Apple Watch Rumor Roundup

Excitement is building as next Monday's announcement draws near. Everyone is expecting the event to focus on details of the forthcoming Apple Watch. We already know a fair amount, thanks to the announcement last fall. And more details emerged when Apple released the WatchKit tools for developers. Plus, there have been a number of rumors.

Price

The biggest question mark is price. Apple has only said that the Apple Watch would start at $349. That's apparently the price for the low-end Apple Watch Sport. Rumors have suggested that the stainless steel Apple Watch will start at $500, and the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition will range from $4,000–$20,000. The Kirkville website has posted reasonable speculation regarding the pricing, based on Apple's other products, suggesting that the larger-sized model would add about $50 to the price in each instance. And that an upgraded band might start around $100, and could cost several hundred for fancier ones. Let's imagine then, that you go for the large-sized stainless steel model. You'd be looking at $550 for the watch and $100 for the band, bringing the price to $650. One thing's for sure: there will be an unusually large number of choices for this Apple product.

Battery life

Another big question mark is battery life. Rumors have suggested that early on the best Apple could do was 19 hours with light use, and that extending battery life has been a major focus of Apple during the months since the announcement. As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard noted, recent rumors are reporting that the Apple Watch will have a "Power Reserve" mode in which the only function will be to tell the time. This is reportedly a workaround that will help to extend battery life.

A reminder to move

Apple CEO Tim Cook himself has been the source of some of the unannounced tidbits about the Apple Watch. According to an article on CNET, Cook said that one of the health features of the Apple Watch will be a silent buzz to remind you to move if you've been sitting too long. If you haven't moved in the past hour, the watch will give you a slight buzz 10 minutes before the top of the hour.

A "ton" of apps to be announced

Cook also indicated, according to 9To5Mac, that Apple will be announcing a "ton" of apps very soon, most likely at the March 9 event. He said there will be apps that let you unlock your hotel room door, and even to check into a hotel. He said health and fitness apps will be a major focus, including apps that let you develop customized workout routines and track fitness statistics. He also indicated that apps tailored to enterprise applications are being developed.

Short and long looks

Some of the most interesting detail to emerge came as a result of Apple's release of the WatchKit tools for app developers. In this post, I described how the Apple Watch will distinguish between short and long looks. If you glance at your watch, you'll see a notification such as your plane is boarding now. But if you then continue to look at your watch, more information will appear, such as the flight number, boarding time, and gate number. During the Long Look, the icon for the app and the original notification get smaller and move to the top of the screen to make room for the additional detail. You can then scroll through the additional information and perform actions such as commenting, favoriting, or dismissing. 

Limited number of gestures

Don't expect the gestures you use on the Apple Watch to be the same as your iPhone. Likely because of the smaller screen, the Apple Watch will have a different repertoire of gestures. They will be limited to vertical swipes to scroll through the screen, horizontal swipes to go between pages, tapping to select, and a "force touch," which opens a contextual menu. Also, the digital crown lets one scroll quickly through pages. Plus, there's an "edge swipe" that goes back and another edge swipe that opens the "glance" view.

No fully native apps until later this year

Perhaps the biggest surprise revealed by WatchKit, as I discussed in this post, is the way in which Apple Watch apps will be limited. In almost every case, they'll require an iPhone. Most of the processing of the app will take place on the iPhone, with relevant bits of information then being pushed to the Apple Watch display. Apple has said, however, that fully native apps would come later this year, meaning that they would run on the Apple Watch independent of one's iPhone. Apple has apparently done this to exert control over the interface so that users have the best possible experience.

Glances and actionable notifications

The information pushed from your iPhone to your Apple Watch will be either in the form of "glances" or "actionable notifications." A glance is a "template-based notification" on the watch display sent via an app on one's iPhone, such as a weather app. You can't interact with the glance but it does act as a gateway to link you to the parent app on your phone. And an actionable notification presents information on the screen that you can respond to. This feature is basically an extension of the notifications already available on your iPhone.

In a press release related to WatchKit, Apple gave an example of how this will work. 

“Fans crave real-time and personal information, and the ESPN app for Apple Watch gives us the ability to deliver live scores and information for their favorite teams,” said John Kosner, executive vice president of Digital and Print Media, ESPN. “Glances provide fans with a snapshot of live games, and if there is no game taking place, they’ll get valuable game-time information or the final box score. With actionable notifications, the experience becomes even more personal, as fans receive alerts on score changes, news and more.”

Pulse-rate lenses also give security

One question that arose after Apple's announcement last September was in regard to using the Apple Watch for Apple Pay. What if someone steals your watch? Will they then be able to use it to pay for purchases. As I explained in this post, the back side of the watch has four lenses that monitor the blood flow through your skin to measure your pulse rate. By using those sensors the watch can tell whether it's on your wrist. When you take it off, the watch locks itself and Apple Pay doesn't work until you enter your code again.

Make and receive calls

It's also rumored that you'll be able to use Apple Watch to make and receive calls. Of course, you'll need to have your iPhone nearby in order to do so. Apple Watch is expected to have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Installing apps

David Pogue had a chance to use an Apple Watch and reported that you load apps on the watch via your iPhone and that you can rearrange them into clusters. You do so as you would on your iOS device, tapping and holding until they start jiggling. He also said there's a button that lets you ping your iPhone to make it beep, in case you can't remember where you put it. 

Apple will have 56 million watches at launch

As I noted in this post, Apple is certainly expecting sales to be good and, according to the Wall Street Journal, they've ordered 5–6 million Apple Watches from their suppliers to the watch's launch.

I'm looking forward to Monday's event and learning more. In the meantime, the above details should fill in some gaps.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.