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Apple iWatch release date, price and specs: Apple Watch unveiled

Apple has finally unveiled its smartwatch! Here we bring you the Apple Watch release date, price and specs

Apple Watch

Apple's long awaited smartwatch, dubbed iWatch, launched today as the Apple Watch. We reveal the Apple Watch UK release date, price, specs and features. For Apple Watch rivals, see: the best smartwatches of 2014.

Also unveiled by Apple today: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iOS 8.

Apple has unveiled its Watch, a customisable smartwatch designed to work with the iPhone 6 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. Also see How to watch the iPhone 6 launch live and tune into our live coverage at New iPhone 6 live blog: Plus 2014 Apple iPhone Air, iOS 8, iWatch launch as it happens.

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.

Apple Watch

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. 

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.

Apple Watch

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.

Apple Watch straps

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.

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.

Apple Watch

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 iWatch 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.

Apple Watch

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.

Apple Watch UK release date

The Apple Watch will be available in early 2015. We will update this article as soon as an exact release date is given. The Apple Watch is compatible with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5.

Apple Watch price

The Apple Watch starts at $349 in the US, and we are awaiting UK price confirmation. Again, we will update this article as soon as that information is available.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

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