Latest in Apple

Image credit:

What to expect from Apple's 'spring forward' watch event

0 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Here's a twist: Apple is about to hold an event where you probably know what the main attraction will be. Yes, barring surprises, the March 9th "spring forward" presentation will largely answer the remaining questions about the Apple Watch. However, that list of questions is seemingly a mile long. How much will it cost to get the watch you want? What's the battery life like? Are there any surprise features? And this is all before you factor in rumors about other devices showing up, like new iPads or MacBooks. It's all a bit overwhelming, but don't worry. We've gathered up the most plausible leaks and rumors surrounding the event, so you'll know what to expect -- and in some cases, what not to expect -- when Tim Cook and crew take the stage.

Pricing: How high will it get?

If you have any substantial interest in the Apple Watch, you've probably fretted over pricing. After all, Apple only mentioned a $349 base price back in September -- that doesn't tell you anything about what it'll cost to get wristwear that suits your style. When there's talk of hand-polished metal links and 18-karat rose gold, you know some Watch variants won't come cheap. And there are 22 of them (five Watch Sport, 12 Watch, five Watch Edition), some of which have two different sizes. That's more than a little intimidating!

The one certainty at this point is that the starting $349 will get you an Apple Watch Sport. The UK's Sunday Times quoted that price for the 38mm Sport in a preview piece where it got rare early access for a photo shoot, and it only makes sense that a watch made from aluminum and glass would cost less than one built with stainless steel and sapphire. It's not certain if you'll pay more for a 42mm Sport, although that seems likely when you're getting a higher-resolution display (390 x 312 versus 340 x 272) on top of the larger case.

Apple Watch Edition with a white sport band

As for other models? There's nothing definite known at this point, although there are some educated guesses. Daring Fireball's John Gruber believes that Apple is likely to price the mid-tier Watch and the upscale Watch Edition more like mechanical timepieces (several hundred dollars and up), with prices varying wildly depending on both the core model and your choice of strap. A steel link bracelet could easily cost hundreds of dollars more than a rubber sport band, for example.

And you'll want to brace yourself for the potentially eye-watering costs of the Watch Edition. As Grail Watch notes, solid gold watches typically cost thousands of dollars more than their steel equivalents. You might just pay as much for an Edition as you would a decent used car, at several thousand dollars or more. With that said, don't be surprised if Apple keeps the pricing comparatively low. Many conventional gold watches are made in small numbers, so they have to be exorbitantly priced in order to turn a profit. Apple, meanwhile, is reportedly preparing to churn out more than 1 million Watch Edition units per month -- the economies of scale might let it undercut luxury brands by a wide margin.

Just don't expect to pick any band you like. Although the straps are interchangeable, pundits like Gruber suspect that the only official standalone options will be the sport bands. They'd be for exercise, not changing your look on the fly. Not that this lack of variety will likely be a problem for long, if it's true. It's virtually guaranteed that third parties will have their own bands as soon as possible, so you may not have to buy a stunningly expensive watch to get a strap you like.

Features, apps and battery life: What haven't we seen?

Apple Watch Sport showing favorite contacts

You probably already know a lot about what the Apple Watch can do if you've been paying attention to articles and videos. The team in Cupertino walked through many of the fundamentals at the original event, and they even previewed a few major Watch-friendly apps (such as Starwood's hotel app and Twitter) to give you a sense of how they'll work.

Having noted this, it's increasingly clear that Apple didn't show all of its cards half a year ago. Leaks at 9to5Mac have touched on the iPhone companion app and a notification center, and The New York Times revealed a Power Reserve feature that limits you to timekeeping to save battery life. You probably won't hear about every last nuance of the Watch on March 9th, but it's entirely possible that you'll learn about some features that weren't ready (or were simply undercooked) the last time around.

There's also a good chance that Apple will do much, much more to promote apps. Bloomberg hears that the company has been inviting developers to top-secret test labs in hopes of getting their Watch-compatible apps ready for launch, and that you'll probably see some of these at the presentation. That makes sense knowing the company's tendencies. Apple likes to use apps to highlight the value of new iPads and iPhones, and it's easy to imagine the same happening with its first-ever smartwatch.

And yes, you're likely to get a better feel for the battery life. Apple has so far only hinted that you'll want to charge the Watch every night, but it hasn't given out estimates -- odds are that you'll get some tangible figures this time. Sources for 9to5Mac suggest that Apple has had success optimizing the battery life in the past few months, and that you shouldn't have problems making it through a busy day. The five hours of reported active use doesn't sound like much, but you're only supposed to be using it in short bursts rather than minutes at a time, like you do with a smartphone.

When and where can you get it?

Apple Watch from the side

Ah, the big question: When will the Apple Watch arrive in stores? Officially, the device is expected to ship in April, so it shouldn't turn up any later than that. However, many have noted that it's very odd for Apple to hold an event a month before it ships. Historically, Apple likes to release devices on the Friday of the week following the event. If that happens in this case, you could be strapping on this accessory as early as March 20th. It's not far-fetched to imagine Apple announcing a limited release (say, US-only) this month, and spreading availability to other countries after that.

You'll probably also hear about which stores will carry the gadget, which is more important than you might think at first blush. Designer Jony Ive tells The New Yorker that Apple stores are getting a makeover to accommodate the Watch (you don't want to leave expensive watches on open tables), and it's not certain that all of them will be ready in time, or that they'll carry all models. Much like the conventional watch world, you may have to visit specific stores if you want to see the gold watches in person. And while Apple rarely discusses third-party shops, MacRumors understands that Apple may introduce pop-up locations in department stores and jewelers.

Wild cards: Apple TV, giant iPads and tiny MacBooks

iPad Air

There's a temptation to think that Apple will introduce everything at one of its events, and that's undoubtedly true here. If you believed all the claims, this would be one of the tech giant's biggest events to date.

From all indications, though, there won't be anything beyond the wearable tech. Bloomberg claims that the often-rumored 12.9-inch iPad has been pushed back to the fall. Likewise, 9to5Mac doesn't believe that a sleeker, app-focused Apple TV box will be ready given that related content deals aren't finished. You can probably forget about that Beats-based streaming-music service, too, since 9to5 can't see it surfacing until June. About the only semi-likely introduction is the fabled 12-inch Retina display MacBook Air, and the Wall Street Journal's tipsters merely stated that shipping would start in the second quarter. Unless it's ready for April, you're more likely to see it at another event.

It's impossible to completely rule out something else, but a wearable-only event is logical. The device is arguably Apple's largest product launch in the past few years -- the folks at 1 Infinite Loop may not want to risk overshadowing their big moment by introducing anything else at the same time. That may be disappointing if you're expecting a new laptop or tablet, but something tells us that Apple will have plenty to show you even if the Watch is the only item on deck.

From around the web