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Apple Watch unveiled – Apple Pay integration, voice calls and customisable straps

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By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

March 9, 2015 | 3 min read

Apple has finally unveiled the Apple Watch at its ‘Spring Forward’ event in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

The Apple Watch taking a call

Kicking off the event, Apple chief executive Tim Cook, proudly announced that the Apple Watch will be capable of transmiting iPhone notifications to users’ wrists and processing contactless Apple Pay transactions. This NFC technology will enable the smartwatch to grant access to cars and accommodations too.

The wearable will come in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm in a range of three available models, the 'Standard', 'Sport' and the 'Edition'. Both face displays and straps will be fully customisable. The Standard edition will retail for $349 and the Sport version at $349 for the 38mm case, and £399 for the 42mm case.

Meanwhile, the stainless steel Apple Watch will start at $549 rising to $1,049 for the 38mm and $599 rising to $1,099 depending on its strap. The 18-carat gold Edition is even higher. The Apple Watch Edition will start at $10,000 and comes with a selction of bands.

Cook said: “The Apple Watch is the most personal device we’ve ever created, it is not just with you but on you. It has to be personal with the ability to customise it.

“It is the most advanced time piece ever created, a revolutionary new way to connect with others.”

The Apple chief also shared the smartwatches' call-taking capabilities, stating: “I've been wanting to make calls from my wrist since I was five years old," as the device will ship with an in-built microphone to take voice commands and calls.

Also displayed was a number of compatible apps from Uber, Facebook, Shazam and Instagram, hinting that brands have been busy developing for the platform.

Consumers can file orders from 10 April and it will be for sale in many countries, including the UK, USA and China, from 24 April.

Apple Pay will be a major benefit of owning an Apple Watch, according to eMarketer, given its ability to let consumers conduct in-store payments without a credit card, from their wrists.

US mobile proximity payments totalled $3.5bn in 2014, with that figure set to increase significantly to reach $27.5bn by 2016 and $118bn by 2018.

This comes after Android Wear earlier today launched an ad touting itself as the most customisable smartwatch - somewhat stepping on Apple's product launch.

Last week Samsung revealed its equivalent to Apple Pay with the launch of its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which will feature Samsung Pay - a payments service opened up as a result of its acquisition of LoopPay.

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