Apple finalized and solidified the release plans for the Apple Watch, telling customers to get ready to line up for the wearable device on April 24. The cheapest option, the Apple Watch Sport, will start at $349 for the 38 mm model and $50 more for the 42 mm model.
Meanwhile, the stainless steel Apple Watch will start at $549 for the 38 mm model, and that price will balloon all the way to $1,049 "depending on the band you pick," Apple CEO Tim Cook told the San Francisco crowd. The stainless steel 42 mm model will cost $50 more. Both models will be available for pre-order from Apple Stores and Apple's website beginning April 10; select stores will also begin hosting Apple Watch previews on that date. A far more lucrative Apple Watch Edition, priced "from $10,000" with solid-gold cases and custom-designed bands, will be made available in "select retail stores" in the near future as well.
"Apple Watch is the most personal device we have ever created," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "It’s not just with you, it’s on you. Since what you wear is an expression of who you are, we’ve designed Apple Watch to appeal to a whole variety of people with different tastes and preferences."
A brief “real-life” demonstration of the Apple Watch by Apple’s Kevin Lynch ran through a lot of features that the company had previously revealed at an event in September 2014, though this time with a better sense of exactly how the device's various functions might work in the real world. Users can enable voice recognition, meaning that saying “Hey Siri” to the watch will turn on a voice-powered search, and they can tap on the screen and turn the Apple Watch’s dial to navigate through various apps. Lynch demonstrated calling an UberX car via Uber, opening a flight boarding pass via Passbook, and sending “stickers” via WeChat.
Lynch showed off a location-sensitive notification about a hotel reservation, and in the case of the W Hotel chain, its Apple Watch app functioned both as a check-in device and as a digital room key. He also pretended to make a payment at a Whole Foods store by double-tapping his Apple Watch button—apparently the default way to bring up Apple Pay—and then holding his phone up to a credit card kiosk. His demo took advantage of iOS 8 features like voice messages and Handoff.
“We believe Apple Watch will be integral to your day, so we’ve designed it with all-day battery life,” Cook said to reassure heavy users about the Watch’s real-world use, the other big question mark the device has faced before its launch. “In a typical day, you can expect 18 hours.”
The September event covered at length the watch's integration with iOS, including the "QuickBoard" notification system, the separate WatchKit API, and the quirky "Digital Touch" way of sending notes and pictures to and from Apple Watches. Today’s event recapped much of that information, again showing us features like the watch’s health and fitness suite and the dial-like interface used to find and “Digitally Touch” a user’s friends. We also saw a few more animated watch faces, including a bouncy one of Mickey Mouse tapping his feet as time ticked away. On Monday, Cook demonstrated the ability to quickly swipe to common apps in a feature he called “Glances,” which was met with tiny text on the top and bottom of a default screen to hint at what those swipeable updates might be.
We got a brief demo of the watch in September, including a look at features like the "digital crown" and its basic GUI. We're hoping to go wrist-on with Apple Watches that are connected to actual iOS devices—meaning models from the iPhone 5 on up—by the end of today, and we'll bring you our impressions when we do.