The Apple product unveiling six months in the making finally came to fruition Monday morning as the tech giant gave the public an extended look at the Apple Watch along with an official release date.
CEO Tim Cook confirmed Monday that the Apple Watch will be available for purchase on April 24, with pre-orders starting April 10, at a price range that starts between $349 and $399 for the base model of the aluminum Apple Watch Sport. The Watch collection, which comes in stainless steel, costs between $549 and $1099, depending on the size of the watch-face. And, a luxury version, called Apple Watch Edition, will start at $10,000 and is 18k solid gold.
“I have been wanting to do this since I was five years old,” said Cook, who called the device revolutionary. He also laid out other product successes and launched a new MacBook notebook computer that starts at $1,299 and weighs as little as 2 pounds.
Apple (AAPL) first announced the new smartwatch at an event last September that also heralded the release of the latest iPhones and the company’s mobile payments platform, Apple Pay.
On Monday, Cook showed off the highly-anticipated smartwatch in front of a crowd of tech reporters and bloggers in San Francisco at Apple’s “Spring Forward” event, which was live-streamed over the Internet. “The Apple Watch is the most personal device we’ve ever created,” Cook told the audience on Monday. “It’s not just on you, it’s with you.”
The smartwatch has a customizable face (including a Walt Disney Co. (DIS) tie-in with a Mickey Mouse feature) and it comes with a battery life of about 18 hours over a normal day.
Apple followers already knew that the Apple Watch would offer e-mail and messaging capabilities, as well as phone calls, news notifications and health monitoring features. Those health features include a heart-rate monitor as well as alerts that notify the wearer when they have been sitting for too long. The smartwatch will also work with Apple Pay and it will also sync with all iPhone notifications.
The Apple Watch communicates with a user’s iPhone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which means that it can operate with an iPhone at any distance as long as they are on the same wireless network — otherwise, the smartwatch will need to be in Bluetooth-range of an iPhone to have full capability. Another feature, called Digitial Touch, links Apple Watch users, allowing them to send drawings or notifications to other Apple Watches.
Prior to Monday’s event, it was reported that Apple had already been partnering with companies such as Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and BMW to develop apps for the Apple Watch. Cook said that iOS 8.2, which will be available starting today, will feature a specific Apple Watch app and a store for apps made for the smartwatch.
The Apple Watch will not be the first smartwatch to hit the market, but Apple has made a point of highlighting the features expected to set its own product apart from the competition. Among them is the Apple Watch’s dial, or digital crown, which can be turned to navigate the watch’s screen and to zoom in and out. Users can also push down the digital crown to activate Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant program.
Apple’s product event included Apple’s unveiling of a new MacBook with Retina display that is the lightest and thinnest notebook ever sold by the company. Apple also announced that it will exclusively partner with HBO on its pending standalone streaming service, HBO Now, when it launches next month.
—Reuters contributed to this report.