Apple Watch will take 150 minutes to charge fully

We won’t get to test battery life for the Apple Watch until it lands on wrists starting on April 24. CEO Tim Cook didn’t go into much battery detail at the Apple Watch keynote, merely promising “all-day battery life,” which apparently means 18 hours, according to Cook.

But Apple posted a helpful page on its site shortly after the event, detailing what you can expect from Apple Watch’s little battery. Surprise: Its battery life varies widely based on what you’re asking it to do.

The “all-day” claim was tested on a prototype device using 90 time checks and 90 notifications over 18 hours, or about every six minutes. It also took into account 45 minutes on an app, and a 30-minute workout. This is also the first time that Apple has publicly estimated how many times you’ll look at an Apple Watch per day — about every five minutes.

When you reach for Apple’s magnetic inductive charger, it should be able to top off your watch’s battery up to 80 percent in 90 minutes, and fully charge it in two-and-a-half hours. Apple also noted that the 42mm Apple Watches generally experiences longer battery life than the 38mm models.

Apple-Watch-MagSafe-Inductive-Charger-250x280

If you’re using the device intensely, you can expect battery life to decrease. For instance, you’ll only be able to squeeze three hours of talking out of an Apple Watch, and 6.5 hours of using it as an iPod while listening to music through Bluetooth headphones. You’ll also need to wrap up your run in under seven hours before the battery gives out.

Tests on competing Android Wear smartwatches, which also need daily charging, have generally been close to Apple’s estimates. Ars Technica tested the LG G Watch’s battery and found it lasted just under 24 hours with normal usage — which might not be the same amount of usage as Apple’s tests.

But if you’re just using Apple Watch as a, well, watch, you can expect to eke out more time without a trip back to the charger. If you check your watch every 12 minutes, you can expect two days of battery life. If you turn on Power Reserve mode, you can eke out 72 hours.

Apple’s battery predictions tend to be on the mark; it doesn’t usually exaggerate how long you can work on one of its products. So — expect to get a full day of moderate usage out of your Apple smartwatch, as long as your day only has 18 hours.

Apple Watch ranges in price from $349 to over $10,000; on sale April 24

Apple answered questions about its first smartwatch at a media event in San Francisco on Monday and now we’ve got some answers on how much Apple Watch will cost and when you can buy one.

Apple Watch pricing depends on which size you get. The 38-mm Apple Watch Sport will cost $349, and the 42-mm model will cost $399. To move up to the stainless steel model, you’re going to spend at least $549, and as much as $1,049, depending on bracelet. The 42-mm models are $50 more. And for big spenders, the Apple Watch Edition with a gold case costs $10,000 and up. More information is now available on Apple’s website.

Apple Watch collection

Preorders start on April 10, and that’s when Apple will start to display them in Apple Stores. Apple Watch will go on sale on April 24 in nine countries, including China, Hong Kong, France, Japan, and the United States.

Bands, sold separately, will start at $49 for a sport band, with leather bands and a mesh bracelet coming in at $150, all the way up to Apple’s link band, which costs $449.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special event on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special event on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

In the absence of a unified story about what Apple Watch is best for, Apple focused on several Apple Watch features on Monday. Its first demo centered on a feature Apple called Digital Touch, which was introduced in September. It allows a user to draw on their watch and send the image to a friend’s Apple Watch — a feature that Android Wear doesn’t yet include. Users can pick up calls or reply to iMessages from an Apple Watch.

Apple Watch stand up

Apple Watch is fitness-focused, too. If you’ve been sitting too long, it will tap you and remind you to get up. For more serious athletes, Apple Watch is sporting a new workout app that tracks running, cycling, and sessions on cardio machines at your gym. It sets activity goals for you the way a coach would. These aren’t third-party features; they’re built into every Apple Watch.

Passbook gets some Apple Watch love, too. It can be used on the Apple Watch to show flight times and store QR codes. Apple Watch will work with Apple Pay for contactless retail payments.

Other features will have to be provided by third-party developers. Apple previewed apps and notifications from ESPN, CNN, Salesforce, Instagram, WeChat, Uber, Shazam, Starwood Hotels, and developers. To get those apps, you download them through the Apple Watch app on an iPhone. That feature is in the iOS 8.2 update, available today.

Uber Apple Watch app

Even if you don’t like notifications or apps on your wrist, Apple Watch has a few nifty features, like the ability to change faces based on the time of day or your location. You can control your music and use Siri as well, although Siri doesn’t talk on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch syncs with an iPhone through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. If you were wondering about battery life, Apple says that Apple Watch can manage an “all-day battery life across a range of activities,” which apparently means about 18 hours.

Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams announces ResearchKit on stage during an Apple special event on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams announces ResearchKit on stage during an Apple special event on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Apple debuts a thin, fanless MacBook that comes in gold

Although most of the attention at Apple’s special event on Monday will be on the Apple Watch, the company still had a little treat for Mac fans. As expected, Apple launched a 12-inch MacBook on Monday, and it will cost $1,299 or more when it starts shipping on April 10.

“We challenged ourselves to reinvent the notebook with what we’ve learned from iPhone and iPad,” CEO Tim Cook said.

macbook_overview_og

Starting, apparently, with colors. The new MacBook comes in the same colors as the iPhone and iPad: Gray, gold and silver.

This new laptop is a clear break from previous Apple laptops. Instead of Apple’s proprietary MagSafe charger, it has a single USB Type-C port, which delivers video, data and power in one, and a headphone jack. The single port shouldn’t cause too many problems when users want to plug in a device while charging: Apple says the new MacBook should be able to manage nine hours of web browsing on a single charge.

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Apple said its MacBook is 24 percent slimmer than the current MacBook Air line. Its length and width dimensions are close to those of the 11-inch MacBook Air. It sports a 12-inch display by slimming the extra space on both sides of the keyboard found on previous MacBooks. That 12-inch screen is a Retina display, sporting a resolution of 2304 x 1440. It’s powered by a 5-watt Intel Core M processor clocked at up to 1.3GHz, which means that the laptop doesn’t need a fan.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks during the Apple event in San Francisco on March 9, 2015.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks during the Apple event in San Francisco on March 9, 2015.

The new MacBook, simply called MacBook, sports a large trackpad using the taptic engine technology Apple is also using for its watches, and an edge-to-edge keyboard with a new mechanism that allows the laptop to be thinner. The taptic engine should enable new forms of touch interfaces, such as the ability to press harder to, say, bring up a Wikipedia entry or fast forward more quickly.

The new MacBook is apparently a new line of notebooks. It “joins” the existing MacBook Air, and MacBook Pros are getting the new upgraded taptic force trackpad as well.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new MacBook during an Apple special event on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new MacBook during an Apple special event on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Apple event preview: Apple Watch, Apple Watch, maybe a MacBook

On Monday, Apple is holding a special event starting at 10 a.m. PT. Gigaom will be there to liveblog, and you can stream the video online from a Mac or iOS device.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t provide an agenda for its special events, so we had to come up with one.

apple-invite

Apple Watch price and availability

If Apple wants us to buy these smartwatches it’s been playing up the past five months, it’s going to have to tell us how much they cost and when Apple fans can start lining up. Apple Watch will go on sale in April, so this event will be Apple’s best chance to convince the public its worth the price.

We know the least expensive Apple Watch will start at $349. But there are three separate Apple Watch lines: “Watch,” “Watch Sport,” and “Watch Edition.” Watch Edition is made out of 18-karat gold. And each watch has optional bands sold separately. So there’s a lot of range for different prices.

Speculation has centered on the Watch Sport being $349, with the stainless steel Watch coming in somewhere between $500 and $1000. The Watch Edition is the hardest to pinpoint, with guesses starting around $1,000 and going up to $10,000 or more.

Apple Watch. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

You might even be able to pre-order an Apple Watch. We’ll learn on Monday.

Apple Watch apps

Apple has been holding secretive sessions with third-party developers in what sounds like a internet-free bunker in Apple’s headquarters, according to reports from Bloomberg and 9to5Mac. Developers reportedly can’t bring in anything but a hard drive and can’t take anything out of the room, but in return, they have been able to fine-tune their apps on real Apple Watch prototype hardware.

The Bloomberg report named BMW, Facebook, Starwood Hotels and United Airlines as companies participating in the secret lab sessions, but 9to5Mac put the number at “hundreds of iOS developers.”  CEO Tim Cook has said Apple Watch will be able to start a car, and Starwood wants to use Apple Watch as a hotel room key, so to show off those features, Apple will probably pull a few of its partners up on stage.

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces Apple Pay with the Apple Watch.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces Apple Pay with the Apple Watch. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

9to5Mac pointed to Electronic Arts, Uber, Dropbox, and Match.com as participants in secretive Apple Watch trials. Apple will also mention ApplePay and explain how it works on the watch and how many partners it’s signed up. Apple could also pull one of its HomeKit partners to explain how Apple Watch works in a smart home.

Apple’s also has at least two of its own apps, Fitness and Workout, that it will need to explain to the world, in addition to improvements in the Health app.

Jony Ive in a white box

One major question about Apple Watch is what’s underneath the hood. Apple has said the S1, a “system in package,” is powering the smartwatch. I don’t expect Apple to go too much into specs on Monday — maybe it will reveal the Apple Watch has 8GB of onboard storage — but we’ll certainly get a little more clarity than we had before.

Apple Watch Internals

More likely is that Apple will be making the case that even in the absence of a “killer app” or compelling reason to purchase an Apple Watch, there are enough uses and it’s a good enough timepiece that you want it anyway. That discussion will likely focus on features and functions, like its low-power mode and “heart rate glance,” a way to check heart rate on the watch quickly.

Most likely, Apple design guru Jony Ive will deliver that part of that story, through a video, since he doesn’t like public speaking. And as is Ive’s wont, that video will probably take place in a white box.

Here’s Ive’s video from a white box from last September, when he introduced the Apple Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwpGU3aUYao

iOS update

The new iPhone 6 is displayed during an Apple special event.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The new iPhone 6 is displayed during an Apple special event. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It’s been almost confirmed that Apple Watch will require a companion iOS app for changing settings and controlling the watch. Since no such app is currently installed on iPhones, the next iOS update, 8.2, will likely have support for pairing with an Apple Watch, or the companion app could be accessible from the iTunes App Store.

Since Apple will have to push an update to Apple Watch users, it might give some stage time to other tweaks in iOS 8.2. However, the major iOS update will likely be revealed this June, at Apple’s developer’s conference.

One more thing?

If there’s a surprise Apple product announcement at Monday’s event, it’s unlikely to be the long-rumored bigger iPad or a new Apple TV.

silvergray-copy

Based on recent rumors, there’s a chance that Apple’s radically redesigned 12-inch MacBook might be a topic of discussion on Monday. The device is tipped to use the new USB Type-C port, and could be even thinner than the current MacBook Air. It’s not a sure thing, but if you’re in the market for a new laptop, perhaps you should wait until after Monday’s announcements.

At the very least, a new MacBook would be a better surprise than a free U2 album.

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Mobile recap: iOS Android Wear; Pebble Time Steel; Huawei Nexus

In the final run up before the Apple Watch launches, an interesting rumor made the rounds: Google is allegedly working on bringing Android Wear watch support to iPhones. On the surface that may sound odd: Why would Google even consider such a thing?

Google Play Music Android Wear main

The reality is: [company]Google[/company] has long supported [company]Apple[/company]’s mobile OS with nearly all of its services and there are plenty of examples of that. There are iOS apps for Google Play Music and Movies, for example, as well as Gmail, Google Voice, Google Search (which adds Google Now contextual notifications to iOS), Drive, Maps and more. About the only main Google app that still remains Android only I can think of is Google Keep.

Granted, Android Wear is a different case since this is Google’s smartwatch platform. There’s precedent here, however: Google eventually added Google Glass support for iPhone users. I think, as a result, it would make sense for Google to bring an Android Wear to iOS. It would open up Android Wear watch sales to a completely new segment of potential users and allow Google to keep gathering valuable information from iPhone owners.

pebble time steel

Such cross-platform support is something that the Pebble smartwatch enjoys. And if that wasn’t enough, the new Pebble Time edition now has a stainless steel option. Pebble introduced the Pebble Time Steel this week, allowing those who already backed the plastic model a chance to upgrade. The metal version will cost $299 when it arrives in June but early backers can reserve one for $249.

Months later is the typical time of year when Google introduces a new Nexus handset and there’s been buzz this week that Huawei will get the nod to design and produce it. If that happens, it will be the first time a China-based company was tapped for the Nexus phone since the line was introduced in 2010. Previous Nexus-makers include HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola.

huawei watch official

Huawei has even dropped hints about any future phones it might sell in the U.S., saying they will come with “stock Android,” which is a key feature of Nexus phones. Of course, Google wants its own flagships to be high-quality, good-looking devices and Huawei has proven itself in that area if the company’s new Huawei Watch is any indication.

Why Apple Watch apps should be usable in 10 seconds or less

As Apple reportedly prepares developers to ready the first batch of Apple Watch apps, the company is setting a guideline: Try to keep your app usable in 10 seconds. That tidbit comes from Bloomberg in advance of next week’s “Spring Forward” Apple event where the new watch is expected to launch.

Tim Cook Unveils iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

[company]Apple[/company] CEO Tim Cook said in September that the Apple Watch would require a daily recharge, so I’m not at all surprised by the guideline as it almost seems obvious to me from that perspective and also based on my own smartwatch usage experience since 2004. The more you use an smartwatch app, the more of that little battery inside the watch will get used by the screen, processor and other components, of course.

