We had been speculating about the Apple watch for well over a year, and Apple finally unveiled its first foray into wearable technology in September 2014. The Apple Watch (yep, not the iWatch), is an Apple-made smartwatch that was shown off during Apple's 9 September iPhone 6 event, with a new dial called the crown, close integration with iCloud and Siri and a flexible sapphire display. Here, we bring you the Apple Watch release date rumours in the UK, specs and features, UK price and photographs of the device.

Update: Tim Cook has revealed that the Apple Watch will ship in April during a conference call with analysts, but Apple says it's 'not confirmed' for April in UK.

When Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch he said: "Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people's lives. It's the most personal product we've ever made."Apple design guru Jony Ive explained that the Apple Watch includes multiple new technologies and an entirely new user interface designed "specifically for a device that's designed to be worn."

"It blurs the boundary between physical object and user interface," Ive said. "We've created an entire range of products that enable unparalleled personalisation."

Find out more about this personalisation, which is achievable through both hardware and software options, as well as the reasons why Apple believes the Apple Watch will be a category-defining product by reading on. We also have details of the expected release date of the Apple Watch, but will the UK release date of the Apple Watch be the same as in the US? You can also read our full first look review of the Apple Watch, including UK pricing information. Read next: Will the Apple Watch will be a flop?

Plus, find out what's in store for this year: Apple rumours and predictions for 2015

Apple Watch release date UK: When is the iWatch coming out?

On 16 October 2014, Apple spoke about the Apple Watch for the second time during its special event that saw the launch of the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, Mac mini and 5K iMac. At that event it reiterated that it's coming out in 'Early 2015,' and that developers can now build apps for the smartwatch using a new 'Watch Kit'.

Now Apple's CEO Tim Cook has confirmed that the watch will be available in April, although he is yet to confirm the actual launch date. According to Cook the launch is on schedule. Until that announcement Apple hadn't been any more specific than "early 2015".

However, it still may be the case that the UK launch is delayed beyond that date. Reports early in January suggested that the Apple Watch would launch in the UK and other parts of Europe in early 2015, after the Apple Watch messaging changed on the country websites to “Early 2015” from “Available in 2015”. However, a few days later that message had changed back to “Available in 2015” since, suggesting that Apple may have some hurdles to overcome in various locations before the watch can go on sale.

When our sister title Digital Arts spoke with Apple, the company said "We haven't announced which countries will launch in April yet."

There have been concerns here in the UK and Europe that the Apple Watch will launch first in the US, with a delay of perhaps months before it goes on sale here. Hopefully that won’t be the case.

Beyond the April time frame, we still don't know exactly when the Apple Watch will launch. However, we can rule out the first weekend as 3rd - 6th April is Easter weekend and therefore not likely to be a suitable weekend for the launch. 

While April may not sound that 'early' in 2015, we knew that the launch wouldn't happen before March: Angela Ahrendts, the company's senior VP of retail and online stores, told employees in video remarks that the watch launch will happen after Chinese New year on 19 February.

9To5Mac obtained a manuscript of the message, in which Ahrendts says the next few months will be a "marathon" for Apple Store workers: first, the holiday rush, then Chinese New Year, then the Apple Watch release in spring.

We were previously hearing rumours of a Valentine's Day release (probably because of the romantic idea of the heart beat pulsing connection with your loved one), but with Apple still working to get developers on board such an early launch was always unlkely. If the Apple Watch is going to be a hit, it needs amazing apps on launch day.

Sources have also indicated that Apple is kicking off a training programme to familiarise Apple Store staff with the new watch. This programme is set to take place around the 9-16 February.

Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an excellent track record for Apple predictions, was one of those expecting a March release. He expected that the Apple Watch will begin shipping in March. He also predicted that Apple will reveal more details about the Apple Watch soon, possibly even offering some hints and clues during its Q1 2015 earnings call on 27 January. Kuo thinks Apple will ship 2.8 million Apple Watch units next quarter. 

For some time we have been estimating a UK launch date is early April, although it is unlikely to fall around Easter, which is on the 5th April this year.

