Apple Watch (iWatch) release date, features and price: when does the Apple Watch go on sale in the UK?

15 Dec 2014

The latest news about the Apple Watch (iWatch) release date, UK price, and several interesting new features.

Few people were surprised when Tim Cook launched the Apple Watch (rumoured to be called the iWatch) on 9 September 2014. What was surprising was how long people had to wait for the Apple Watch’s release date (see below).

Despite the Apple smartwatch having an on sale date long into the future, quite a lot of information about the device’s features and functionality was revealed at the launch event. Apple has since released an official SDK for developers to start designing Apple Watch apps, revealing yet more information about what we can expect from the Apple Watch.

In this Apple Watch release date, features and price round-up we’ll be exploring the following:

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Apple Watch release date, UK price and features: main

Apple Watch latest news

Apple Watch mass production back on schedule

(15/12/14) A report from Taiwan’s United Daily News claims recent issues surrounding the production of the Apple Watch’s display and processor have been fixed. Meaning the smartwatch is still set for the early 2015 launch as previously confirmed by Apple.

Getting to the bottom of the rumour is a little complicated, but can be traced back to reports from October that stated production for the Apple Watch would begin in January. Since then Rosenblatt Securities analyst, Brian Blair, said the manufacturing process had run into issues and it would ship a much lower number of units than initially expected.

According to G for Games, Quanta - the company building the watch - has recently increased its employees from 2,000 to 10,000, in order to hit Apples initial target of 3 to 5 million watches. Apple wants a total of 20 to 24 million units shipped in 2015.

Apple watch release date UK news

Apple hiring fashion and luxury retail staff for stores

(12/12/14) 9to5Mac.com claims to have recieved internal documents that indicate Apple is hiring staff with a “fashion or luxury background”.

The news itself isn’t entirely surprising given that current blue t-shirt wearing Apple Store employees aren’t exactly qualified to give fashion advice.

Hiring industry professionals is a good move from Apple. The company has already revealed the device will be available in a large number of different styles and specs, with the most expensive potentially costing thousands of pounds. In order for Apple to keep customer satisfaction, these professionals will help ensure people are getting a smartwatch that is right for them in the looks and technology department.

Will the Apple Watch flop?

Predicting the future is tricky in the world of tech. Products that get the industry excited are not necessarily what gets the public excited. Yet, the question of whether the Apple Watch will flop or not is still a hot topic of debate.

If you are to listen to Apple’s former CEO John Sculley’s opinion in a recent interview with Forbes magazine, then you would be led to believe Apple watch won't be a success and Apple in fact have nothing in the pipeline that will be. He said "The question is: is there anything on the horizon … I'm not convinced yet that the Apple Watch is one of those items. Maybe I'll be wrong. But it isn't clear to me that it's as big a deal as an iPhone, or an iPad, or an iPod."

Sculley’s opinion is directly contradicted from the research carried out by UBS analyst Steve Milunovich, who claims Apple will sell roughly 24 million Apple Watches in fiscal 2015.

Milunovich draws on data from his survey in which 1,864 smartphone owners took part in. One in ten of the respondents from UK, US, China and Italy said they were “very likely” to buy a smartwatch in the next year.

The article that reports on the research goes on to state that Morgan Stanley analyst, Katy Hubery, claims that 10% of the 315 million iPhones that are compatible with the Apple Watch, would result in about 30 million Apple Watch sales in 2015.

Order your coffee with Apple Watch?

Smartwatches as a technology are in their infancy, as such they are lacking in original and exciting apps. Thankfully for third parties, the release of the Apple Watch’s SDK a couple of months ago has given developers a chance to build useful apps.

One concept that has made the headlines is the Starbucks Apple Watch app designed by Pek Pongpaet as part of Captial One’s WatchKit Hackathon.

App designer Pongpeat said this about his software: "Our concept was to re-envision how Apple Watch could enhance the Starbucks customer experience by providing an even better way to order rather than standing in a long line. Wouldn't it be cool if I could just go grab a table, order one of my usual drinks, pay for it using Apple Pay or my Starbucks card and get notified when my drink is ready – all from my phone without leaving the comfort of my seat?"

Unfortunately it will be sometime until this feature is technologically viable in the UK as there’s been no date announced for when/if Apple Pay will arrive.

Apple watch feautres starbucks app

Source: Cult of Mac.

Apple Watch SDK reveals three types of apps

(19/11/14): There are three possible ways that apps can work on the Apple Watch: WatchKit Apps, which can be launched from the device's home screen and have a full, interactive user interface running; Glances, which show "at-a-glance" read-only information; or Actionable Notifications, which notify the wearer of an event and allows them to act on the information from the watch immediately or later.

Apple Watch SDK reveals three types of apps

Apple Watch release date

Apple has been slow to join the wearables race, with rival manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony, LG and Motorola already having launched their smartwatches. However, if the launch event's keynote was anything to go by, it looks as if they have all been trumped by the Apple Watch. 

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch didn't launch alongside iPhone 6 family; instead, Apple is promising a release date of "early 2015".

More specific information about the on-sale date was not given, however we would note that it is rare for Apple to release a product in January, just missing the Holiday season. A February, or even March, release date for the Apple Watch is much more likely.

