Apple Watch release date, news and features

Apple Watch confirmed for April launch

Apple Watch release date news and rumours

Update: Apple sent out invitations to a March 9 event where we'll surely learn more about its first wearable. The "Spring Forward" event is slated for 9am PT/12 pm ET/5pm GMT, so be sure to tune into TechRadar for all the details come that Monday.

The biggest questions remaining are how much it will cost and when it will actually go on sale, but we're also curious whether Apple has addressed lingering concerns around the iWatch's battery life. Guess we're only days away from finding out.

Read on for more on the Apple Watch!

Apple Watch is at long last coming in April - you can set your friend's inferior Android Wear watch to it - and we know all about what's literally been hiding up CEO Tim Cook's sleeve.

It's a sapphire-coated smartwatch officially dubbed Apple Watch, shedding the fabled iWatch moniker as the company focuses on its first chic wearable over geeky tech.

With the new April release date announced and Apple employees reportedly already wearing it, it's now sent out an invite asking people to "Spring Forward" on March 9. Pricing and release date incoming people!

Matching Apple's drive for style, this iPhone-compatible watch sports a premium rectangular design with rounded-off corners, though isn't a circular smartwatch like its fashionable rival Moto 360.

Of course, behind that pretty watch face, it's still a powerful gadget and works seamlessly with iOS 8 devices including the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Here's everything we know.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? An iOS 8-friendly watch that plays nice with your iPhone
  • When is it out? We'll find out on March 9
  • What will it cost? Starts at $349 (likely north of £223, AU$403)

Apple Watch release date

Saying something like "Hey, Siri, set a reminder for the 'Apple Watch launch' for April" is going to be a whole lot easier with simple a flick of the wrist in April 2015 - although if you can do that, you probably don't need to go and buy an Apple Watch. As you'll already have one.

April is when the Cupertino firm will release its smartwatch to the masses, winding back the digital crown on rumors that suggested March for the official Apple Watch date.

That's still right on track with the vague "early 2015" launch window Apple had previously stated and the "spring 2015" that was leaked from an internal alleged internal memo last year.

Although this Apple Watch release date news is so fresh that not even Apple's website is updated with the information, believe us, we've already blocked off the entire month to wait in line. It's happening.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch battery life

Tim Cook didn't go into great detail about the Apple Watch battery life, but he did hint that the smartwatch is designed to be "worn all day" and is "simple to charge at night."

"We think people are going to use it so much you will wind up charging it daily," Cook later reiterated at a conference in late October.

That had led us to believe that the Apple Watch battery life will be approximately one day, sort of like the Moto 360, LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live we've reviewed.

An Apple spokesperson backs up our theory, more or less confirming that the smartwatch requires a daily charge. The person also reportedly said Apple is working on modifications to eke out more battery life.

Of course, more recent Android Wear watches like the ASUS ZenWatch, Sony SmartWatch 3 and LG G Watch R actually push a day and a half, partly thanks to the Android Wear software update.

Apple Watch battery life
Easy to connect like a MagSafe power adapter

Disturbing reports about Apple Watch having as little as 2.5 hours of battery life have also surfaced, but those are just unfounded rumors and seem overblown and likely based on prototypes.

Previously, when it was known as the Apple iWatch, it was rumored to have a 400mAh battery, but Cook is saving that announcement for a later date or when we finally test it out in April.

He did, however, call attention to the unique recharging method. The Apple Watch's back crystal houses a magnetic inductive wireless charging solution similar to the MagSafe design.

Again, it looks as if Apple bucks another trend - this time it's the popular Qi wireless charging method - in favor of its own standard.

Price

We're no longer asking "when will Apple Watch come out?" Instead, we're focused on "how much will the Apple Watch cost?" There's really no precedent for a truly premium smartwatch price just yet.

The answer: More than we were hoping to pay, even though its specs may be on par with Android Wear.

That notorious Apple tax pushes the pricetag to $349 given components involved. That's £223 in the UK and AU$403 in Australia, but expect those prices to be even higher, above the straight dollar conversion.

It's true that Apple has recruited high-profile people throughout the watch and biometrics industries who have wound up on its Apple Watch team. That talent comes at a price.

Then there's a hidden cost. While a subsidized iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are cheaper upfront in the US, stores make up the difference with contract kickbacks. Not so with a smartwatch. Stores need a cut too.

Apple watch price
Apple Watch cost way more than your average fitness tracker. Are you willing to pay?

For the sake of comparison, Android Wear's cheaper initial watches included the Samsung Gear Live at $200 (£170, AU$250) and LG G Watch at $230 (£160, AU$250) at launch.

But Apple's biggest and most stylish competition is from Motorola and its Moto 360 that's priced at $249 (£199, likely AU$275 given its rivals' prices).

Apple is aiming for luxury given the sapphire glass-protected display, an imposing digital crown, two sizes and even the 18k gold colored edition. Expect prices for that version to climb even higher.

Apple Watch won't be an impulse buy for most consumers. That's why we'll continue to update this page to see whether or not the iPhone-compatible smartwatch is a fit for you. Stay tuned.

What does Apple Watch do?

Apple's first wearable gadget beams messages, Facebook updates and simplified apps to our wrists, eliminating the all-too-common need to take out our devices to constantly check notifications.

There are more than a dozen ways to interact with the watch, from receiving glanceable notifications, to feeling "taptic" feedback, to summoning Siri, according to the developer WatchKit software.

It's going to become especially convenient to pocket the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and even bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in your jeans, or to always stow the thin, but still 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 in a bag.

Is that phone call from a telemarketer not worth your time or an emergency from a loved one? Apple Watch makes mundane notifications easy to dismiss while keeping you in the loop with important alerts.

Apple Watch apps
A handful of the Apple Watch apps being demoed

The other big element for the Apple Watch is on health: the smartwatch also takes cues from the Nike FuelBand SE and other fitness trackers with health sensors and nutrition apps, a must for any serious wearable gadget these days.

The Apple Watch is designed for your everyday workout, going a pedometer step further with a custom heart rate monitor that can compete with some of the best running tech around.

Other rumours suggest the Apple Watch will also be able to help track wearers' glucose levels by displaying notifications from medical company DexCom's glucose monitors.

But while that's a sensor that connects to the watch, there's news - also from the Wall Street Journal - which suggests that Apple has had to scale back the inclusion of things like stress sensors and blood pressure readouts to augment the health app.

Other apps seen in the Apple Watch video include iMessages, Health, Calendar, Weather, Mail, Photos, Camera's shutter button, Passbook that now includes Apple Pay and even Apple Maps for navigation.

The number of apps coming is increasing all the time, even before the launch of the watch, and users can even try out the functionality of the wrist-dweller before deciding to go out and buy one.

We've rounded up the best Apple Watch apps to help you decide whether you'll want one at launch. Many will be extensions of built-in iPhone apps, but there will also be new ones.

Use the watch as a flashlight (by making the screen go white), track your pizza delivery or even browse Instagram without getting the phone out of your pocket - certainly a hassle of some more than others.

All of these Apple Watch apps and settings can be organized within a single iPhone companion app for the smartwatch, according to newly leaked iOS 8.2 beta details.

Apple Watch heart rate monitor
Apps are sure to make use of the heart-rate monitor in back

Developers are now readying more Apple Watch apps thanks to the WatchKit SDK launch. They're being given a headstart with the software and it could bring a whole new section to the iTunes App Store.