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Apple Watch brings innovation to your wrist

But sorry, Apple fans, the smart watch won't be available until early 2015

Published: September 09, 2014 04:00 PM

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Apple Watch has many watch faces, including one that lets you fly through space.

The widely rumored and eagerly anticipated Apple smart watch is finally confirmed, and it was Apple's famed "one more thing" announcement at its press event today. Apple's design expertise and innovation are definitely in evidence. But don't get in line at the Apple Store just yet. It won't be on sale until early next year. That's regrettable, since most of the company's competitors are already have smart watches on the market.

Apple didn't mention the screen size or battery life of the Apple Watch, which is a bit of a surprise. But the company gave us a lot of other information about this smart watch. (Check out our first look at the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and learn more about the Apple Watch from our hands-on at the Apple event.)

Unique interface navigation

The Apple Watch (not iWatch, as almost everyone had thought it would be called) features a new way of navigating through its onscreen interface. On the right of the watch (sorry, lefties) is a little knob Apple calls the Digital Crown, which contains infrared LEDs and photodiodes that turn mechanical gestures into digital input, allowing you to zoom and scroll through the interface on the display.

Combine this with a sensitive Retina display protected by Sapphire glass that can tell the difference between taps and swipes, said Apple, and it turns navigation into something that looks kind of like a 3-dimensional experiece. You can turn the digital crown to quickly zoom in and out on a map or scroll through a list, without blocking your screen with fingers. Press the Digital Crown, and you'll return to the home screen. To access Siri (Apple's intelligent personal assistant), you'll press the Digital Crown and ask a question.

Press the button below the Digital Crown to see contacts and get in touch with them quickly. Through a feature called Digital Touch, you'll be able to send them a line drawing or animations, even one of your own heartbeat—that they'll feel on their wrist. This looked rather amazing in the demo.
 

What it looks like

The Apple Watch is rectangular, with rounding at its corners and edges. It will come in two sizes and three "collections":  Apple Watch, with a polished stainless steel case; Apple Watch Sport, with a tough anodyzed aluminum case, and Apple Watch Edition, made of 18K gold (twice as hard as standard gold.)
 
Apple is clearly paying a lot of attention to the idea that smart watches need to look good. They'll offer six kinds of straps in many colors, materials, and styles—and an ingenious method to change them easily by sliding them on and off the watch.

Check our full collection of smart watch reviews, as well as first looks at the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, and Moto 360. And don't skip our sneak peek at the new Samsung wearables, with video.

Press the Digital Crown to see all your apps.

Fitness

The watch contains many sensors, including an accelerometer, heart-rate monitor, and gyroscope to track your activities. A Fitness app will track all your movement, and the Workout app lets you customize goals for specific activities, such as running or biking. They'll share the data with the iOS 8 Health app on your iPhone.

Other features

For notifications of incoming e-mail, phone calls, and so on, you'll feel a buzz (Apple calls this the "Taptic," as it feels like a tap on the wrist), then they show up on the watch when you lift your wrist.

A feature called QuickBoard analyzes the text in a message to suggest quick canned replies. You can also dictate replies, or use animated customized emojis.

The Apple Watch features inductive (wireless) charging: A magnet on its back helps you to fit it precisely onto the charger.

With this smart watch, you'll be able to control music that's playing on other Apple devices, and Apple TV. It can serve as a viewfinder for your iPhone camera, too.

Apple emphasized, of all things, telling time on the Apple Watch. The company talked to horologists (experts on time-telling machines) to inform its design.

The Apple Watch will require an iPhone, which is no surprise. You can use an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus—but you can also use it with an iPhone 5, 5c, or 5s. The price will start at $349.

We look forward to testing the Apple Watch when it's available. We only wish that were sooner.

—Carol Mangis

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