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Apple Watch release date, price, specs and features UK: When is the Apple Watch coming out? Apple Watch on sale today, but many customers will be disappointed

Everything you need to know about the Apple Watch (aka iWatch), including its UK release date, price and features

When is the iWatch coming out? Apple's Watch has finally gone on sale in the UK, but many customers will be disappointed. Here we reveal everything you need to know about the Apple Watch, including its UK release date, price and features. 

Apple Watch UK release date: When is the iWatch coming out? How to buy an Apple Watch

The Apple Watch went on sale today (24 April), and the first batch of pre-ordered watches have gone out to purchasers. However, those hoping to buy an Apple Watch today will be left disappointed. For Apple Watch rivals, take a look at our round-up of the best smartwatches of 2015.

According to Apple there will be no watches available to buy in store now or throughout May. Customers have been advised to buy the Apple Watch online, but warned that they may need to wait up to a month for delivery. Read: How to choose your Apple Watch - The complete buying guide.

From today the Apple Watch is available (at least to place your order) in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan, with more countries to follow.

Apple Watch

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 5iPhone 5SiPhone 5CiPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple Watch features

Tim Cook on 9 March 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.

Apple Watch make calls

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.

Scroll down below our launch event blog for more information on the Apple Watch and how it works.

Apple Watch launch event live blog

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.)

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. According to 9to5Mac, 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. See: Best Apple Watch charging stands.

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 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.

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 companion app for iPhone confirms features

iOS 8.2 beta reveals that an Apple Watch companion app for iPhone is in development, according to 9to5Mac. This reveals a host of features available to the Apple Watch. For example, the app will allow users to view a virtual representation of the Watch's home screen on their iPhone, and use this to organise and manage apps. There are also some new features for the clock, including a red dot that appears on the Watch when a notification is received on the iPhone, plus a new Monogram complication. With messages you can opt to send an automatic reply or dictate your response, and you can set up read receipts and specify from whom you should receive messages on the Apple Watch. For security you can also set a passcode, and opt to wipe the Watch's data if it is incorrectly entered 10 times.

AppleInsider has delved right into this Companion app, so check it out for lots more details and screenshots.

Apple Watch Companion app

Apple Watch apps

One of the first apps to come to the Apple Watch is Letterpad, a word puzzle from Nimblebit, the developer behind Tiny Tower. TouchArcade says in the game you get a grid of nine letters and must use them to make words. The below picture is a mockup of how the game will look on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch apps Letterpad

The 20th project from creative blog the Letter Society was to create a new use for the Apple Watch. Some great examples are shown below of how apps might look on the new Apple Watch (via The Verge).

Intuit Mint Bills, by Jake Nolan:

Apple Watch gif 1 

Garmin for Apple Watch, by Jenn DiMenna:

Apple Watch gif 1

Uber for Apple Watch, by Ryan Brownhill:

Apple Watch gif 4

For more examples head over to the Letter Society.

Apple Watch sales

CCSInsight is touting 2015 as the make or break year for the smartwatch and it's no surprise mainly down to the fact the Apple Watch will go on sale this year.

For starters, the bean counting firm predicts that shipments will jump to 75 million which is a 158 percent increase on 2014. It says that the Apple will sell a total of 20 million Apple Watch units by the end of the year, meaning it will account for more than a quarter of the market this year.

That figure is 7 percent of consumers who own a compatible iPhone at the time of the product's launch. It also matches closely with how many original iPads Apple sold when it first came out.

The hype surrounding the Apple's first wearable will catapult it almost instantly to be the most successful smartwatch ever, according to CCS. The firm expects Apple to "employ its full marketing arsenal and the power of its brand to create another must-have status symbol."

Apple Watch: Try the Apple Watch today

Pipes' Apple Watch Demo lets you try the Apple Watch experience in your browser right now. Just head to demoapplewatch.com to test drive the Apple Watch.

Try Apple Watch today

You can also see what it's like to use the Apple Watch in the video at the top of this page, courtesy of our sister site Macworld.com.

Apple Watch: Rent the Apple Watch for $20 per week

US customers will have the opportunity to rent the Apple Watch before deciding whether they want to buy. San Francisco-based startup Lumoid.com lets you borrow up to five wearables for a week while you make up your mind which is for you, and if you decide to buy none you pay only $20. A waiting list for the Apple Watch will be available on its site later this week.

Apple Watch: Who wants to buy the Apple Watch?

When Apple finally unveiled the iWatch the world was waiting for, albeit with a slightly different name, it did so to a sea of excitement. According to Futuresource, in the five months between May and October it saw a 125 percent increase in interest in smartwatches among the 8000 consumers it polled, and many of these enthusiasts were iPhone users. But that was three months ago, and it's likely we'll be waiting another three for the Apple Watch to make an appearance. Is excitement waning? Did Apple unveil the iWatch too soon?

We ran our own poll in an attempt to find out whether the Apple Watch (or indeed any smartwatch) was exciting enough to make users switch platform. Out of nearly 11,000 readers 75 percent would not. Only 10 percent said yes, while the others were undecided.

Apple Watch clones at CES 2015: Apple Watch for Android

According to The FT, January's CES 2015 show has seen a number of Chinese manufacturers showing clones of the Apple Watch. These are near-identical copies, and it's difficult to tell them apart from the real thing. These cost from as little as $60 each, which is a long way off Apple's $350 asking price.

The watches reportedly use a customised version of Android Wear that has been made to more closely resemble Apple's Watch interface.

See also: How to use an Apple Watch

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

See all of the rumours from before the official Apple Watch launch on the following page.

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