It's finally time for Apple Watch. Apple's “Spring Forward” event in San Francisco on Monday is widely expected to be the launch pad for its eagerly anticipated smartwatch.
The world got its first glimpse of Apple Watch at a glitzy event in Cupertino, Calif. in September, and the tech giant looks set to reveal more details about the technology on Monday.
The touchscreen device offers a host of features, from messaging to health and fitness apps, and can also be used for mobile payments.
Consumers will be paying close attention to Apple Watch pricing during Monday’s event. Apple has released only scant pricing information, announcing that the technology will start at $349.
Inevitably, there has been plenty of chatter about the Apple Watch price tag, particularly for the most expensive versions of the device. In a research note released earlier this week, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that Apple Watch Edition pricing could start at $4,999, according to media reports.
Some Apple Watch details have already been revealed. Apple showed off three versions of its smartwatch in September – the entry level Apple Watch Sport, the mid-tier Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition, a high-end version of the technology built using 18-karat rose or yellow gold. The watch, which offers 11 different faces, will also be available in two sizes – 38 mm and 42 mm.
Apple also touted a host of different straps that can be used with the device, from a ‘Sport Band’ built from Elastomer to a leather quilted leather loop to a stainless steel bracelet.
The smartwatch certainly boasts some interesting features, such as its ‘Digital Crown’ – a small dial on the side of the device that is used to navigate through the watch’s screens. Other features of Apple Watch include a “taptic engine,” which subtly vibrates to let users know when they have received a message or a notification from a source such as Facebook. Apple has also built sensors into the back of the Apple Watch to monitor vital signs such as heart rate and support the company’s drive into health and fitness technology.
The retina display on most of Apple Watch models is “laminated to a machined and polished single crystal of sapphire,” according to the tech giant, which notes that sapphire is second only to diamond as the hardest transparent material.
Like the iPhone and iPad, the device features Apple Pay contactless payment technology.
However, as Apple CEO Tim Cook explained during the launch, the device’s small screen makes it impractical to transfer the iPhone interface to Apple Watch. He also noted that Apple Watch is not a standalone device, adding that it is designed to work with the iPhone.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities will let users pair their Apple Watch with their iPhone.
FBR Capital Markets Analyst Daniel Ives predicts that the device may be a shot in the arm for the wearable technology market. “While it remains early innings for wearables, and the jury is still out around the Apple Watch, we believe this could be a major game changer,” he wrote. “While the watch is expected to launch in April, we ultimately believe the event could set the stage for greater adoption of wearables and open up another major area of growth on the consumer front with a number of other large technology stalwarts (e.g., Microsoft, Samsung, etc.) having already ‘tossed their hat in the ring’.”
Experts have also predicted that Apple Watch will send shockwaves through the watch industry, although the device’s aesthetics and battery life have come in for criticism. Citing sources who have handled the Apple Watch, 9to5Mac reports that the device should be able to handle 5 hours of fairly heavy application usage, and it won't run out of battery during a typical day of use. The source, however, said that the device will still need to be charged nightly, as its battery will not last through a second day.
Apple's "Spring Forward" event kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on Monday.
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