Where to try the Apple Watch and how to book an appointment
If you're not sure about whether to buy an Apple Watch then the best plan is to try one out. Apple Stores now have the device on display but you'll need to make an appointment to have a special fitting. If you do this an employee will be there to show you the device, answer questions and help you choose which model to buy. Book your appointment via Apple's website.
As well as Apple Stores across the country, there's also a special Apple Watch store inside Selfridges on Oxford Street, London.
Apple Watch UK price: How much does the iWatch cost?
The Apple Watch starts at $349 (Sport edition, 38mm; $399 for 42mm) in the US. The Apple Watch Collection starts from $549 and goes up to $1049 in 38mm, while 42mm once again adds $50 to the price. The Apple Watch Edition, crafted from 18k gold, will be available in limited supply, and will cost from $10,000!
UK prices are Sport £299/£339, Watch from £479 to £949, and Watch Edition from £8,000.
Don't forget, though, that you'll also need to own an iPhone in order to use the Apple Watch, so you're looking at an additional £319 (for the iPhone 5C) or more unless you already own an iPhone. The Apple Watch is compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple Watch features
Tim Cook on 9 March 2015 confirmed the Apple Watch will let you read and respond to full emails, and make phone calls directly from your wrist, thanks to a built-in mic and speaker. After a slight delay Apple launched watchOS 2 including new features.
Apple also demonstrated some new apps designed for the Apple Watch, including Instagram, Uber and Shazam. More interesting uses include using Passbook to pull up your boarding pass at an airport, an SPG app that lets you check in to your hotel and unlock your room with your watch, and an Alarm.com app that was shown to unlock and open a garage door.
These all work without you neding to reach for your iPhone. The Apple Watch supports Apple Pay, too, although we're still waiting for that to come to the UK.
A new Apple Watch app in iOS 8.2 (available to download today) lets you see and download apps.
Apple also confirmed there would be all-day battery life of around 18 hours.
Apple Watch: What other features does Apple's smartwatch have?
The Apple Watch is a customisable smartwatch designed to work with the iPhone that is also a comprehensive health- and fitness device. It's accurate to +/-50ms no matter where in the world you are, and allows you to connect and communicate directly from your wrist.
The way you interact with the device is entirely new: a Digital Crown enables you to interact with the watch without obstructing the screen, and also operates as the home button. Siri is also supported, allowing for smart messages and dictation. (See also: Microsoft Band vs Apple Watch comparison.)
A flexible retina display is a single crystal of sapphire. Force Touch, tiny electrodes around the display, recognise the difference between a tap and a press, allowing for different gestures to be made. A linear actuator provides haptic feedback. This is the Apple Watch's so-called Taptic Engine: more than just helpfully vibrating when you receive a new notification, it can do such things as provide slightly different vibrations for left- and right turns within the Maps app.
On the back a ceramic cover with sapphire lenses protects four sensors that make up the heart-rate monitor, which allows the Apple Watch to build up a comprehensive picture of your daily activities. The Apple Watch also has an accelerometer to measure body movement, and it uses the Wi-Fi and GPS in your iPhone to track distance. There's a speaker, too, which is water-resistant.
For charging the Apple Watch combines MagSafe and inductive charging in a completely sealed unit. You simply hold the back of the watch near the charging connector and magnets pull it into place. The Apple Watch should offer a typical battery life of 19 hours. The hardware is rather power-hungry, so for gaming you'll get only around 2.5 hours, but two- to three days on standby. Tim Cook said back in September that you'll probably want to charge the iWatch every night.
A custom-designed S1 chip resides inside the Apple Watch, and is completely encapsulated in resin to protect it from the elements, impact and wear. This is an entire computing solution on a single chip.
There is a range of watch faces (also known in watchmaking as complications), with everything from Astronomy and Solar to Modular, Timelapse, Utility, Motion, Photo and even Mickey Mouse, but personalisation extends way beyond the interface. Indeed, Apple claims to offer over two million ways to see time with the Apple Watch.
There are six easily interchangeable straps, including the Sport Band, which is tough, durable and sweat resistant, and the Leather Loop, which contains magnets for adjusting and fastening the watch. There is also the Link Bracelet, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle and Milanese Loop.
The Apple Watch is available in two sizes (38- and 42mm height), and three distinct collections: the Apple Watch collection has a polished silver or black case made from a custom alloy of stainless steel; the Apple Watch Sport collection has a 60 percent stronger anodised aluminium case in silver or space grey, with strengthened Ion-X glass and colourful, durable straps; and the AppleWatch Edition is made from 18-carat yellow or rose gold, which is twice as hard as standard gold, and has sapphire crystal glass, and equisitely crafted straps and closures.
Update 9 September: As expected Apple launched new models at the iPhone 6S/iPad Pro launch event including Rose Gold and Gold Sport models (coloured aluminium). It also announced a special Hermés collection in different sizes and an optional double strap starting at £1,000.
A Glances feature lets you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see whatever information you choose to have there. This is quick, at-a-glance summaries of such things as the weather forecast, your location or your calendar.
The Apple Watch lets you control music on your iPhone or computer, or music stored on the Watch itself. Any photos you favourite on your iPhone or Mac will also show up on your Apple Watch.
You can choose what types of notifications you receive on the Apple Watch, then simply raise your wrist to see the notification.
Digital Touch lets you connect with your friends with a single touch. You just press the button under the Digital Crown to see thumbnail images of your friends, then use these to message or call them. You can even draw them a picture on the watch, send them your heartbeat (a little odd) or give them a tap to know you're thinking of them (potentially creepier than it sounds, given the Taptic Engine). There's also a Walkie-Talkie mode.
The Apple Watch is also a great health- and fitness device, motivating you to get active. An Activity app tracks your daily activity, and stores that information over time, while a Workout app shows real-time information such as calories burned and distance travelled, and it can set you goals. According to Apple, over time the Apple Watch gets to know you just as a personal fitness instructor would.
The Activity app supports three 'rings': Move, Excercise and Stand. Stand shows you how often you've got off your behind and done something; Exercise measures brisk activity, and Move gives you an overview of how active you are.
The Apple Watch also supports the new NFC-enabled Apple Pay feature built into the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.