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The Apple Watch Explained

Pre-orders for Apple’s innovative Smartwatch go live today, but what does it actually do? Whether you’re a sceptic or are dying to get your hands on one, we’ve broken down the key features and new apps it boasts, highlighted some of the devices it’s set to replace and shed some light on why this timepiece is so much more than your average watch.

The watch comes in six different versions – the classic Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition that come in two sizes, depending on whether you prefer a larger or smaller device. Some take the style of a classic Apple device – clean, modern lines in neutral colours, while others look a whole lot more like a regular (and rather chic) wristwatch.   

It has a lot of the same apps as your iPhone, but uses them in unique new ways. For example you can make and receive calls from your wrist (with a mic and speaker) and the watch will scan messages coming in and work out if it can generate an easy response for you to tap. For instance if someone asks you ‘salmon or chicken for dinner?’, you can tap either ‘salmon’ or ‘chicken’ as a reply in a split second.

You can use Maps to find your way around easily, Music to control your playlists and listen through wireless Bluetooth headphones (sorry iPod), check the weather and scroll through your Photo Library.

It will only notify you about the important things, saving you time in your day. Text messages, emails, social media and your calendar can all be tailored so that only the crucial messages or important people get through to you. Notifications come in the form of gentle vibrations which you can glance at to get the gist of what’s going on or to be reminded of your next important appointment.

You can use it to track your health and wellbeing. The three rings on the Activity app tracks your all-day activity and motivates you to sit less, move more and get some exercise. Plus you can get real-time stats during your favourite workouts. All this combines to create personalised activity goals for you from calories burned and amount of exercise completed, to hours standing up in order to keep you active. It’ll even tell you to get up if you’ve been sat down too long.

Cool new features include the app Apple Watch a viewfinder for the iSight camera on your iPhone, so you can take a perfect selfie or join the group shot. See a live preview of what your iPhone sees, then snap the photo or set the timer on the camera. And with Apple TV you can control your TV straight from your wrist, so you never need to worry about losing the remote again.

The Verdict: Though it has lots of potential, it might be worth waiting before you invest in an Apple Watch until the second or third versions are released. Reviews on the current model are decidedly mixed, with The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo saying it takes "days of adjusting” to make the most of the interface, and Re/code’s Lauren Goode noting the device did not last as long as other wearables.

However, Apple fans will love it as a luxury gadget that can work alongside (but not yet replace) their smartphone. The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern found the watch most useful as a timepiece... "Going out with it has given me added confidence. It looks nice. The steel body and mesh band match almost any colour I wear admittedly, mostly black”, while Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue vouched for its time-saving abilities, “You could argue that the Apple Watch helps to streamline your consciousness. Once you've customised who and what is allowed to tap your wrist to get your attention, it truly does help to filter out the noise of the world that tries to reach you through your phone”.

The bottom line is... if you’re thinking of investing in a smart watch this is the one to do it with, just hold off splurging until its Apps have been fully finessed.