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What you need to know about Apple Watch, Apple's attempt to remake wearables

TechHive Staff | Sept. 11, 2014
Tim Cook finally got a chance to roll out a brand-new product--heck, a brand-new product category--for Apple on Tuesday, unveiling the company's new Apple Watch lineup at a highly anticipated press event in Cupertino. Apple demonstrated many juicy features of the watch, but left a lot to the imagination, including exactly when we can buy one. Here's a breakdown of what we know and what we still can't wait to find out.

Apple seems to have gone all out for the watch, building in many of the common apps that we use every day: Messages, Mail, Weather, Calendar, Maps, Passbook, Music, Photos, and more. A few notable omissions: While the Apple Watch can act as a viewfinder for your iPhone's camera, letting you snap pictures and even set the self-timer, it doesn't have its own built-in camera. Nor does it have Safari, Apple's Web browser — all the information you get is mediated through those apps.

Still, if what Apple builds into the app isn't enough, third-party apps will be available and encouraged. Apple showed off a handful of apps from friendly developers at Tuesday's event — a Starwood Resorts app that lets you check in from your Apple Watch and even make it possible unlock your room door from your watch at W Hotels was particularly cool. The company also said it would be providing a WatchKit API to allow other app makers to create several different types of experiences, including actionable notifications, Glances (quick multiscreen views of specific information as we said above), and full-blown apps.

What kind of battery life is Apple claiming?Apple's only mention of battery life in the presentation was that it had designed the device for "easy nightly charging" with the magnetic charger. But company representatives declined to answer reporters' questions about battery life in the hands-on area. That's not a great sign, if you want to believe that the Apple Watch has comparable battery life to its Android Wear competitors. But it could just mean that Apple is still making tweaks to the software to wring out as much battery life as possible.

Does the Apple Watch charge wirelessly?No. The back of the watch has no exposed charging contacts, and the charging cable snaps on with magnets to juice it up via induction. But it's not "true" wireless charging as you might normally think of it, where you'd drop the watch onto a charging pad and walk away — it's more like your electric toothbrush.

We've seen a magnetic charging dongle similar to this on the FiLIP, which is a wearable GPS tracker and phone for kids. The first few times we used it, we loved the satisfying click as the magnets latched on, but the novelty quickly wore off, and then the charger was just another proprietary dongle we had to keep track of.

Hopefully the Apple Watch will be able to go all day on a single charge, so you don't need to shell out for a second charger to keep at work. After all, Apple is the company that charges $19 for a spare iPhone cable.

 

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