However, we could be waiting until June and Apple's WWDC event for the launch both in the UK and in the US. Apple won't ship a product without a robust app ecosystem, which could be why the company won't confirm a release date yet. A job listing posted last at the end of October, suggested that the company is looking for an Apple Watch Evangelist and an iOS app development expert, to help third-party developers build Apple Watch apps. Duties also include crafting presentations for the Worldwide Developers Conference, so it looks like we'll see plenty of Apple Watch apps next June.

Read: iPhone 6 review and iPhone 6 Plus review.

Apple Watch price UK: How much will the iWatch cost?

The Apple Watch starts at $349, which we expect will be around £300 here in the UK. That’s £216 plus 20% VAT and a little more 'Apple Tax'.

An alternative way of looking at the price is to find a comparably priced product. The 64GB iPod touch costs $299 in the US and £249 in the UK. While the Retina iPad Mini costs $399 in the US and £319 in the UK. So pick a number in the middle of the two, about £294. Therefore, we think our £300 estimate is pretty close to the starting price you can expect to see.

New reports from French Apple site igen.fr have suggested that the Apple Watch Edition, which is made with real gold, could cost up to $5000, which is more than £3000. The Steel version could start at $500, the report says, which could translate to around £450.

We'll bring you UK pricing when it is announced.

You'll also need to own an iPhone in order to use the Apple Watch. The Watch is compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple Watch & the iPhone companion app: features

The iOS 8.2 beta reveals that there is an Apple Watch application being designed for the Apple Watch and now features of this companion app for the iPhone have appeared, hinting at many new features of the Apple Watch.  

The application will manage settings for the Apple Watch applications, and the way the iPhone and Apple Watch interact.

9to5Mac has had a peek at the new Apple Watch companion app, and has published a number of screen shots to illustrate it.

You can try AppSimilator's Apple Watch demo here, which offers up an idea of what the Apple Watch interface is like.

The Apple Watch app will offer the following features.

Apple Watch Home Screen layout

You will be able to change the layout of the Apple Watch home screen via a virtual view in the iPhone app.

Apple Watch clock functions

According to 9to5Mac, there is a new clock face feature called Monogram that will let you add an embedded stamp of 1-4 letters on your clock face. This is one way to personalise the clock face.

The iPhone app will allow you to set a red dot to appear at the top of the Apple Watch clock face whenever a notification is received.

You can also chose to track a stock and have the data appear on the watch face.

Apple Watch Messages  

Users of the iPhone companion app will be able to make various tweaks to the way the messages function works on the Apple Watch. For example, users will be able to switch between Dictation and Audio Replies as your preferred means of replying. Users will also be enable to disable Read Receipts, set up default text replies, and choose not to receive alerts from certain people.

Apple Watch Maps

Users of the Apple Watch iPhone app will be able to enable or disable the Taptic Engine for turn-by-turn directions, determining whether the watch ‘taps’ you on the wrist, or not.

Apple Watch Accessibility

There are a number of accessibility settings that can be managed on the iPhone app, these include a VoiceOver feature, the ability to zoom in on the screen, and settings to reduce motion, control audio, reduce transparency, enable bold text, and more.

Apple Watch Passcode

Users will be able to set up a four number passcode for the Apple Watch. This needs to be set up in order to use Apple Pay (soon to launch in the UK, reports indicate). Users will be able to unlock the Apple Watch by unlocking the connected iPhone, according to 9to5Mac, but this will only work if the Apple Watch is connected to the body and if the code is entered incorrectly up to 10 times then the watch will wipe all its data.

Apple Watch Activity, Motion, Fitness

Via the companion app on the iPhone users will be able to activate fitness features including a reminder if they have been sitting for too long, or a summary of how much activity the watch has logged in the past 4, 6 or 8 hours.

Apple Watch About Screen

On the iPhone app users will be able to see the storage capacity available on the Apple Watch, how many apps and tracks are stored on the watch, Bluetooth and WiFi information, and more. 9to5Mac claims that there doesn’t appear to be any information about photo storage, suggesting that the photos may not be stored on the device itself.  

Apple Watch & Apple's WatchKit: features

Apple has launched WatchKit for app developers, giving further insight into how Apple's first wearable, the Apple Watch, will work.

