Apple today unveiled its entry in the smartwatch market, a high-end device that allows users to make and receive calls and messages and track health and fitness.
“It’s like having a coach on your wrist,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said as he unveiled the keenly awaited Apple Watch.
Pre-orders will start April 10 for delivery on April 24 in nine countries, Apple said.
Speaking at a media event in San Francisco, Cook said the new smartwatch “is the most personal device we have ever created,” and can display a variety of faces ranging from a classic watch to an animated Mickey Mouse.
Connecting to the iPhone, the Apple Watch is designed as a wrist device for messaging and calls and for a variety of health tracking applications.
“With the built in speaker and microphone you can receive calls on your watch. I have been wanting to do this since I was five years old,” Cook said.
The watch is also integrated with Apple Pay’s mobile wallet, and can be used to view pictures and monitor news, and also connect to social media. The watch can use other apps ranging from Uber ride-sharing to music to home automation.
“Now it’s on your wrist, not in your pocket or your pocketbook,” Cook said.
“I think you’re going to be surprised at what developers can do when you unleash that community.”
Apple demonstrated using the watch to listen to music, with lyrics displayed on the watch face. The company also demonstrated an app to open a garage door from afar to let in a family member who is locked out.
Cook added that the Apple Watch “is quickly going to become integral to your day, so we’ve designed it for all-day battery life,” or some 18 hours per day.
Apple enters a market that already has a number of players, ranging from South Korean giants Samsung and LG, to Japan’s Sony and startups such as Pebble.
But analysts expect Apple to lift the market by integrating the watch with the iPhone and its software ecosystem, and its range of apps and sensors for health and fitness.
Apple said entry price would be USD 349 in the United States, with costs up to USD 1,049 for extra features. a special solid gold limited edition will be priced from USD 10,000.
At the event, Apple also unveiled a new Macbook laptop computer than weighs less than one kilogram (two pounds), and a new initiative to use the iPhone to collect data for medical research, focusing on heart disease, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease.