Apple Watch to include array of features to connect

SAN FRANCISCO ( MEDIA )

Apple launched an assault on the fledgling wearable tech market Monday, unveiling a high-end smartwatch that offers new ways to stay connected and to track health and fitness.

The Apple Watch will be available in several major markets around the world from April 24, at a starting price of $349.

“Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology,” said chief executive Tim Cook, who spoke at a San Francisco media event.

Cook said “the most personal device we have ever created” can display a variety of faces ranging from a classic watch face to an animated Mickey Mouse.

Connecting wirelessly to a user´s iPhone, the watch is designed as a wrist device for messaging, calls and a variety of health apps.

An Apple statement described it as “an intimate and immediate communication device and a groundbreaking health and fitness companion.”

Apple enters a market that already has a number of players, ranging from South Korean giants Samsung and LG, to Japan´s Sony and startups such as Pebble.

But analysts expect Apple to lift the market by integrating the watch with the iPhone and its software ecosystem, and its range of apps and sensors for health and fitness.

“Competing smartwatch makers have to be breathing a sigh of relief; yet, Apple will outsell all the rest of them combined in 2015,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey.

“But in so doing, Apple will bring very valuable attention to the market, essentially releasing a rising tide that will float all their boats.”

For communication, Apple Watch offers a range of apps and can be used as a sort of wrist-radio from the Dick Tracy comics.

“With the built in speaker and microphone you can receive calls on your watch. I have been wanting to do this since I was five years old,” Cook said.

The watch is integrated with Apple Pay´s mobile wallet and can be used to view pictures, monitor news and connect to social media. The watch can use other apps ranging from Uber ride-sharing to music to home automation. “Now it´s on your wrist, not in your pocket or your pocketbook,” Cook said.

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