Apple Watch springs forward

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Apple Watch.
Apple Watch.

Updated: The consumer electronics company officially launched its smartwatch -- and offered glimpses of its potential for brands

SAN FRANCISCO — Right on time, Apple on Monday chimed in on long-awaited details of its Apple Watch lineup.

Though the Watch was the most anticipated news of the day, the first hour was full of announcements about AppleTV and media partnerships, Mac updates, and software.

Apple CEO Tim Cook promised 18 hours of battery charge, to last "all day." He noted that charing the Watch is just a matter of placing it near its magnetic charger.

Different sizes of the Watch will command different prices. The entry-level Sport will cost $349 for a smaller model and $399 for a larger version. The stainless steel will range from $549 to $1,049 for a 38mm version; the 42mm model will cost between $599 and $1,099.

At the highest end, the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will start at $10,000. They won’t be stocked in all Apple Stores, though Cook said that interested customers will be able to view and sample them, and work with salespeople to order exactly the configuration of the Edition they want.

All models will be available for pre-order on April 10, shipping on April 24, although not all around the world.

Beyond Apple Watch, the company offered a recap of Apple Pay, and Cook  introduced medical research professionals around the world, who in turn expanded on Apple’s HealthKit and new (and open-source) ResearchKit. The latter allows developers to design and build apps that can be "powerful diagnostics tools"; some might use the iPhone’s motion sensor to replicate a useful test for Parkinson’s symptoms or use the microphone for a diagnostic vocal test. In fact, five of these apps are available today.

Apple was also explicit that users would have control over how their data were shared. In light of the sensitivity of medical data, Apple device users will have total control over their privacy settings — and Apple will not see this data, it was made clear. This was perhaps a dig at Google, which has also been making inroads in health and sensor technology, though often in service to serving ads.

After outlining new MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models, Cook came back on stage to talk about the Apple Watch, "the most personal device Apple has ever created."

Cook stressed that the Watch tells time, tracks health and helps users communicate. "Apple Watch allows you to communicate much more immediately and much more intimately," Cook said. He demonstrated how you can receive calls and read full emails right on your wrist.

Uniquely, though, users will be able to communicate Watch-to-Watch, through a feature called Digital Touch, or as Cook called it, "a new way to communicate." Users will even be able to send their heart rates to each other.

Apple Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch demonstrated how users can interact with news apps, social media, messages, calendars, by talking to Siri. For health features, Cook recapped what we previously knew about the Watch — that it will track calories, distance, time as you exercise, and offer reports.

Lynch also showed how users could call up and check the status of an Uber car through an in-Watch Uber app, which would show the expected arrival time, a photo of the car and driver, and the driver license number. He also walked through a scenario of unlocking a hotel room with his Watch, and then using Shazam on his Watch to identify a song being played.

Keith Petri, vice president of strategic partnerships with cloud-based digital marketer IgnitionOne, told Campaign Apple Watch will represent a one-to-one relationship with consumers that’s a prime opportunity for brands.

With features like its accelerometer and heart-rate monitor, "it’ll be  a new touch point with consumers," Petri said. "It will be another way to collect data for brands to better personalize the relationship with their customers."

One outstanding question Petri raised: whether Apple Watch will have its own unique device identifier and host apps or whether its identifier will be the same as its "parent device" (most often users’ iPhones).

As Marketing's Shona Ghosh pointed out, "Apple is trying to push the idea of micro moments (Glances), meaning you never look at a single app for more than a few seconds at a time. That means partner brands and app makers need to pack in the most useful information in the most digestible way."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments by Keith Petri.

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