WatchKit is the framework that developers will use to create Apple Watch apps. It's available now to developers as part of the iOS 8.2 SDK beta, along with new design guidelines that demonstrate how Watch apps should behave.

In its release announcement, Apple names ESPN, Instagram and American Airlines as early partners. The developers guidelines also reveal new details on the hardware itself.

Apple left a lot of questions unanswered when it announced the Apple Watch in September, particularly on the topic of third-party apps. The new guidelines give a much better sense of what it will be like to use the Apple Watch once app developers get on board.

Third-party Apple Watch apps will have a few different modes at their disposal:

'Glances provide quick looks at things like sports scores, stocks and weather. They're non-interactive and must be confined to a single screen, so that users can swipe between Glances from different apps. However, tapping on a Glance can open a full watch app if it exists.

Notifications on the Apple Watch borrow heavily from interactive notifications in iOS 8, letting users take action on emails, social media mentions and other notifications without opening the app itself. Notifications will initially appear in a "short look" preview mode, and they'll go away if the user lowers his or her wrist. More details and interactive options will appear if the user taps on the notification or leaves his or her wrist up.

Full-blown apps allow for deeper interactions as needed. For example, users could open a to-do app to view and dismiss tasks, or open a music app to control playback.

In all cases, Apple emphasises the idea of quick, lightweight interactions. "A Watch app complements your iOS app; it does not replace it," the design guidelines say. "If you measure interactions with your iOS app minutes, you can expect interactions with your Watch app to be measured in seconds."

One other important note: At launch, all Watch apps will required a paired phone to operate. Apple says fully native Watch apps will be available later in the year.

The design guidelines also reveal a screen resolution of 240x272 pixels for the 38mm Watch, and 390 x312 pixels for the 42mm watch. Apple says that apps should display the same content for both sizes.

Apple Watch design & features: Digital Crown

The Apple Watch has a dial on the side, much like the one found on traditional watches, which Apple has called the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown contains sensors that turn movement into data, so will be the main input method for the Apple Watch rather than the touchscreen display. You'll be able to scroll, zoom and navigate using the Digital Crown.

Apple makes a valid point about a touchscreen display on a smartwatch, suggesting that using pinch-to-zoom gestures on such a small display will simply cover up the content.

"The Digital Crown is Apple's most revolutionary navigation tool since the iPod Click Wheel and iPhone Multi-Touch," writes Apple in its press release.

The Digital Crown also acts as a Home button, and a way to access Siri.

Apple Watch design & features: Display

The Apple Watch will be available with two different screen sizes. The first measures 38mm tall, while the second is slightly bigger at 42mm tall.

The flexible Retina display of the Apple Watch is made from a single crystal of sapphire, or if you opt for an Apple Watch from the Sport Collection, it'll be strengthened Ion-X glass. This display is designed to be able to detect force, too.

"In addition to recognising touch, Apple Watch senses force, adding a new dimension to the user interface," says Apple. Force Touch uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press, and trigger instant access to a range of contextually specific controls.

The Apple Watch's display will activate when you move your wrist.

The Apple Watch isn't waterproof, so don't expect to be able to wear it while swimming or showering. It is, however, water resistant, which means sweating, wearing it while you're outside in the rain or washing your hands will be fine, according to David Pogue.

Apple Watch: Collections and strap designs

There are six different, interchangeable straps available for the Apple Watch. These include the Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle and Milanese Loop.

The various designs of the Apple Watch itself are split into three collections. The first is simply called Apple Watch, with a polished case made from a custom alloy of stainless steel. The second is the Sport collection, which has an anodised aluminium case and is 60 per cent stronger, according to Apple. The third is the Apple Watch Edition is made from 18k gold, up to twice as hard as standard gold apparently.

"One of the biggest challenges that we found was that we couldn't all be sitting there wearing the same thing. I don't think we want to wear the same thing," said Jony Ive in an interview at the London Design Museum, talking about Apple's decision to make the design of the Apple Watch so customisable. "Which is why we developed this system, not a single product."