But it’s worth a mention because of January reports on the expected Apple Watch battery life. Sources then told 9t05Mac’s Mark Gurman that Apple was shooting for between 2.5 and 4 hours of active run time on the watch, with 19 hours of mixed use. The key bit here is “active time” because the more you use the watch — any smartwatch, not just the Apple Watch — the more strain you put on the small battery. Here’s how Apple is trying to manage that with app developers, according to Bloomberg:

A big challenge for Apple and its developers is building applications that are useful without being annoying. Apple has recommended that developers be judicious about interrupting people with constant alerts that will buzz their wrist or drain the battery. If desktop computers can be used for hours at a time, and smartphones for minutes, the watch is being measured in seconds. Apple is suggesting developers design their applications to be used for no longer than 10 seconds at a time.

I think the strategy here isn’t just to maximize battery life, though. If you haven’t used a smartwatch, let me explain.

These wearable devices are best suited for short bursts of information and interaction. Once that burst becomes too engaging and takes up more time, the benefit is lost; at a certain point, you actually get a richer experience by handling the activity on your phone.

Apple Watch dial crown

How long should that burst be? In my experience 10 seconds is a pretty decent threshold and allows for a margin of error of a few more seconds. Get beyond 15 seconds on any smartwatch and you probably would have been better off using a phone in the first place, where you have a larger screen, more information and additional room for interaction or other features from an app.

Put another way: Do you want to be fiddling with a device on your wrist for a minute or more? Why bother when you can probably accomplish more in less time with the smartphone you have with out.

Is Apple trying to manage expectations for the Apple Watch battery life with its reported developer guideline here? Sure it is, but that’s only part of the reason. Providing a compelling user experience is the other. If Apple Watch developers deliver on providing very useful functions in 10 seconds or less, Apple can offer both benefits — a smartwatch that will get you through the day with the convenience of glanceable notifications and application functions.

Preview 27 different Apple Watch apps in your browser

Apps that run on Apple Watch will likely be a major focus of Apple’s upcoming event on March 9, but if you can’t wait that long, check out App Advice’s new website, WatchAware, which is collecting Apple Watch mockups and putting them on a single page.

The site has 27 Apple Watch previews. Although the page feels interactive, most of the time, it’s just playing a canned video inside of a Apple Watch mockup when your mouse skims over the image. It’s not an emulator. But it does offer the suggestion of what an app could feel like when it’s running on an actual Apple Watch.

WatchAware screengrab

Although most developers don’t have access to Apple Watch yet, Apple has released a set of developer’s tools called WatchKit, as well as human interaction guidelines. So these apps likely already resemble the form they’ll take when Apple Watch is released. They appear to hew to the best practices Apple itself is suggesting, complete with separate interactions for glances, notifications and full-blown apps.

Some of the apps featured were announced last fall when Apple revealed the Apple Watch. Those previews are using Apple-provided imagery. Other previews have been contributed by third-party developers, including FeedWrangler, Deliveries, Todoist, and, yes, a fart app.

Apple's Maps preview on Apple Watch

Apple’s Maps preview on Apple Watch

If Apple Watch ends up being a hit, I suspect many of the interactions users will employ on a daily basis have yet to be invented. The first iPhone didn’t have a pull-to-refresh interaction, for instance. One day, this batch of previews could be an interesting time capsule: What we thought Apple Watch apps would look like before we actually had them on our wrists.

Check it out here.

Report: Google preparing iOS app for Android Wear smartwatches

Right now, you need an Android phone to use an Android Wear smartwatch. But according to a report from French technology website 01net, Android Wear might be going cross-platform with an iOS app, possibly launching at Google’s annual developer conference in May.

When Apple Watch launches in the next month, it will require an iPhone to work. Android compatibility is extremely unlikely. If Google were to allow Android Wear smartwatches to work with iOS devices, that would be a significant difference between the platforms, and some users would see it as a reason to pick an Android Wear device over an Apple Watch. At the very least, it would expand the market of possible Android Wear users.

Last year, Android Wear senior product manager Jeff Chang hinted that Google was contemplating cross-platform compatibility for Android Wear but had run into technical obstacles. “It’s not always completely up to us right? There are technical constraints, API constraints so we are trying really hard, ” Chang told the Huffington Post.

Currently, we have to treat this report as a rumor. Although 01net is a reputable website, it doesn’t cite a source — only “according to our information” (selon nos informations) — and warns that it hasn’t been confirmed.

Still, it’s fun to imagine a time in the near future when your Moto 360 could talk to your iPhone 6. Recently, a developer who goes by MohammadAG hacked his Android Wear smartwatch to talk directly to an iPhone using Apple’s notification services. Although it was more of a concept than a working Android Wear solution for iOS, it showed that it’s possible. Given that Google has native iOS support for many of its products, it wouldn’t surprise me if Google is working to bring Android Wear beyond Android. Let’s see it happen, Google.

LG’s LTE-packing smartwatch drops Android Wear for its own OS

Here’s a bit of a surprise: In addition to the Android Wear version of the G Watch Urbane, LG is prepping a version that doesn’t run Google’s smartwatch operating system, instead swapping it out for something called the “LG Wearable Platform.”

The LG Watch Urbane LTE will also have a few hardware features not found in LG’s Android Wear devices, including LTE support. Some smartwatches have had 3G radios, like Samsung’s Gear S, but LTE is new in a watch. It’s also packing NFC and GPS.  The specs the new model shares with LG’s recently announced Android Wear G Watch Urbane includes a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, an optical heart rate monitor, and the same 1.3-inch OLED circle-shaped touchscreen.

Watch-Urbane

One major question is how much battery life the LTE modem will eat up. LG has included a 700mAh battery in the Watch Urbane LTE; a significantly larger one than the 410mAh battery included with the G Watch R and the G Watch R Urbane. We’ll see if the bigger battery leads to the Watch Urbane LTE being thicker, heavier or hotter than its Android Wear siblings.

If you’ve been following LG’s smartwatch ambitions, another question is whether the “LG Wearable Platform” is a version of webOS, an operating system LG has been tweaking with mixed success since buying its team from HP in 2013. The Verge is reporting that LG has said LG Wearable Platform isn’t webOS, but CNET says that someone “familiar with the product” indicates that it is based on webOS. The Watch Urbane LTE does look a lot like the webOS smartwatch LG previewed as part of a demonstration for Audi cars, including three physical buttons on the right side, but there are slight differences.

Here’s what LG says those buttons do:

Three physical buttons on the right side of the smartwatch allows for easy access to a number of functions without having to swipe through multiple menu screens. The top button accesses the Quick Setting menu where the user can check and adjust battery usage, brightness, volume and connection settings. The main center button switches between the watchface and list of installed apps. The bottom button acts as the “Back” function when depressed quickly but becomes a safety beacon when long-pressed, automatically dialing any preset phone number as well as sending the location coordinates of the wearer.

LG hasn’t provided screenshots or more information about the operating system, but it sounds like the Watch Urbane LTE will support push-to-talk, making it into a wrist-worn walkie-talkie, as well as other basic communications like calls and texts. LG hasn’t mentioned price, app support, a date when it will be available, or what carriers anywhere will be supporting its LTE modem. Those kind of details will become clearer when LG officially debuts the device later this week.

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720,000 Android Wear smartwatches shipped in second half of 2014

Smartwatches might get a lot of attention, but it’s important to remember they’re still a new product category, and not a real commercial force yet. Case in point: A new report from Canalys indicates that only 720,000 Android Wear devices were shipped after the platform launched in June, and those devices had the might of Google and some of the world’s biggest hardware makers behind them.

According to Canalys, which drew data from its internal quarterly market tracking service, the Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch was the “clear leader” among the six Android Wear smartwatches currently available. The report also noted that the round LG G Watch R performed significantly better than its squarer sibling.

Although 720,000 might seem like a large number, let’s put this in perspective: It really appears that mainstream consumers don’t want or don’t understand why they should want a smartwatch. It’s also worth noting that iPhone owners can’t use Android Wear devices, which eliminates a lot of potential customers.

Apple said recently it sold 34,000 iPhones per hour during the past quarter — which means it sold more iPhones on average in a single day than six different Android Wear smartwatches did in half a year. Pebble has sold 1 million smartwatches over the life of the company, including an estimated 600,000 units between last March and December, but remember, Pebble is a startup. It used to be a Kickstarter and it didn’t get revealed at Google’s annual developer’s conference.

Also consider that the Canalys numbers measure units shipped, not units sold. It’s possible there are a few Samsung Gear Live smartwatches languishing on Best Buy shelves waiting for a clearance sale.

The smartwatch market will change markedly once Apple enters it in earnest. Nobody really knows how many smartwatches Apple is going to sell when Apple Watch launches sometime this April. Estimates range from a few million in its first year all the way up to 30 million units shipped in 2015. Apple inspires such dedication that there are going to be people who purchase — even line up for — Apple Watch, regardless of features, performance, or reviews, and this latest data point indicates it’s very possible that there will be more Apple Watches sold in its first day of availability than the total number of smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear platform.