Update: As PC Pro understands, Apple has since run into a few production issues and spring 2015 is thought to be a more realistic Apple Watch release date.

Apple Watch release date

Apple watch price

There hasn't been a UK price confirmed for the Apple Watch yet, either. Based on previous Apple US-to-UK price conversions, expect the US price of $349 (£216) to translate to something between £249 and £299.

Apple Watch: design

Apple thinks it has the key to people’s wrists, by recognising there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all device for smartwatches. With this in mind, the company has made it possible to tailor the Apple Watch to suit your style and needs.

First, there are two different sizes on offer, with the smallest Apple Watch measuring 38mm in height and the tallest, 42mm. The watch housing itself is available in six different finishes: stainless steel, aluminium, 18-carat yellow gold, space black stainless steel, space gray aluminum and 18-carat rose gold.

Apple Watch release date: design

Apple Watch straps

There are six different watch straps to choose from as well, ensuring even the most fussy watch afficionados have plenty of options to choose from.

Apple Watch release date: straps

Apple Watch faces

Apple claims there are millions of ways you can customise your the watch face too, but this isn't strictly true. Currently, Apple is showing off 11 different designs. It justifies its claim by stating that you can choose the colours, design elements and on-screen widgets for every watch face.

Credit has to be given to the style sophistication of most of the 11 designs detailed so far, though, with the Solar, Chronograph, Astronomy and Utility watches rivalling the best we have seen from existing smartwatches.

Apple Watch release date: faces

Apple Watch design: early verdict

PC Pro is impressed with the overall physical design of the Apple watch, with the straps available being particularly pleasing, however we do feel the watch is a little on the chunky side. If there is one thing Apple like to do with second, third and fourth generations on its products it's make them slimmer, so we expect this to change in the future.

Apple Watch features

The Apple Watch has the specifications to match its looks. The curved Retina display features Force Touch, a technology that is able to determine the difference between a strong press and a light tap and react accordingly. This could be used for opening specific functions from the start screen, eliminating the need to cycle through apps.

Where the device really stands out from the competition is with its Digital Crown input, which is unique to the Apple Watch. The best way to think of it is as a traditional wind-up watch dial that lets you control your smartwatch in a similar way to the original iPod - by wheeling through the onscreen options.

Apple Watch release date, uk price and features: digital crown

Apple hasn't reused any of its existing chips for the Apple Watch, instead developing the new S1 chip specifically for it; the Californian technology giant claims this has the entire architecture of a computer on a single chip.

On the rear of the watch Apple has designed a sensor that uses infrared and visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to detect your heart rate. To accompany it, Apple has designed software to track your every movement, including steps, stairs climbed (using an accelerometer sensor), time spent sitting or standing, running and cycling, and it will update you with live analytics so you're aware of how close you are to your daily goals.

Apple Watch release date, UK price and features: sensor

The Apple Watch has a comprehensive notification centre, too, and one that far outperforms Android Wear currently. It even rivals - if not betters - that of the Tizen OS on the Samsung Gear S. One feature we were particularly impressed with was the Apple Watch's ability to offers you quick reply options based on questions in your incoming message.

A final feature of note is the combination of GPS signal, Apple Maps and the onboard "taptic engine". Apple demonstrated these features working together to provide you with turn-by-turn navigation using vibration alerts to let you know whether you need to turn left or right.

Apple Watch release date, uk price and features: maps

Apple Watch communication

There are obvious limitations when it comes to sending messages via a smartwatch screen given the small surface area on offer. To combat this Apple has designed four new ways for you to interact with fellow Apple Watch owners in a very minimalist way.

The most simple idea is one similar to the concept behind the Yo app: all it does is send a contact a notification to let them know you're thinking of them. Apple goes one step further than Yo by allowing you to customise your tap patterns.

There is also a two-way Walkie-Talkie feature and a Sketch function that lets you draw pictures and share them with friends. The final messaging feature allows you to use the watch’s sensors to send your heart beat to a contact, the receiving Apple Watch will then see a heart beating in time with yours on their display.

Apple Watch Health

One of the most interesting features of the Apple Watch is Active App, which provides a clever graph of all your daily activity. The app consists of three rings that represent how close you are to fulfilling your daily goals; these are broken down into three categories: Move, Exercise and Stand.

Move is essentially a calorie calculator. Needless to say, if you want you Apple Watch to help you lose weight, simply increase the number of target calories to burn in a day.

Exercise measures daily activity performed at the level of "a brisk walk or above" and the target is set at 30 minutes a day. The final ring is Stand, and measures how long you spend standing up each day; to complete the circle you need to stand for one minute every hour for 12 hours a day.

Is the Apple Watch water proof?

Is the Apple Watch water proof?

During the live Apple Watch keynote, speakers, including Tim Cook and Jony Ive, were careful to dance around the smartwatch's water resistance, with no mention of IP ratings or even splash proof coatings in the announcement, although it has been reported that you'll be able to wear it in the rain and wash your hands with it on, but not go for a swim or have a shower.

That's a little worrying, since it suggests the Apple Watch will have minimal protection from the elements. For a watch costing this much, we'd have hoped for better.

Apple Watch official video

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