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What you need to know about the new Apple Watch

Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch
Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch
The Verge

Apple unveiled its first smartwatch on Tuesday. The move was hotly anticipated, as Apple enters a competitive and rapidly expanding market. The new watches will be available starting in early 2015, starting at $349. Here's everything else you need to know about the new Apple Watch.

1) It's sleek

There's a reason Apple invited fashion bloggers to the event today. The Apple Watch is clearly more than just a wrist computer that does nifty high-tech things; it's meant to be pretty. CEO Tim Cook told the audience Tuesday that Apple thought hard about the watch's look, not just its capabilities. A video of the Apple Watch showed a variety of shots that could have come from a fashion magazine.

It was clearly also made to look like a watch, with a knob on the side and a small face — a departure from some of its bulkier competitors.

But it's not just about how the hardware looks; it's about the software. Apple created an interface that allows you to use the watch without having to try to manipulate a touchscreen with your (comparatively huge) fingers. As Tim Cook said at the event, "pinch-to-zoom" wouldn't make much sense on a screen that's so small. The crown on the side looks like it was meant to wind a watch's gears, but it instead is used to navigate: to zoom, for example, and scroll up and down. However, it is still a touchscreen, allowing you to swipe or scroll with your fingers.

2) There are lots of choices


The Apple Watch comes in three editions: the regular Watch, Watch Edition (made from 18k gold), and Watch Sport (made to be "light and durable"). It also has two face sizes — 1.5 and 1.65 inches, according to the Verge. Though not explicitly announced as a men's and women's watch, those sizes in that way also mimic the non-smart watches many people are used to.

In addition, the range of strap choices allow the watch to vary in its look, from sporty to dressy. And a variety of watch faces will also make the watch infinitely customizable.

3) You need an iPhone to use it.

As is standard with smartwatches, the Apple Watch doesn't do much without a smartphone. And this being Apple, the Apple Watch will only work with the iPhone. At the very least, you might not need a new iPhone to use it; it will work with iPhone 6 but also iPhone 5 models.

4) New ways to communicate


Have you ever wanted to send your heartbeat to someone? No? Well, you can now — you can share your heartbeat as tracked on the Apple Watch to another watch-wearer.

But that's not all. The new "digital touch" system allows you to draw small pictures to send to friends; during the presentation, Apple's Kevin Lynch sent a drawing of a fish to a friend to ask him if he wanted to get sushi for lunch. It also has walkie-talkie capabilities, allowing a person to communicate with another watch-wearer. The watch also includes its own system of animated emojis.

5) It wants to make you healthier

Apple is billing its watch as a "comprehensive health and fitness device." Not only will it count your steps and track your heartbeat; it counts your calories burned, how much activity you've done all day, even whether you've stood up recently. The watch is also designed to "learn" about the wearer, suggesting fitness goals. All of this works in concert with the fitness app on the iPhone to allow you to keep track of your longer-term fitness progress.

6) You can pay with it

All of the Apple Pay functionality that Apple unveiled on Tuesday will be available on the Apple Watch. So instead of tapping your phone to pay for your groceries, you could also just tap your wrist.

7) It will run outside apps

In addition to giving you text notifications and updating your fitness achievements on your iPhone, the Watch will also perform other functions, thanks to Apple collaborations with other companies. It will show Facebook updates and baseball scores, as well as where you left your car (assuming that car is a BMW). Starwood Hotels has also worked with Apple to create an app that will allow the watch to unlock a hotel room door.

8) We know how it will charge (but not how long it will stay charged)

One of the features Apple touted on Tuesday is the watch's inductive charging system. Users will be able to charge an Apple Watch by connecting a cord magnetically to the back of the watch body.

But notably absent was any mention of how often you'll have to juice up your watch. Battery life has been a big issue among the smartwatches on the market. According to the Verge, the charges among the smartwatches on the market have ranged from a few hours to a week long. However, the longer-lasting ones have been more rudimentary than the Apple Watch: black-and-white displays that aren't touchscreens, for example.

A glance at the newest competitors shows what the Apple Watch will be up against when it comes out in early 2015. Sony's latest offering, the SmartWatch 3, can last two days on one charge, according to the Guardian. Meanwhile, Motorola's Moto 360, was lambasted upon its release for its disappointingly short battery life. Gizmodo found that it lasts "24 hours plus."

9) Users will learn a new language of watch vibrations

Consider it the Apple Watch's own system of Morse Code. The watch will do turn-by-turn directions, but instead of making you listen to Siri's voice or stare at your watch screen to know where to go, it will simply tell you by feel. One type of vibration will let you know it's time to turn left. Another will tell you it's time to turn right.

10) You can talk to it

The watch will work with Siri, the voice-controlled program already available on some iPhones. Pushing the crown will activate Siri, allowing a user to ask about the weather or find nearby businesses.

11) It tells time

In addition to all of the other high-tech functions, the watch's timekeeping is advanced in its own right. Cook bragged to his audience on Tuesday that the timepiece will be accurate within 50 milliseconds.

One reason Apple's iPhone announcements dominate the news