"It is a flexible system, so hopefully it will be appealing, but there's still a very singluar idea," Ive continued. "We're not just throwing a whole bunch of ideas against the wall to see which one sticks... like some people." (We're looking at you, Samsung).

Apple Watch specs: Processor

The chip inside the Apple Watch is custom-designed, and is called the S1. This chip features many subsystems that have been encapsulated in resin for extra durability.

Apple Watch specs: Sensors

There are four, super-durable sapphire lenses on the back of the device, which houses a sensor that uses infrared and visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to detect your heart rate. This sensor is joined by an accelerometer, and uses the GPS and WiFi in your iPhone to measure physical movement, to help the device collect data about your daily activities.

You'll get a comprehensive picture of your daily activity from the Apple Watch, and you'll be able to establish and suggest goals.

Apple Watch specs: Other features

The Apple Watch has a new feature called the Taptic Engine, which provides haptic feedback to users. It works with the Apple Watch's built-in speaker to enable a new set of alerts and notifications that you'll be able to both hear and feel.

When getting turn-by-turn notifications, for example, you'll feel a different alert that'll let you know whether you need to turn left or right without needing to actually look at the display.

Apple Watch specs: Charging & battery life

The Apple Watch features inductive charging, and there's no alignment or exposed contacts necessary because it's completely sealed. It uses MagSafe technology that lets you hold the connector near the back of the watch and let the magnets snap it into place automatically.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has suggested that you'll need to charge your Apple Watch every night. "We think people are going to use it so much that you're going to wind up charging it daily – overnight… Given my own experience and others around me, you're going to wind up charging every day because you're using it so much that it's going to need to be charged," he said in an interview at the Wall Street Journal Live technology conference on 28 October.

A new report that emerged in late January 2015 suggests that Apple is aiming to give the Apple Watch a 19 hour battery life for mixed use, but that it might only last for 2.5 hours with 'heavy' use.

9To5Mac reports that people with knowledge of the smartwatch's development have said that the processor and screen Apple has chosen are particularly power-hungry, which poses a problem when it comes ot battery life. Apparently, Apple is set to achieve a 2-3 day battery life for standby or low power modes, but just 2.5 hours for game-play or 3.5 hours of standard app use. Fitness tracking apps will drain the battery in 4 hours. Most poeple won't be using apps for that long each day, so a 19 hour  battery life is more likely for mixed use, with the majority of the time in idle use.

These figures have been determined thanks to the 3,000 Apple Watches that are believed to be in the wild for testing right now.

AppleWatch features: Software

Apple has created a brand new user interface for the Apple Watch. It comes with a range of watch faces, and is personalisable. There are currently 11 watch faces in total, including the dynamic Timelapse face, the Astronomy face and the Solar face. Additional customisable information for the Apple Watch's main display includes moonphases, upcoming events, activity level display and more.

The Apple Watch is designed to provide the user with information that can be viewed at a glance. That's why Apple has come up with Smart Replies that can be used in conjunction with dictation to allow you to respond to messages.

The Apple Watch also works with the new Handoff feature introduced with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, so you'll be able to pick up messages you've begun on your Apple Watch straight on your iPhone.

A second feature is Glances, which, as the name suggests, shows you information at a glance including location, stocks, appointments and more.

You'll be able to control your music through the Apple Watch, and it seems like you'll be able to store music on the device itself, too.

You'll be able to access your calendar, see the weather forecast, receive notifications, send an audio recording or convert an audio recording to text using dictation, ask Siri questions, take a look through your favourited photos, view Maps and get directions. Other apps include Twitter, CityMapper, home automation apps, sports apps, fitness apps and more.

Two new apps designed for the Apple Watch by Apple are Activity and Workout, which monitor your activity and let you set goals for specific types of workouts. Both of these apps use the accelerometer, heart rate sensor, GPS and WiFi to collect the relevant data, which will work with the Fitness app on your iPhone.

There's also a new app called Digital Touch, which will let users communicate with someone just by tapping. You can draw on the AppleWatch, change colours or send your heartbeat. Macworld.com's Jason Snell says it's "weird stuff," and it certainly seems a bit gimmicky!

We'll continue updating this article as Apple makes further announcements about the Apple Watch. You can read all of the Apple Watch rumours from before the announcement by going to page 2.

