Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils Watch

New smartwatch going on sale in April is Apple’s first move into wearables market

Apple has unveiled details of its long awaited smartwatch, with the device going on sale on April 24th.

The company's chief executive Tim Cook took to the stage at its "Spring Forward" event to fill in some of the blanks that have existed since Apple revealed the Watch's existence in September last year. The company also announced a new Macbook and a framework for the iPhone designed to aid medical research.

The Apple Watch is the Cupertino-based company’s first move into the wearables market. Designed to work with the iPhone, the watch comes with a touch sensitive screen, displays notifications from your phone and tracks activity. Instead of the “pinch to zoom” feature, the watch uses a digital crown to scroll, zoom and return to the home screen.

That included important details such as battery life, which Apple says will last 18 hours for most users.


Users can access Apple’s digital assistant Siri directly from the watch, using just your voice, and receive notifications from social networks or follow news as it happens.

Other applications, such as Passbook, will also work with the watch, bringing boarding cards and other important documents to your wrist automatically; the SPG app will turn the watch into a room key. The device will also allow users to share doodles and send their heartbeats to other Watch owners.

“Apple Watch can be an incredibly rich and integral part of your life,” Mr Cook said, before unveiling its compatibility with Apple Pay, the company’s contactless payments system.

The Apple Watch will start at $349 for the Watch Sport, with an extra $50 for the 42mm version; Apple Watch costing from $549 up to $1049 depending on the choice of band material; and the limited Watch Edition costing $10,000. Pre-orders for the device will begin on April 10th.

The focus may have been on Apple Watch, but it was Apple’s move to turn the iPhone into a diagnostic tool for medical applications that took people by surprise. ResearchKit will allow patients to submit data for medical studies, but Apple assured users that the data would be kept private and would not be visible to the company.

Due for release next month, ResearchKit is open source. The company showed off five apps it has already created to gather data on diabetes, Parkinson’s, asthma, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“Apple has always believed that amazing things can happen when you put technology in the hand of the many,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations said. “We can’t wait to see what [the community does] with it.”

Also on display was the company’s thinnest Macbook to date. “We challenged ourselves to reinvent the notebook, and we did it,” Mr Cook said. The Macbook also cuts down the number of available ports to one, which is the new USB-C standard and covers everything from video to power.

Apple also revealed it had sold 25 million Apple TV units to date, before announcing a launch partnership with US TV channel HBO for its new HBO Now streaming service.

“Apple TV has become the category leader,” Mr Cook said.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist