Apple Watch release date, news and features

Fabled iWatch or iPhone Watch launches in April

Apple Watch faces

Apple is promising customizable watch faces with "millions of different appearances." It brings everything to its timepieces, from time lapse backgrounds to classic Mickey Mouse arms as dials.

The first six Apple watch faces
The first six Apple watch faces

However, just to be clear, the smartwatch comes with a base of 11 watch faces, according to the official Apple Watch press release. Most allow you to change the colors, design elements and add functionality.

The Apple Watch face gallery shows off an Astronomy design with an interactive, real-time 3D model of the earth, moon and planets. Likewise, the Solar acts as a contemporary sundial.

Apple watch face images
I can finally get myself the Mickey Mouse watch I always wanted when I was six

If you want a moving background, there's the Motion watch face, or a still image, there's the Photo face. Utility, Chronograph, Color, Modular and Simple exhibit more contemporary designs.

Apple Watch has a number of competitors that run on Android Wear, and since their upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop, you can now download a large range of watch faces there already.

Android Wear

Google seeded Watch Face API to developers and a number of striking designs are already available to download. We're guessing that Google will be a bit more relaxed about custom watch faces vs Apple.

This could mean that we'll see the usual quality versus quantity debate when it comes to comparing watch faces on Apple Watch and Android Wear devices.

By the time the Apple Watch launches in April, there will be a variety of faces already available for Android Wear, so Apple might have a fight on its hands when it comes to watch face customization.

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 eek 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. A lot of it depends on use time and battery size.

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.

Compatibility

Apple Watch compatibility follows the company's strict iPhone 5 or later policy that's reflective of its recent Apple CarPlay initiative. It's lightning or nothing.

Even though the battery-saving Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology made its debut in the iPhone 4S, it's time for an upgrade. It may also be time to find space to step up to iOS 8.

Just don't expect any Android phone, new or old, to work with the Apple Watch. Android Wear can't connect to Apple's devices, and we don't expect Apple to return the favor.

The competition

We plan to strap the Apple Watch to our non-dominant wrist, but its got a lot of competition to stay buckled in due to all of the Android Wear and Samsung smartwatches.

In fact, by April, there may be even more Apple Watch competitors at Mobile World Congress. MWC 2015 is where the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 are expected to launch.

Both smartphones may bring about companion smartwatches with HTC tipped to enter the foray with its own wearable and Samsung always eager to add another dozen watches to its collection.

LG G Watch R

LG G Watch R

The LG G Watch R is one such competitor which could give Apple a run for its money. Unlike the Apple Watch (and many other smartwatches) the LG G Watch R comes with an attractive round face that gives it a classy, traditional look.

The screen also looks gorgeous thanks to the P-OLED technology, and on the back of the watch is a heart rate monitor for health apps.

Unlike the Apple Watch the LG G Watch R only comes in one size so if you're not a fan of the design then there's little you can do about it.

At $299 (£220, AU$280), the LG G Watch R is one of the more expensive smartwatches on the market, and is around Apple Watch price. By April, however, LG may give it a price cut.

Moto 360

Moto 360

The Moto 360 is another stylish smartwatch with a circular design, and it's one of the best wearables on the market today. Although the LCD screen won't be quite as accomplished as the Apple Watch's display, we feel the round design gives the Moto 360 the edge in the looks department.

It's also around $100 cheaper than the lowest priced Apple Watch will be, and again there's a good chance that it will get even cheaper by the time the Apple Watch makes it way into the world.

The Apple Watch beats the Moto 360 in customization options with the large variety of bands that will be available. Both the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 also allow you to change the style of the watch face, with the recent update to Android 5.0 Lollipop allowing a huge range of new designs to be available to Moto 360.

TechRadar is going to keep updating this feature explainer leading up to the release date and cost reveal that goes beyond the vague April and "starting at" $349 (£223, AU$403) price.