Apple unveils 'breakthrough' Watch wearable, aimed at fitness market

Apple finally unveiled what we've all been waiting for: a wearable designed with fitness in mind.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Image: CNET/CBS Interactive

At today's event close to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, the tech giant revealed its brand new wearable.

The iPad and iPhone maker's new gadget is the first new product since the iPad's launch in 2010, and the first since Tim Cook took over as chief executive from late co-founder Steve Jobs. 

Apple is marketing the wrist-wearable as a “customizable” time-piece, which can be used to connect and communicate, as well as track fitness. 

Also see: CNET: Apple Watch Preview | Special Report: Wearables: Fit for Business? | TechPro Research: Wearable deployment plans, anticipated benefits and adoption roadblocks | CNET live coverage | Five ways Apple's iPhone 6, iWatch launches may transform its business model 

Apart from saying the wearable device is heavily customisable -- one that matches your own "style and taste," according to Apple CEO Tim Cook -- the model has a round-edged exterior and comes equipped with a stainless steel, magnetised strap, as well as a sapphire glass display, which is very difficult to break or scratch. 

Customisation goes beyond the timepiece itself, as Apple has created six different straps and mechanisms to make accessories easily interchangeable. The straps range from leather loops to stainless steel.

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Credit: CBS Interactive

Three models -- Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition -- are available with different finishes; raw aluminium, polished gold and stainless steel.

The iPad and iPhone maker says the device is incredibly accurate and able to keep time to plus or minus 50 milliseconds. This was achieved by working with time and clock experts worldwide, and was something that "profoundly influenced" the design of the watch.

When you raise your wrist, the Apple device senses such movement, and automatically activates the display. Siri acts as the Watch's voice assistant, and users can use apps including Maps, search image libraries, scroll through favorite contact lists to call someone or send a message, send them a "tap" or use emoticons. Third-party apps will also be compatible with Apple's wearable device. The device can be paired with an iPhone for additional functionality.

According to Apple, the device's functionality will go beyond the digital -- as NFC technology will let users complete a number of other interesting tasks. For example, Starwood Hotels will allow Watch users to unlock their hotel doors using the product, Honeywell plans to let users control smart home lighting systems through the device, and BMW can connect to the Watch if you need directions or a map to where you last parked your car. Apple Pay will also work with the device.

A dial is used to navigate the operating system. The dial, which Apple calls the 'digital crown,' can be used to zoom in and out of applications, as well as scroll through lists. Pressing the crown returns you to the home screen. According to the tech giant, tiny electrodes around the display detect the difference between a tap and a press.

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Credit: CBS Interactive

The Watch contains a health monitor, as well as two dedicated applications -- a fitness tracker and workout app -- not only for those who want to get fitter, but for serious athletes. Apple describes the Watch's capabilities as the "complete picture" of your fitness and activity.

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Credit: CBS Interactive

Additionally, the gadget contains a custom computing chip and four lenses -- infrared, LED and photo sensors -- as well as pulse detection, a gyroscope and accelerometer. GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities through a paired smartphone can give the user a picture of daily fitness and activity. If used in such a way, the watch can also suggest goals or fitness milestones, and a dedicated iPhone app will monitor your fitness achievements.

The Watch is compatible not only with the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S.

The starting price for Apple Watch entry models is $349.

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