It’s about time.
After months of speculation surrounding its foray into the wearables realm, Apple unveiled today its Apple Watch -- marking the company’s first new product category launch under the stewardship of Steve Jobs successor Tim Cook.
Cook called the Apple Watch -- not the iWatch, as it had long been rumored the device would be called -- “the most personal product we’ve ever made.”
Samsung, LG, Motorola and other tech giants have all introduced watches of their own to a somewhat lukewarm response in recent years, but the Apple Watch -- given the company’s unique ubiquity -- holds potential for widespread adoption of the wearables category.
It will be available in two different sizes with three options for faces -- the stainless steel Apple Watch, the anodized aluminum Apple Watch Sport and the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition. Customers can also choose from six different kinds of straps.
Priced at $349, the Apple Watch is compatible with 5th generation iPhones and beyond.
Despite the long road leading up to the announcement, eager Apple fans will have to wait longer yet for the device, which Cook said will arrive early next year.
Of note is that the Apple Watch charges wirelessly, via a magnet that latches onto its back. In addition, rather than merely interacting with the watch face by touching it, the new interface can be controlled via a multi-functional side dial that Cook called a “digital crown,” which takes users ‘home’ and activates Siri.
Apple Watch will also boast Fitness and Workout apps, said Cook, that will enable users to monitor their daily activity as well as set broader exercise goals.
And in addition to telling time, users can also use Apple Watch to respond to messages, read stock information and communicate with friends by sending sketches, audio messages and even recordings of one’s own heartbeat.
Apple Watch is also compatible with the company’s brand new mobile payment system, Apple Pay, which was also unveiled today.