9 March 2015

Apple Watch clocks in at $349.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has revealed details of the highly anticipated Apple Watch, including the price and release date.

The tech giant's first wearable device will go on sale on 24th April with a starting price of $349 (around £230).  There will also be an 18 carat gold version priced at $10,000 with more limited availability.

"Everything about Apple Watch has been very carefully considered," said Cook unveiling the three different watch collections, made from different materials and for sale at different price points.

-- The Apple Watch Sport is made from anodised aluminium in either silver or space grey and is 60 per cent stronger than standard alloys, the company said.  The 38mm Sport is priced at $349, or for the 42mm, at $399.

-- The Apple Watch Collection comes in stainless steel in a traditional or space black finish and comes with a range of strap choices.  Prices for this model start at $549 and go up to $1099. It also comes in 38mm and 42mm sizes.

-- The Apple Watch Edition, made in 18 carat white or rose gold, will be priced at a starting point of $10,000 and be made available only at selected retail stores.

Pre-orders will begin on 10th April and fans will be able to see and try the watches in Apple retail stores, with sales beginning 24th April in a number of countries, including the UK.  In addition to Apple stores, the watch range will be available to see at Selfridges in London from 10th April and for sale from 24th April at a number of department stores and boutiques, including Dover Street Market in the capital.

Apple's move into the wearable market has analysts predicting sales of anywhere between 8m and 42m this year.

The firm also announced a new MacBook, a price cut to its Apple TV and a partnership to offer HBO Go on the platform, as well as a new medical research developer kit called Research Kit.

Building on its HealthKit app, Apple is partnering with a number of universities and hospitals to collect and share data on medical conditions such as Parkinsonís and Asthma with the aim of treating the conditions through the ResearchKit, which will be completely open source.

The range of smartwatches have an 18-hour battery life which Apple said will last all day.  Discussing the features of the smartwatch on stage, Cook said the Apple Watch will receive the same notifications as the iPhone, and users can answer calls and reply to email on the device.  Apple's voice activated helper Siri also works on the watch.

A swipe of the watch will pay for items at till points which have contactless payment enabled, much like swiping and oyster card, thanks to the integration of Apple Pay mobile payment technology.  A host of apps made by third parties were demonstrated on stage by Apple's vice president of technology Kevin Lynch, including apps from Uber, Instagram, CNN, Starwood Hotels and Shazam.

Other features created by Apple include an app which lets users go through customs with just an electronic boarding pass showing on the watch via Passbook.  Apps for the watch need to be downloaded from the iPhone and settings for notifications also need to be made through the phone.

The watch will also go on sale in eight other countries outside the UK initially - Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, as well as its home market of the US.

<< Lynsey Barber  9th March 2015  CityAM >>

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