Apple Watch: How many smartwatches will Apple sell?

Analyst’s Apple Watch sales estimates for 2015 currently range from 10 million to 60 million. That 60 million figure is a little extreme – to put things in perspective in the first year it was on sale the iPad sold 14.8 million units. Read about whether the Apple Watch will be a flop here.

A Quartz survey of US smartphone users has found that 2.2% of iPhone owners are “extremely likely” to buy an Apple Watch. Another 3.2% are “very likely” to buy Apple’s watch while 14.3% are they’re “somewhat likely”. That leaves 18.9% who are “not so likely”, and 61.4% who state that they are “not at all likely” to buy one.

Another survey by Morgan Stanley back in November, predicted 30 million Apple Watches will sell in 2015 based on their AlphaWise survey, which “indicates initial purchase intentions in the US are higher than they were for the iPhone and iPad pre-launch." Morgan Stanley predicts that at launch the Apple Watch will have a 10% penetration rate, compared to the iPhone, which had a 7% rate and the iPad, with 14%.

Yet another poll of 4,000 people in the UK, US, India and China by UBS suggested that 10% of smartphone users are “very likely” to buy a smart watch. The Apple Watch was likely to be purchased by 25% of positive respondents. However, that survey suggests that the Samsung Gear is the most likely device to be purchased at 37%.  

According to the Quartz poll, the high cost (starting at $349/estimated at £300) was one reason for the lack of interest. Of those interested in buying an Apple Watch, 60.1% said they would not pay more than $200, while 25.7% said they would pay $200-$299, and 8.6% were happy to pay from $300-$399.

A two-party survey of 8,266 consumers done in May and October by Futuresource Consulting found that interest in smartwatches had soared in recent months, even as it has stalled for smart glasses. Much of the uptick in interest in smartwatches coincided with Apple's announcement in September that it would begin selling the Apple Watch in early 2015.

When Futuresource asked 4,000 consumers in the US, UK, France and Germany in May whether they intend to buy wearable tech, 4% expressed interest in a smartwatch. That number more than doubled to 9% in a follow up survey of 4,266 consumers in October.

As for iPhone owners asked in May about their wearable tech buying plans, 6% wanted a smartwatch. That number almost tripled to 17% in October – a month after the Apple Watch announcement.

Futuresource has predicted 51 million wearable devices of all types will be sold in 2014, with 74 million sold in 2015. Even though that number is rising, it still remains a small portion of the 1 billion-plus smartphones that will be sold in 2014.

Apple Watch: What is the market for Apple's watch

Who will buy the Apple Watch is a big question. Aside from Apple fanatics, who would want to wear this high priced smartwatch?

One way to find out might be to look at how many people wear watches. The Quartz poll asked how many in the polled group wore a watch, and whether it was a permium product. It found that half of those surveyed wear a watch, but of those, only 17.2% wear a luxury brand. Premium watch brands were worn by 44.1%.

Another group of people who might be interested in the Apple Watch are those who already wear an activity tracker. According to a separate Morgan Stanley survey, 6% of those polled currently own a wearable device, including fitness trackers.

Those interested in getting the most out of their connected home appliances may also be interested in the Apple Watch. One trend that the Apple Watch is likely to be at the forefront of is the Internet of Things, and IDC predicts that this new market will be worth $7 trillion by 2020. The research agency (that is a sister company to Macworld publisher IDG) states that the worldwide IoT install base will see a compound annual growth rate of 17.5 percent between 2013 and 2020.

Another area likely to boost the popularity of the Apple Watch is health care. In a Morgan Stanley’s survey, 62% of those polled said they had already made significant changes to their lifestyles due to their wearable devices.

How successful will the Apple Watch be?

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has predicted that the launch of the Apple Watch will "mark the tipping point when wearables go from niche to mainstream." He referred to Transparency Market Research, which has predicted that the wearables market could see $20 billion in sales over the next few years.

Read:  Why it doesn’t matter it Apple Watch is a flop – it will still change the world.

Read on to see what we expected from the Apple Watch prior to Apple's unveiling of the product in September 2014.