Silicon Valley echoed with oohs and aahs just before 11:00 am Pacific Time today when Apple announced its much-anticipated Apple Watch. Hitting stores in early 2015, the watch will be available in three models: the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport and the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition.
In addition to boasting features such as accuracy within 50 milliseconds of global standard time, never-before-seen watch-to-watch communication features and the impeccably sleek design we've come to expect from Apple, the watches also offers detailed fitness tracking elements to record and analyze the wearer's overall health, as well as encourage him or her to live a healthier lifestyle.
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said that the Apple Watch will present you with a "comprehensive picture of your daily activity" in three ways: it tracks your total body movement with an accelerometer, measures the intensity of your movement with a custom heart rate sensor and tells you how much ground you've covered by connecting with both the gps and wi-fi in your iPhone.
The screen shows your daily progress in three colored rings, representing how many calories you've burned, how many minutes of brisk activity you've done and how often you've stood up during periods of sitting. The aim is to complete each of the three rings every day to keep your health on track. The watch not only rewards fitness milestones but also establishes and suggests goals based on your fitness patterns over time. Kevin Lynch, Apple's VP of Technology, noted during this morning's unveiling that Apple took care to ensure the goals suggested by the watch are "personal, realistic and, most important, achievable."
Lynch's comment touches on the concept of the watch as a personal and customizable timepiece, communication tool and fitness tracker, a theme that was highlighted several times throughout the presentation. Cook said the "Apple Watch is the most personal device we've ever created" and called it an "intimate way to connect and communicate." As every fitness enthusiast knows, no one understands your body, health and fitness regimen better than your coach or personal trainer - so the idea of a uniquely customizable fitness tracker is appealing indeed.
Furthering the appeal for fitness enthusiasts is the Sport's activity-friendly design. The Sport collection case weighs in at 30% lighter than the base and Edition models, and is made of 7000 Series anodized aluminum, a new alloy created by Apple that is a whopping 60% stronger than standard alloys. The display is made of Ion-X glass, and the sweat and chemical resistant fluoroelastomer band is available in five colors.
Apple has created several new fitness-oriented app options for the watch, including a stopwatch and timer, and the aptly-named Fitness and Workout apps. The Apple Watch Sport will also work with many other existing fitness apps, including Nike+. Given their prior partnerships while creating Nike's apps, it's no surprise that the two powerhouse brands are sustaining their relationship. There has been a lot of speculation about Nike's recent announcement to shelve its plans for the next generation of its own FuelBand Fitness Tracker - perhaps the Nike team got a sneak peek of the Apple Watch Sport and realized it was better to join the winning team than to compete with it?
Priced at a reasonable $349 and compatible with all iPhone 5 and 6 versions, Apple is knocking it out of the park with the Apple Watch; we look forward to seeing how it fares in both the smartwatch and fitness tracker industries when it's released early next year.