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.
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 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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Intuit Mint Bills, by Jake Nolan:
Garmin for Apple Watch, by Jenn DiMenna:
Uber for Apple Watch, by Ryan Brownhill:
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.
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
Apple iWatch release date: When is the iWatch coming out?
On 28 August, Apple sent out press invitations to a 9 September special event, which we expect will see the unveiling of the iPhone 6 and many believe will also give us our first look at the rumoured iWatch. Our editors will be reporting live from the event - 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.
We've been putting our money on a Q3 iWatch launch since early this year - that's Autumn 2014 for you humans out there. Apple Insider has reporting this as fact based on a research note written by trusted analyst KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and seems to confirm heavy industry rumours.
"We believe the rumored iWatch will be Apple's most important product this year, carrying much more weight than iPhone 6," Kuo writes, adding, "as market feedback for the product should reveal whether Apple still has the ability to continue making game-changing products with Tim Cook at the helm."
Apple has in recent years settled in to a rhythm of updating its iPhones and iPads in two separate events in the autumn each year. We'd expect the iWatch launch to coincide with the iPhone 6 launch, which we now know is happening on 9 September. This gets the iWatch out in time for the all-important Thanksgiving/Christmas shopping season.
There was an outside chance that Apple will launch the iWatch at WWDC 2014, where iOS 8 was announced. However, there was no wearable iWatch unveiled in San Francisco this year.
Kuo's latest report states that Apple iWatch will enter mass-production in November, later than the original September prediction. "We have pushed back our estimated time of iWatch mass production from late-September to mid-/ late- November. We also lower our forecast of iWatch 2014 shipments by 40% to 3mn units," wrote Kuo putting it down to more complex hardware and software engineering.
This could still be true, as despite many reports suggesting a 9 September unveiling, it's believed that the iWatch won't actually be available to buy for some time after that. Trusted source Re/Code has cited its own sources in a report that claims the iWatch is "not shipping any time soon." It's possible we may have to wait until early 2015!
Will Apple launch an iWatch? Will the iWatch succeed?
There's been a lot of speculation about Apple's intention with regard to wearable tech. Much of it wrong-headed and hopeful. But the fact is that all the usual tell-tale signs are there for a major new product line from Apple. Indeed, in May 2013, Apple CEO Tim Cook told attendees at All Things D that "the wrist is interesting". That in itself doesn't mean much, but the level of rumours springing from usually reliable sources tells us that Apple will launch an iWatch, and it will be this year.
That's not the only time Apple has hinted at an iWatch, either. Cook has hinted on multiple occasions that Apple is working on a new product line. He's spoken about "new product categories" that the company is working on behind the scenes, and has said that Apple aims to be the best, not the first, with everything it makes. Apple certainly wouldn't be the first company to launch a smartwatch. In fact, the wearable tech market has been flooded with new smartwatches from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Pebble, LG and more already this year.
If you're still not convinced, there are two more pieces of evidence that we think my sway you. The first is that Apple actually owns the rights to the iWatch name in several countries, and the second is that there's an Apple patent that describes a wearable computer with a flexible display that can snap around the wrist to become a smartwatch.
Whether the iWatch will be a success is another matter. Much analysis points at the market-making successes of the iPod, iPhone and the iPad. But in each case there was an established need, and a nascent market. Apple simply made much better products than those that had gone before.
It's also worth pointing out that success is relative. By any metric the iPod, iPhone and iPad are hugely successful product lines. But their levels of success differ markedly: at its peak more than 50 million iPods were being sold each year. By contrast 70 million iPads were sold in 2013, and more than 116 million iPhones. Wearable tech is clearly a growth market, but whether it can hit any of those figures remains to be seen.
What's the point of an iWatch?
The aim of the iWatch would probably be to add a connected interface to your wrist, acting as a middle-man between you and your iPhone. Smartphones have replaced watches as our key informational tools, offering much greater functionality. But the form factor has taken us back to the time of pocket watches. We have to pull out our phones to tell the time, never mind all the other great information we can access.
That alone doesn't mean that smartwatches or even smartglasses such as Google Glass are going to be a success. You could argue that adding a tablet to our arsenal of connected devices is already one device too many (the dream of one-device-to-rule-them-all is further away than ever). But there is a market for anything Apple makes, and if anyone can create a smartwatch that is worth having it is Apple. Apple will launch an iWatch, and here is what we know and what we think we know.
(See also: Sony SmartWatch 2 review.)
Apple iWatch specs and features
This is where the facts end and the speculation truly kicks in. We understand that there may even be two iWatch models, with different, curved screen sizes of 1.3in or 1.5in. It's possible these will be male- and female-styled watches – after all, watches are as much about fashion as they are about technology in many cases. We expect flexible AMOLED displays with Sapphire crystal glass to prevent scratching. Apple owns a Sapphire crystal glass factory in Arizona, and it's recently believed to have begun production of the material. (See also: Apple iWatch to come in two sizes, analyst claims.)
Rumours point to an unusually large 250mAh battery - lengthy battery life will be a key battleground for wearable tech, and Apple is often a market-leader in this respect. Expect the iWatch to last more than a day between charges. It's possible motion charging may be introduced, to keep your iWatch battery topped up.
Unlike other smartwatches, we expect the iWatch to be able to operate on its own, like a tiny connected iPod. Clearly an important element will be the ability to offer an additional display for your iPhone, but offering a standalone product will allow Apple to keep in, and attract new Windows and Android users to its ecosystem.
We expect Apple Maps to be a key feature, along with a Mail app, simple browser and Siri. And you should be able to make and answer calls via the iWatch, as well as sending- and receiving text messages.
It's thought, though, that the biggest focus of Apple's iWatch will be fitness and health-tracking. It's rumoured that Apple is planning to introduce a new app called 'Healthbook' this year, which will work closely with the iWatch. Together, the app and smartwatch will be able to collect and collate data such as how many steps you've taken, how many calories you've burned and the distance you've walked. They'll also allegedly be able to monitor blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and more.
The health and fitness rumours are backed up by some of Apple's recent hires from the medical field, and also the recent talks of a partnership between Apple and Nike, which is believed to be discontinuing its FuelBand line.
Expect Bluetooth to connect the iWatch to your existing iOS device, meaning the smaller device doesn't need standalone Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity, but limiting its standalone capabilities. (This fits in with current Apple policy on the Bluetooth-based iBeacon, which makes it both more likely, and also more likely to be a rumour based on the facts as we know them.)
We've seen screenshots purportedly of iOS 8 that show an app called 'Watch Utility' running on an iPad and on an iPhone, so expect the iWatch to be compatible with both smartphones and tablets.
Apple iWatch price UK: How much will the iWatch cost?
At the time of writing anyone that tells you they know the price of the upcoming iWatch is either lying or telling you something they shouldn't. We've heard everything from $150 to thousands of US$. We can only speculate as to the truth of the matter. So here goes...
Although Apple is a premium manufacturer that operates at the top of the market, the price of current smartwatches gives some room for manouevre. Given that the Samsung Galaxy Gear launched at a hefty £299, we'd expect Apple to be in that region. In some ways that feels expensive, and in others cheap. But it is worth remembering that at the time of launch the iPhone and iPad felt cheap - even though they were at the top of their respective nascent markets.
The latest report, this time from generally accurate website Re/code, has said that Apple has considered pricing the iWatch at "around $400," which is likely to translate to roughly £329 here in the UK.