Apple Watch release date, news and features

Apple Watch confirmed for April launch

Apple Watch design

The final Apple Watch design isn't too far from the made-up renders that we saw ahead of the official announcement. It draws inspiration from iPod Nano with a rectangular-shaped screen plus one knob and a single button.

The Apple Watch is more than "iPod Nano meets the iPhone," though. The smartwatch display comes in two sizes measured by height: 38mm (1.5in) and 42mm (1.65in). Both are slightly smaller than the entire Pebble Steel watch height, which measures 46mm (1.8in).

Apple Watch screen resolution
Apple Watch comes in two sizes and two screen resolutions

We also now know the resolution of each screen. The 38mm Apple Watch will have a resolution of 272 x 340, while a 42mm version will have a 312 x 390 display.

Apple has only revealed the height of its new smartwatch screen, so we can't properly calculate the pixels per inch, and anyone who does is just guessing. But it'll likely rival the 300ppi of the Samsung Gear S.

Apple Watch design
Here's the Apple Watch design from all angles

The Apple Watch's screen is surrounded by casing made of custom of stainless steel, aluminum, or gold that, according to the company, stand up to the physical demands of daily wear.

Beyond the "Apple Watch" and "Apple Watch Sport" versions, a special "Apple Watch Edition" mixes in 18-karat yellow or rose gold for a premium look. It certainly goes well with that gold iPhone 6.

Apple Watch collections
Three Apple Watch 'collections,' each with two sizes

That brings the metal colors to six: stainless steel, silver aluminum, space black stainless steel, space gray aluminum, 18-karat yellow gold and 18-karat rose gold.

A total of 34 Apple Watch design choices is going to complicate the lives of early adopters on launch day. But the official prices are likely to help narrow that decision come April.

Apple Watch digital crown

The Apple Watch doesn't have a round display like the Moto 360, but the casing does feature a circular knob known as the "digital crown."

This input is unique among smartwatches, but a true classic derived from traditional watches. Apple has of course put a modern-day twist on its functionality.

Apple digital crown
Apple invents a new control scheme using a classic input

The Apple Watch digital crown replaces the pinch-to-zoom touchscreen mechanic used on everything from iPhones to MacBooks, which is too impractical on such a small display, according to Apple.

Rotating it allows you to zoom into your app selection, your location on Apple Maps and a photo from a gallery. Scrolling through dates and stopwatch times is handled by this knob too.

The digital crown also acts as the Apple Watch home button. There's no Touch ID sensor here, but Apple Watch is smartly tied to your wristwatch with an anti-theft passcode required whenever it's taken off.

Apple Watch conversation button

The button below the digital crown allows you to start a conversation with friends. Pushing it brings up a their contact info photos and zooming into a specific person with the digital crown gets things started.

Beyond calling and messaging Apple Watch wearing friends, you can get their attention with a gentle tap. It vibrates the "taptic" feedback on their smartwatch.

Apple taptic conversation
Communicate with simple vibrating taps or sketches

What's intriguing about this taptic feedback system is that it's said to be more precise and subtle than a vibration everyone can hear. Want to ditch a party? Your friends' secret sign may be three taps on the Apple Watch before bailing. It's an interesting way to get someone's attention.

The Apple Watch goes all Drawesome on us with a bizarre sketch function for light messaging on the wrist. Snapchat became big, why not Swipechat? You can also share your heartbeat with someone in real time, though we're not sure why you would want to.

Apple Watch bands

The variety of Apple Watch bands played better than U2 at the press conference, giving consumers a way to personalize their smartwatch.

Standard straps include Leather Loop that conceals magnets for easy fastening, the leather Modern Buckle and the leather Classic Buckle. There's also a gym-friendly elastomer Sport Band.

Apple Watch straps
Apple Watch straps are easy to swap out

Higher-end metal straps include the Milanese Loop with flexible magnetic stainless steel mesh and the stainless steel Link Bracelet.

The ability to swap the straps without having to use tooling or visit or jeweler is one of our favorite features in the Apple Watch vs Moto 360 comparison.