Apple shows off the Watch, ready next year

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Rumours can now be quelled, as Apple has shown off its long awaited and suspected wearable. Is it everything people expected?

“Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, and once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, announcing a new product to a crowded house this week.

That product is the long awaited “Watch,” a gadget that many expected years ago, and is now ready to be seen by all, ahead of its release next year.

In fact, Apple is calling its Watch “the most personal product” the company has ever made, thanks to what it can do.

So what can it do?

Well for starters it can tell the time, which you’d expect a watch to do, obviously. Apple makes this happen by way of a Retina display that appears as a softened rectangle, with the screen able to discern the difference between a tap and a press, and this control helping you feel and prod your way to using the touchscreen watch.

A version of Apple’s iOS runs here, designed for a different device with lots of circular icons, and able to be controlled by what Apple calls the “Digital Crown,” which is a small knob and button on the right side of the watch that allows you to make your way around the operating system quickly, and also press on it to get Siri to start up.

A microphone is also included, as is a small speaker, making phone calls possible from your wrist, with the Apple Watch connecting to an iPhone to put these features in action.

The Watch is also charged by a combination of its MagSafe technology and inductive charging, while a combination of accelerometer sensors, GPS, WiFi, and heart-rate tracker provide a number of things for the smartwatch to look out for within the WatchKit system handled by Apple.

There are some catches to the Apple Watch, however, with the obvious one being price, because at $349 US, yowza, this thing ain’t cheap.

In Australia, the smartwatch competition is led by the LG G Watch running Google’s Android Wear, with Samsung’s Gear Live and Motorola’s circular 360 Android Wear watches in-bound shortly.

At a slightly higher price is the Samsung Gear 2, which fetches the recommended retail price of $369.95, and that watch will only work if you use a Samsung phone, a recent flagship at that.

But with a starting price of $349 stateside for the Apple Watch, we don’t expect Apple will sell its first proper wearable for less than $399 locally (starting), likely making it one of the most expensive wearables around when it is released.

Then there’s the platform control, and like how Samsung’s watches tend to force you to have a Samsung phone — a requirement that seems stupid to us — Apple’s Watch will require an Apple phone, with the iPhone 5 being the minimum requirement here.

So much for platform agnosticism, it appears, with Google’s Android Wear requiring an Android phone to work, and Apple’s Watch needing an iPhone. At least Pebble is agnostic, or semi, anyway, with iOS and Android working properly.

The one final catch is availability, with America getting the Apple Watch first in early 2015, but no other country listed. We’re not expecting it until at least April next year in Australia.

But if waiting is fine for you, you’ll find the Apple Watch is three versions, with the regular Apple Watch in polished or space black stainless steel, the Apple Watch Spor in space grey or silver aluminium with a sporty band, and the Apple Watch Edition with 18-karat rose or yellow gold and some more luxurious cases.

Images by Valens Quinn, who attended the launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch as a guest of Apple