At a packed event in San Francisco, Apple released more information about its forthcoming Apple Watch today and showed off a redesigned MacBook weighing just 2 pounds.
A glance of the timepiece will let you check on messages, weather, and even your heart rate, Apple CEO Tim Cook told onlookers. A touch allows you to sketch and send a picture—or just a notification—to a friend. And you can take calls on it, too: "I have been wanting to do this since I was 5 years old."
"Apple Watch is the most personal device we have ever created," said Cook. "It's not just with you. It's on you."
He also sought to reassure customers that battery life would be up to snuff, promising 18 hours on a charge. The device is charged with a cord that ends in a magnetic connector that snaps to the underside of the watch face.
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) March 9, 2015
But it was the apps—-and the various design options-—that earned the most attention at Monday's lavish event.
The Apple Watch can be configured to track physical activity and warn users if they are too sedentary. Users can pick from a variety of watch faces. Siri will be on-hand, literally so, to utter travel and storm updates.
Apps for Twitter, Uber, Salesforce, MLB and American Airlines were demoed. The gadget can even settle up a bar tab or buy groceries, using Apple Pay.
The Watch will be available from April 24, with pre-orders starting on April 10, but will have to muscle its way into a crowded peloton of established competitors in the bio-tracking gadget field.
Apple Watch Sport, the entry-level model, will cost $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm model. Upgrading to the stainless steel design bumps the price to at least $549, depending on the strap chosen, with $1099 for an all-metal pairing. Apple Watch Edition, for high rollers, starts at $10,000. Understandable, given that it's made of gold.
Tiny MacBook, tinier pixels
Introduced by Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, the new MacBook is, at 13.1mm thick, the slimmest model yet introduced. The new fanless design has per-key led keyboard backlighting, a new trackpad, and the high-DPI display (2304×1440) long-demanded by users.
"This is insane," Schiller said, claiming thirty percent more battery life, despite the decreased size of the laptop, crediting a much smaller circuit board.
A single USB-C connector supports USB, VGA, HDMI, Thunderbolt, and other standards; adapters will presumably be forthcoming to connect older peripherals.
The new MacBook will be pricier than current models, though, starting at $1299 and taking $1599 for a 12-inch Retina Display model with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB solid state drive.
It will even come, optionally, in gold–albeit not the real stuff, and at no extra cost.
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) March 9, 2015
CEO Tim Cook also said that Apple, the world's most valuable publicly-traded company, had recently sold its 700 millionth iPhone and its 25 millionth Apple TV box. The streaming video gadget's price will drop to $70 from $100.
A selection of new iOS Health apps were also on show Monday, including ones designed to help users manage chronic conditions such as cancer, asthma and diabetes. Apple's senior vice president of operations, Jeff Williams, said that Apple worked on the apps with major health research sites such as Massachussetts General Hospital, and Stanford and Cornell Universities.
The apps do not treat the illnesses, of course, but are intended to help patients arm themselves with information and better tools to track specific health needs.
"Desease symptoms ebb and flow, and communication is a challenge" Williams said. "We see a way to help."
Moreover, he said, the technology underlying the apps, named ResearchKit, will be open-source.