Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook on Monday announced details of the first product developed under his leadership, a watch that Apple hopes will transform the market of wearable technology.
"Apple Watch is the most personal device we have ever created," Cook said. "It's not just with you. It's on you."
The watch, which provides varying faces to meet a mixture of preferences, includes a fitness component that tracks daily movement and provides reminders to users who set weekly exercise goals.
"It's like having a coach on your wrist," Cook said.
Apple Watch also enables users to receive messages, phone calls and notifications — just like its iPhones. Other features allow users to check the weather, access their calendar, play music and monitor their heartbeat with just the swipe of a finger.
Apple Watch also enables users to connect with other Apple Watch users, allowing them to communicate in new ways. A user can draw a sketch that will appear on another user's watch, send a 'tap' to get another user's attention or forward your heartbeat.
"This is an incredibly intimate way to tell someone you're thinking of them," Cook said.
The company provided a sneak preview of the "Apple Watch" in September, has shown it to fashionistas, and even bought a 12-page advertising spread in Vogue magazine, but fans and skeptics were eager for more details.
With a rectangular face of about 1.5 inches in the smaller of two sizes, the watch wirelessly tethers to an iPhone, measures heart rate, and can tap wearers on the wrist to signal a new message or appointment. The Apple Watch sport will start at $349 for the smaller model. The standard version of the watch will start at $549 and the high-end "Edition" watch will be priced from $10,000, Cook said.
Apple has said the watch will launch in April and speculation is rife on what capabilities, from healthcare and fitness to navigation and entertainment, will be included. Apple fans have been waiting for a new type of product for five years, raising expectations.
It is an open question whether Apple or anyone else can create a new market for watches. The first watches based on Google Inc's Android Wear software became available last year.
Companies, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Electronics Inc, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd and Qualcomm Inc., collectively have not yet had a wearable hit. More companies are expected to test the waters this year, including possibly Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd., China's largest maker of smartphones.
Meanwhile, traditional watch brands such as Swatch are beginning to make timepieces with features such as activity tracking.
Roughly 4.6 million smartwatches were shipped in 2014, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Analysts estimate that Apple could sell anywhere from 10 million to 32 million Apple Watches in 2015. By comparison, Apple sold about 15 million iPads in 2010, after an April launch.
Apple will have to "tweak" its stores to handle the watch, Cook told the Telegraph newspaper recently.
PhillyVoice reporter John Kopp contributed to this report.