Apple Watch release date, news and features

Fabled iWatch or iPhone Watch specs, price and apps

Apple Watch release date news and rumours

Apple Watch is at long last coming this year - you can set your friends' inferior Android Wear watches on 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 chic wearables over geeky tech.

Matching Apple's drive for style, this iPhone-compatible watch sports a premium rectangular design. It has 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? Spring 2015 release date, rumored to be March
What will it cost? Starts at $349 (likely north of £223, AU$403)

Apple Watch release date

Unlike many of its products which go one sale on the day of announcement, or during the week following an official launch, Apple was less clear on the Apple Watch release date.

Tim Cook told us the wearable would arrive in "early 2015", while the Apple site simply states "Available in 2015." This has lead to much speculation as to exactly when the Cupertino firm will release its smartwatch on the masses.

Valentine's Day (that's February 14, forgetful people) was initially rumored as a potential date, although the latest reports suggest March as the time when the Apple Watch will hit stores.

Beyond that speculation, the closest official Apple Watch release date comes from remarks attributed to an Apple executive who gave it a later and less precise spring 2015 window.

"We're going into the holidays, we'll go into Chinese New Year, and then we've got a new watch launch coming in the spring," read an alleged internal memo by Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Arendts.

Apple Watch

Price

An even trickier question than "when will it come out?" has been "how much will the Apple Watch cost?" There's really no precedent for a 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 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 the Moto 360 price is $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 newly released 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 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 on life's most important alerts.

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

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 in a bid to help you decide whether you'll want one at launch - while many will be extensions of the inbuilt iPhone apps, there will also be new ones to use the watch as a flashlight (making the screen go white) track your pizza or even browse Instagram without getting the phone out of your pocket.

Because, as we all know, that was becoming a right hassle.

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

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.

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.

Sure there are fitness apps on your smartphone, but you're not always carrying your iPhone while tracking your steps and activity. The Apple Watch is better suited for your everyday workout.