Ahead of Monday's event, here's what we already know about the Apple Watch

Apple has shown us plenty, but many questions remain

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Six months after introducing Apple Watch, Tim Cook and Apple's executives are just days away from revealing every last detail on the company's first wearable. This Monday in San Francisco, we expect to hear more about everything. What exactly can Apple Watch do beyond what we saw in September? Just how long is the battery life? Is it an accurate fitness tracker? And yes, most important of all, we're finally going to have a much better sense of what you'll pay for one — and when the release date will be.

This is Apple's biggest launch in years. It's the company's first truly new product category since the iPad in 2010, and the first to come under CEO Tim Cook. For these and other reasons, Monday is going to be hugely important. But before we get there, it's worth going over some of the main points we already know about the Apple Watch.

  1. The Apple Watch announcement

    After months of fevered speculation that Apple would enter the wearables market, Apple Watch was officially introduced at the company's September 2014 media event. "We've been working incredibly hard, for a long time, on an entirely new product," said CEO Tim Cook. It was such a momentous occassion that Apple brought back its signature "one more thing" surprise section of the keynote — something the company hadn't done in years.

  2. Three versions of Apple Watch

    There's not just one Apple Watch. The company has unveiled three versions that differ in terms of materials and display durability. Apple Watch Sport is likely to be the entry-level model and features an aluminum build with ionized glass display, much like an iPhone. Moving up to the standard Apple Watch gets you a stainless steel chassis and a nearly scratchproof sapphire-covered display. And then there's the ultra luxurious Apple Watch Edition crafted from 18-karat gold. All three models will be available at launch, though we know next to nothing about pricing. It's a safe bet the Apple Watch Sport will be $350, but expend to spend more for the other models and additional bands. Much more.

  3. It comes in two sizes

    Beyond the three versions, Apple will offer Apple Watch in two distinct sizes: 38mm and 42mm. Most other smartwatch manufacturers (like Motorola) have picked one universal size for their device and offered consumers smaller watch bands to choose from. The two Apple Watch models are otherwise identical in terms of features and design, making this Apple's best attempt at avoiding the problem or "too big" or "too small."

  4. Our first Apple Watch hands-on

    We got our first opportunity to sample Apple Watch just after its high-profile unveling in September. Our takeaway? "There's nothing so immediately striking about the Apple Watch as to seem really, truly groundbreaking." Like Android Wear, it displays your phone's notifications and lets you interact with them. And similar to fitness trackers, it can monitor your heart rate during a workout. But what else is there? Our initial hands-on was in a tightly controlled environment, and we're hoping Monday will offer some more freedom in exploring all that Apple Watch can do.

  5. How you use Apple Watch

    Working with a small screen required Apple to come up with a brand new form of user interaction unique to Apple Watch. The sensitive display can distinguish a press — or "force touch" as Apple calls it — from a simple tap. And since there's no room for pinching or multi-finger gestures, Apple moved much of that functionality (zooming, scrolling lists, etc.) to a physical dial known as the digital crown. Apple has also shown that the watch can open up novel methods of communication like sharing your pulse with another Apple Watch owner. And as always, Apple's Siri assistant will be there to answer your requests for local restaurants, movie times, and dictate your voice replies to text messages. Apple Watch also contains an NFC chip so you can make Apple Pay transactions from your wrist.

  6. iPhone required

    You'll need an iPhone to use most of Apple Watch's features, since Apple's smartphone handles most of the heavy lifting and the "apps" you see on the watch are really powered by iPhone. Apple has said native apps that run entirely on Apple Watch will arrive later this year. But at least to start, the Apple Watch won't do you very much good if you're an Android user. Apple Watch supports iPhone 5 and up, and you'll customize its settings through a companion app coming soon to iOS.

  7. It's shipping in April

    Tim Cook used one of Apple's quarterly earnings calls with investors and the media to announce Apple Watch's release month: April 2015. "Every day, I look forward to that day," he'd said a few months earlier at another of Apple's product events. "We're seeing some incredible innovation," the CEO said, referring to the way app developers are building entirely new software experiences for the wrist. You can expect to see some of those apps demonstrated Monday.

  8. Apple's biggest move into fitness yet

    Apple Watch houses sensors for tracking your pulse and includes built-in apps for setting fitness goals and recording your physical activity each day. No longer is Apple simply giving developers a vehicle — the iPhone — that can showcase third-party fitness software. This is the company's biggest and most significant push yet into improving user health, a mission that CEO Tim Cook said was "very personal" for him upon Apple Watch's unveiling. Each watch contains internal flash storage, so you can listen to music during runs while leaving your phone at home.

  9. You'll charge it every night

    Though official battery life estimates for Apple Watch have yet to be released, CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly mentioned that consumers will be charging the device on a nightly basis — much like a smartphone. Apple has reportedly been working to improve the watch's battery performance in the months leading up to Apple Watch's launch.

  10. There's a low-power mode

    Apple hasn't been able to pull off any battery life miracles, but the company has reportedly built in a "power reserve" mode that will shut off most of Apple Watch's functions aside from displaying the time. It could prove crucial for extending your watch's charge when away from a wall outlet; nothing's worse than staring at a dead smartwatch on your wrist.

  11. You can shower with it

    We've yet to hear exactly how water-resistant Apple Watch is, but Tim Cook has revealed that you'll be fine taking it in the shower. The Apple CEO said he does just that, suggesting that you won't need to worry about the unexpected rain shower or sweaty gym session. As we learned during its unveiling, Apple Watch's main chipset is encapsulated in resin to better protect it against the elements. There might be limits, though; Apple hasn't made any mention of trying to swim while wearing it.

  12. Apple Watch uses inductive charging

    There's no Lightning port anywhere on the Apple Watch like you'd see on an iPhone or iPad. Instead, Apple has built inductive charging capabilities into the product and designed a MagSafe connector that aligns itself and clicks into place when held near the back of Apple Watch. Apple says users don't need to be altogether precise when linking the two — something that could prove important when you're weary before bed.

  13. Fashion is everything

    Apple has made it clear from the very beginning that it views Apple Watch's introduction as a pivotal moment in fashion — not just technology. The first Apple Watch print advertisements came in fashion magazines, and Apple has already showcased the watch in upscale boutiques far outside the company's normal retail domain.

  14. Apple's locking down the gold

    With the Apple Watch Edition expected to cost several thousand dollars, Apple is taking new security precautions to protect the most valuable watches in its collection. According to 9to5Mac, the company will lock its pricey Apple Watch Edition devices in a safe each night before continuing sales the following morning. It's yet another hint at the eye-popping price the Edition model may come in at.

  15. Jony Ive is very proud of Apple Watch

    With Apple's most important product in years fast approaching, design chief Jony Ive has been on a press tour of sorts. He's spent time talking up Apple Watch and sharing more behind-the-scenes details on building Apple's first wearable. In between, Ive has also expressed disgust at Motorola's design philosophy and Toyota cars

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