THE APPLE WATCH has finally arrived, but it has come with more of a whimper than a bang.
24 April marks the official launch date of the Apple Watch, but due to stock issues and high levels of demand during the pre-order phase, Apple will not be selling the watches in-store on launch day.
Instead, only those who got their order in for the device as soon as pre-orders became available will be receiving an Apple Watch on launch day. If you weren't so lucky, we've gathered all the details on how you can get your hands on one and when it's likely to arrive.
Where to buy
The Apple Watch was made available to pre-order on 10 April, with huge demand. This means that it's going to be all but impossible to wander into a shop on 24 April when the smartwatch officially launches and get your hands on one of the highly coveted devices. Apple has already made the decision that in-store purchasing won't start until June.
However, don't despair just yet. According to The New York Times, there are a few places which will be stocking the Apple Watch on 24 April. These are jewellers Dover Street Market in Tokyo and London, Maxfield in LA, Colette in Paris, the Corner in Berlin and 10 Corso Como in Milan.
So as long as you happen to live in the vicinity of one of these great cities, and have the money for a high-end Apple Watch, your luck could be in.
Adrian Joffe, CEO of Dover Street Market, told The NYT it has around 350 Apple Watches in its Tokyo store and 570 in London, although the gold Edition versions are already on back order.
With the Apple Watch now up for pre-order, full pricing details for the wearable are now available.
The cheapest option, the 38mm Apple Watch Sport, is available to pick up from £299, while the larger 42mm model will cost £339.
The more-expensive Apple Watch version is available to purchase from £479, going up to £949 depending on the case and band combination. For example, a 38mm Apple Watch with a Black Classic Buckle strap will set you back £559, while the 42mm model will be £50 more expensive.
As expected, the Apple Watch Edition, which is crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-carat gold, is the most expensive. It's available at the Apple website from £8,000, with this price rising to £13,500 for the most expensive version.
The Apple Watch became available to pre-order exclusively from 8am on 10 April and, according to reports, sold close to one million units on day one in the US.
From 10 April, customers Customers in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US can try on and experience Apple Watch at their local Apple Store or at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo, Selfridges in London, and select Apple Authorised Resellers in Japan and China.
High rollers interested inthe Apple Watch Edition will be given more time to try out the devices in store than the rest of us. Big spenders can book a 30-minute appointment to try on the pricier Apple Watch, compared to the 15-minute slots available for trying out the standard version.
While Apple had promised a 24 April release date, the Watch promptly sold out, in turn pushing back shipping dates for the wearable. Apple has also confirmed that there will be no in-store stock available on launch day, and unlikely will be until June at the earliest.
Over on the Apple website, the cheapest Apple Sport Watch and most expensive Apple Watch Edition are listed as shipping in June, according to the Apple website, while the Apple Watch is listed as 4-6 weeks delivery time, so mid-May at the earliest.
Apple has yet to comment on the shipping dates, but had previously warned that the device likely will be in short supply at launch - which could be to blame on defective models. However, according to a report at Macrumours, the firm is ramping up production of the Apple Watch in order to best its promised shipping dates.
The Apple Watch will be made available in 1.5in (38mm) and 1.7in (42mm) screen sizes, with 272x340 and 319x390 resolutions, respectively. The smartwatch will feature a square display, unlike the round screen on the Moto 360, coated in a protective layer of sapphire crystal.
The smartwatch will be available to pick up with different faces and straps, 34 to be precise.
Apple didn't mention this during its glitzy launch event, but the website confirms that the smartwatch is also certified to the IPX7 waterproof standard, which means it's protected against a "short duration of water immersion" at a depth of less than one metre.
The Apple Watch runs a custom version of iOS designed from the ground up. It supports touch navigation, but the UI can also be controlled by the handset's 'Digital Crown'. This mechanical wheel, like that which you would normally use to set the time on a standard watch, lets you scroll and browse through the user interface.
For example, scrolling the Digital Crown will allow you to zoom in and out on Apple's Maps app, while tapping it will take you back to the main home screen.
Apple's new 'Taptic engine' improves the mapping experience, buzzing wearers with different vibrations when they need to turn left or right. This feature can also be used to send fellow Apple Watch wearers a nudge, and for notification alerts.
On the software side, the Apple Watch comes with Siri, allowing users to bark commands at their wrist and to reply to messages. On-screen typing will not be supported owing to the small screen size, but a feature called Smart Replies will allow users to choose from a number of pre-written responses for those who feel silly talking to their wrist. Those who don't will be able to answer calls from the Apple Watch.
Handoff is supported on the Apple Watch, a feature introduced alongside iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, and HomeKit and HealthKit support is included, which means users will be able to control devices in their home and track fitness levels while wearing the smartwatch.
The Apple Watch is stuffed full of health and fitness sensors too, and is capable of measuring heart rate, calories burned and body movements. This all comes baked in to Apple's new Activity and Workout apps, where users can also count calories and set personal goals.
Apple had reportedly planned to install more advanced health features, such as sensors to measure stress and oxygen levels, but encountered reliability problems during testing.
There will be a number of different watch faces to choose from, which can be changed with a long press on the homescreen. Swiping up from the bottom of the display will launch a feature called Glances to swipe through recent notifications.
Apple confirmed during the event on 9 March that some third-party apps will be available from launch.
These include EasyJet, Salesforce, Shazam, WeChat and SPG Hotels, which will allow adopters to use the Apple Watch to unlock their hotel room. Philips has since confirmed to Time that it will release a Hue app for the Apple Watch, allowing customers to control lighting using the wearable, and Microsoft has released a OneDrive app for the smartwatch.
Perhaps ensuring that London's hipster crowd are the first to pick up an Apple Watch, the firm also said that Instagram and Uber apps will be available from launch.
NFC will comes loaded inside the device, allowing wearers to make use of the Apple Pay contactless payments service, which is also available on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets. It's not yet clear when this will be available in the UK, but Visa tells us that it will arrive at some point this year.
Despite speculation that the Apple Watch battery might last a mere 2.5 hours with heavy application use, CEO Tim Cook claimed that it will last 18 hours on average. Wireless charging support is included.
Apple's website sheds some more light on the smartwatch's battery, revealing that users can expect around 6.5 hours of music playback, and 3.5 hours of talk time. It also reveals that the Apple Watch will take 1.5 hours to charge to 80 percent, and 2.5 hours to full.
Other specifications include an S1 processor, Bluetooth 4.0 support, WiFi and 8GB storage.
However, as reported by 9to5Mac, the Apple Watch won't offer 8GB usable storage, and will instead offer a mere 75MB for photos and 2GB for music.
Like most smartwatches, you will need a compatible phone to use the Apple Watch. These the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5. The iPhone 4S is not supported.
We've also compared the Apple Watch with the Pebble Time Steel. µ
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