Apple has finally revealed the launch date for its highly anticipated smartwatch the Apple Watch at the ‘Spring Forward’ event: Apple Watch will go on sale from April 24 in 9 countries, with prices starting from $349. It will be available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and US, and pre-orders will begin from April 10. The smartwatch will be available in two sizes – 42mm and 38 mm – and three versions – Apple Watch Sport ($349-399), Apple Watch ($549-1099) and the custom Apple Watch Edition (starting at $10,000).
Apple mentioned that calls can be made and received via an iPhone on the Apple Watch, which is the tech giant’s first original product since the iPad in 2010, and claimed that it will deliver up to 18 hours of battery life. Wearers will also be able to send messages and view e-mail. The company has also released a number of apps for the Apple Watch including, the ususal ones such as Instagram, OpenTable, Nike+ Running, Shazam, Twitter, and WeChat among others, as well as some useful apps like one for booking an Uber cab, flight check-in app for American Airlines, etc. It’s worth noting that Apple had introduced WatchKit in September last year that provided tools and APIs for developers to extend their apps to Apple Watch.
The smartwatch is also equipped with an accelerometer and heart rate sensor, which combined with Wi-Fi connectivity and GPS tracking via an iPhone will allow the wearer to track their activity throughout the day. Apple Watch was expected to feature two dedicated fitness related apps: Activity app and Workout app. Activity app measures the movement, exercise, and how often you stand up during the day while Workout app can measure calories, time, and distance in real-time. One can also set goals and track specific workouts, such as running, walking, and cycling.
Note that the Apple Watch is only compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus running on iOS 8.2 or above (more on this below).
Apple TV-HBO Now tie-up: Apple TV will be the exclusive provider of the HBO Now streaming service for three months after launch. HBO Now is expected to launch in early April and is priced at $14.99 per month. Subscribers using Apple devices, including Apple TV, iPhone and iPad will get the first month free. Apple TV’s price has also been reduced to $69 from $99. Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed during the event that 25 million Apple Tvs have been sold so far.
Apple Pay accepted at 700k retail locations: Apple has claimed that its TouchID & NFC-enabled mobile wallet service currently has tie-ups with over 2500 banks and is accepted at 700,000 retail locations. Apple had launched Apple Pay in September last year. At the time, the service supported credit and debit cards from three major payment networks Amex, MasterCard, and Visa issued by six US banks including Bank of America, Capital One Bank, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo that apparently represented 83% of the credit card purchase volume in the country. More here.
Competitors are taking a serious note of Apple Pay’s rise and seem to be gearing up for a big push. Last month, Google inked a deal with Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T that would see its wallet service being pre-installed on all Android phones sold in Us by the three carriers. Google had also acquired the mobile payments app Softcard from the three carriers. Samsung also acquired Boston-based mobile wallet solutions provider LoopPay, in February. LoopPay currently claims that 10 million merchants use its platform.
ResearchKit: Apple has announced a software framework for medical research called ResearchKit, which will allow researchers to procure data directly from iPhones, turning it into a diagnostic tool of sorts. Users will complete control over the data they choose to share and Apple will not have access to it. Apple mentioned that ResearchKit will be an open source project, allowing collaboration between universities and research institutions.
iOS 8.2: The updated version of iOS is now available for download. The new version includes the Apple Watch app so that users can sync the smartwatch with the phone.
700 million iPhones sold: Apple has sold over 700 million iPhones since its launch in 2007. Cook claimed that iPhone sales registered a 49% year-over-year increase, which he claimed was double the growth registered by all other players in market. Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the quarter ended December 31 2014, registering a 46.1% growth from 51 million in the same quarter. Revenues from this segment also grew by 57% to $51.2 billion, from $32.5 billion in the same quarter last year.
Redesigned MacBook: The new MacBook is lighter and thinner than its predecessor. It also features 12-inch retina display with resolution of 2304×1440. The MacBook also features a new keyboard and a haptic-engine enabled trackpad, which will apparently improve the usability factor of the laptop. The new MacBooks are expected to start shipping on April and will be priced at $1299.