Apple Watch revealed: A wrist-worn, personalized communications & fitness device with 'digital crown' physical controls
By AppleInsider Staff Apple's hotly anticipated, highly secretive smart wrist watch was finally unveiled to the public on Tuesday in the form of Apple Watch, a device that the company said will define the emerging wearable devices market.
One of the most unique aspects of the Apple Watch is the "digital crown," a physical dial that rests on the right side of the device. Using this, users can interact with the device without a need to touch the screen, which would obscure it.
The face is also an input, with unique "tap" and "force press" gestures enabled by special electrodes capable of sensing pressure.
The crown button also acts as the home button, and can be pressed to return a user to the main screen. A button located below the crown allows users to quickly access contacts.
The Apple Watch comes with advanced sensors that turn on the display when a user raises their wrist. Sensors are also found underneath the watch, placed against a user's wrist, to gather data like heart rate information.
For notifications, Apple integrated a "Taptic" feedback engine, which basically employs a linear vibrating motor that alerts only the user to incoming messages, events and more.
Apple worked with horological experts around the world to understand the history and culture of watches, informing a universal design that can be worn all day.
Six different straps are available, including an elastomer-based sport band, leather loop with embedded magnets, leather band, classic leather buckle type, stainless steel and stainless steel mesh with magnetic closure.
The Apple Watch also comes in two sizes and three "collections." The vanilla Apple Watch series features a polished stainless steel case, the Apple Watch Sport boasts an aluminum chassis, while the Apple Watch Edition is the high-end collection and comes in "hardened" gold.
By Leo Kelion Technology desk Apple has unveiled a smartwatch - the Apple Watch - its first new product line since the first iPad and the death of its co-founder Steve Jobs.
The device runs apps, acts as a health and fitness tracker and communicates with the iPhone.
While rival smartwatches already exist, experts said Apple had a history of entering sectors relatively late and then changing their direction.
Apple also unveiled two new handsets that are larger than previous models.
The iPhone 6's screen measures 4.7in (11.9cm) and the iPhone 6 Plus's 5.5in (14.0cm) - a change that analysts said should help prevent users migrating to Android.
It also announced a new service called Apple Pay, which chief executive Tim Cook said he hoped would "replace the wallet" in shops.
The Apple Watch offers a range of displays and allows the owner to change its straps
Watch apps The Apple Watch comes in two sizes and is controlled by what Apple calls a "digital crown" - a dial on its side that allows content on its screen to be magnified or scrolled through, and can also be pressed inwards to act as a home button.
The watch's rear features LEDs and sensors to detect the user's heart rate
The display is a touchscreen that can detect the difference between a light tap and heavier pressure from the user's fingers. In addition, the device runs Siri - Apple's voice-controlled "personal assistant".
It offers a variety of different watchfaces, can alert the user to notifications, act as a heart rate monitor and show maps.
Apple said that apps could be processed on an iPhone, but displayed on the watch in order to extend battery life. It did not say how often the device needed to be recharged.
Although some of these features are available from competing products, one observer said the device had the potential to ignite the wearable tech sector.
"I'm sure that for many people, waiting to see what Apple did was a first step before going out and buy a wearable technology product, whether or not it's an Apple one they get," said Tim Coulling, senior analyst at research firm Canalys.
Motorola's president, Rick Osterloh, told the BBC last week that he welcomed the idea of Apple "growing" the smartwatch market, even though it would compete with his own product, the Moto 360.
WATCH: Rory Cellan-Jones asks if Apple Watch can convert a sceptical public to wearable technology
Mr Coulling added that other rivals probably felt likewise.
"The buzz that Apple's entry will generate about wearables is unquestionable," he explained.
Apple has redesigned several of its apps to fit onto the Watch's smaller screen
"It has a huge marketing budget and uses slick advertisers, so its launch will generate interest around the whole product segment."
The watch - which comes in three different editions - relies on its user owning an iPhone 5 or more recent model.
It will cost $349 (216) - which is more than recently announced Android Wear watches from Motorola, Sony and others - and will not be available until "early 2015".
Bigger phones While Apple Watch was the most anticipated product, the company's new handsets are likely to be its biggest earners.
Apple saw its global share of smartphone shipments slip from 13% to 11.7% between the second quarters of 2013 and 2014, according to research firm IDC, while Android's share grew.
"The main benefit for Apple in going to a larger size of screen is not so much to woo people over to its devices, but to prevent its customers defecting, particularly to devices such as Samsung's Galaxy Note," said John Delaney, head of IDC's European mobility team.
The new iPhones are bigger and thinner than the previous version
"But one should bear in mind that Apple's decline is relative - the smartphone market has expanded, and most of the expansion has taken place in the lower price bracket that Apple doesn't address."
Apple had previously justified the 3.5in and 4in screen sizes of its existing iPhones as being suited to one-handed use. In 2010, the company's co-founder Steve Jobs went so far as to say "no-one's going to buy" a phone that they could not get a single hand around.
But one expert said a market had developed for so-called phablets.
"Watching video is definitely something that appeals on a bigger display, as well as gaming. And for business customers, having more space to do emails properly and look at and edit presentations helps," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. SMARTPHONE SALES BETWEEN JANUARY AND JULY 2014:
Apple said that the A8 chip featured in the new phones would provide 25% faster compute performance than before.
The improved resolutions - dubbed "retina HD" - mean that the iPhone 6 offers 326 pixels per inch and the iPhone 6 Plus 401ppi. While better than before, the resolutions are still beaten in terms of raw numbers by Samsung's flagships - the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 - and the HTC One.
New sensors include a barometer, which Apple said would help fitness apps distinguish whether the owner was running up a mountain or along a flatter surface.
The M8 co-processor can now estimate distances as well, which should also help provide more accurate readings.
The handsets will be available for sale on 19 September. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29128083