We had been speculating about it for over a year, but 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 for you to look at.
"Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad," says Apple CEO Tim Cook in a press release. "And one 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."
Cook is, of course, talking about the Apple Watch, which Apple design Guru Jony Ive explains 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 continues. "We've created an entire range of products that enable unparalleled personalisation." You can find out more about this personalisation, which is achievable through both hardware and software options, by reading on. You can also read our full first look review of the Apple Watch, including UK pricing information.
Plus, find out what's in store for next year: Apple rumours and predictions for 2015
Updated 5 December with quotes about the Apple Watch's design from Jony Ive, as well as new details that emerged with the launch of WatchKit and sales estimates for the smartwatch.
Apple Watch release date UK: When is the iWatch coming out?
As expected, the Apple Watch won't be available until early 2015, and Apple hasn't been any more specific than that. Apple CEO Tim Cook promises "it's worth the wait."
On 16 October 2014, Apple spoke about the Apple Watch during its special event that saw the launch of the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, Mac mini and 5K iMac, to reiterate that it's coming out in 'Early 2015,' and that developers can now build apps for the smartwatch using a new 'Watch Kit'.
The Apple Watch's release date is still under wraps, but now we know that January and February are out of the running for the time frame Apple has teased.
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 hearing rumours of a Valentine's Day release, but Apple is still working to get developers on board. If the Apple Watch is going to be a hit, it needs amazing apps on launch day. The company is looking for an Apple Watch Evangelist, according to a job listing posted last at the end of October.
Apple is looking for an iOS app development expert, the listing says, 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 next June.
Apple won't ship a product without a robust app ecosystem, which could be why the company won't confirm a release date, and if Apple is still looking for a point person to guide developers and offer them resources, then the Apple Watch launch might happen later in 2015 than predicted.
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: How many smartwatches will Apple sell?
Interest in smartwatches has soared in recent months, even as it has stalled for smart glasses, according to two-party survey of 8,266 consumers done in May and October by Futuresource Consulting.
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.
Apple emphasized styling, and other manufacturers have taken up that mantra, including Intel with its gemstone-embedded MICA, an intelligent 'bracelet'.
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.
Analysts from Morgan Stanley say that Apple could sell up to 30 million units of the Apple Watch in its first year, a much higher prediction than the average of 10 million to 12 million for the rest of Wall Street.
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: Everything we found out from Apple's WatchKit
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
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.
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.