“Ten minutes before the hour, it will remind you to move. We have a lot of people using the Apple Watch at Apple, and ten minutes before the hour, suddenly they all get up and move. It took a little to get used to, but it’s great.”

This will manifest itself in periodic press reports, reminders to stand, achievements reached and Monday summaries sent to the watch.

The user will be able to activate/deactivate the heart rate tracker’s automatic calorie calculator, as well as the device’s ability to track movement, steps and fitness levels.

The Health and Fitness page on the Apple Watch marketing site says: “Apple Watch is our most personal device ever, and there’s nothing more personal than your health. Just as Apple Watch is designed to keep you more efficient, organised, and productive, it’s also made to keep you moving. Because being active is vital to living a healthy life.”

Screen

The screen appears to have capacitive capabilities, as users must rely on hard taps and more gentle swipes to access apps.

For example, a swipe up from the bottom of the screen will bring up calendar information, while a swipe from left-to-right will allow users to scroll between notifications and other data.

On this point, Apple said, given the size of the device, apps will be scaled down versions of the ones you’d fine on the iPad or iPhone.

Business uses

In terms of productivity features, it is being pitched as a means of surreptitiously responding to texts or calendar invites while in meetings.

The Apple Watch will also pre-empt how it thinks users may want to respond to certain messages, so they can reply in a quick and easy manner.

It also boasts integration with Apple’s voice assistant Siri, so that users can ask the Apple Watch for directions, for instance.

The vendor has also since confirmed the Apple Watch will be compatible with its Apple Pay wireless payments service, which it also unveiled during the iPhone 6 launch.

This means users will be able to wirelessly pay for goods and services using Apple Watch once it’s released in 2015. Furthermore, it will also extend Apple Pay compatibility to iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c users who would be unable to use it, as their devices lack Apple’s near-field communications chip.

Battery life

During the launch event for the device, Apple CEO Tim Cook said it was designed for all-day use, and can be charged wirelessly.

New reports from 9to5Mac’s sources claim that the powerful processor is one factor contributing to disappointing battery drain in the device, which means that Apple’s target of having the Watch’s battery life last a full day may not be in reach.

The current target is reportedly 2.5 hours of ‘heavy’ use or 3.5 hours of ‘standard’ use. The nature of the Apple Watch means that users will likely only be actively interacting with it in short bursts. With this in mind, Apple were aiming for 3-4 days of standby or sleeping mode, but has now lowered expectations to 2-3 days.

Apple notably side-stepped the issue of battery life during the launch event for the product on 9 September.

An Apple spokesperson revealed to Re/code around the time of the launch that the Apple Watch’s battery life was “about a day right now,” and, understandably, the tech company isn’t satisfied with that.

Nat Kerris, speaking for Apple, said: “There’s a lot of new technology packed into Apple Watch and we think people will love using it throughout the day. We anticipate that people will charge nightly which is why we designed an innovative charging solution that combines our MagSafe technology and inductive charging.”

Paul Jackson, principle analyst at Ovum, said battery life could be a make-or-break factor for potential buyers, which is why it makes sense for Apple to take its time.

“This is still the major deal breaker for mass adoption. Sure, tech firms have trained us to charge our phones every day, but devices like watches, fit bands, glasses etc. need multi-day capacities.”

Release date

Speculation about when the Apple Watch release date will fall has raged for months, and perfecting its battery life has been cited by multiple sources as the source of production delays.

A new report from 9to5mac has suggested that the Apple Watch will arrive as early as March 2015, based on comments from Apple President of Retail, Angela Ahrendts, who allegedly told employees that’s when the device would launch.

The report also states the company is planning to put Apple Store employees through an “extensive testing program” in February in preparation for it.

A change to Apple’s EU website also suggested that previous rumours of an early 2015 release for the Apple Watch were accurate, with “Available in early 2015” briefly displayed below the page’s main image. This then changed to “Available in 2015,” which is also what is shown on the US site.

The quick revision could be due to an error, spotted by 9to5mac, and so is not official confirmation of a release early in the year.

It had been previously speculated that Apple will begin mass production of the Apple Watch as soon as January, following a report from Apple Daily (via BGR), with Quanta Computer producing the wearables exclusively for Apple.

Furthermore, it was also claimed the company, after missing the original 2014 target, was aiming for a wide release for the Apple Watch on Valentine’s Day in February, which fit in with reports that production would begin at the beginning of 2015.

However, a recent report from 9to5Mac has pushed the date back to at least Spring 2015.

Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts, reportedly said to the site: “We’re going into the holidays, we’ll got into Chinese New Year, and then we’ve got a new Watch launch coming in the spring.”

Apple Watch: Will it be a success?

The launch of the Apple Watch marks the consumer electronics giant out as a relative latecomer to the wearables party, having already seen rivals Samsung, Sony and LG release products over the past year.

However, given Apple’s track record for popularising existing technologies that have previously failed to capture the imagination of consumers (particularly in the case of the MP3 and tablet sectors), market watchers seem assured the Apple Watch will prove to be a hit.

Analyst house Forrester has already predicted the devices will go on to dominate the wearables market right through 2015, until its competitors catch-up and eat into its sales.

This will cause sales of Apple’s wrist-based wearable devices to slow, so much so that its share of units sold will fall to below 50 per cent during 2016.

Sales expectations as put together by Business Insider see figures for Apple Watch varying significantly from one analyst to the next.

Take a look over the page to find out which of our predictions turned out to be true, and which ones ended up wide of the mark.