New Apple Watch Manages Your Fitness, Connects With Social Media, Gives You Directions — And, Oh Yes, Tells You the Time

The new Apple Watch can manage your fitness, monitor your heartbeat, plan your diet, check your stocks, connect with social media, give you directions, unlock the door of your hotel room — and, oh yes, tell you the time.

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Introduced yesterday by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Apple Watch represents the next “product revolution” at Apple and is seen as a game-changer in the burgeoning wearable-tech category.

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The high-end version, called “Apple Watch Edition,” is available in 18-karat yellow or rose gold and features a sapphire crystal, ceramic back, leather band and magnetic clips.

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It also comes in a standard model and more rugged sports model, with options for bands made of colorful rubber or stainless steel. The watches are available in two face sizes, 38mm and 42mm.

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Because the face is a teeny Retina display, the user can choose on the fly between multiple watch faces, including a throwback Mickey Mouse motif or a moon-phase astronomy-themed version. Packed inside the watch case is a heart-rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, photosensor, speaker and vibrating mechanism that cues the user to make a turn when using a map app. Already on the way are third-party apps from companies such as Nike, BMW, Pinterest, Facebook and others.

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Although the watch face can act as a touch-screen, the Apple Watch includes a primary interface called a “digital crown.” Resembling the crown of a conventional watch, the digital version can be manipulated to control zoom and scrolling, and to make selections from a cloud of “bubble” apps on the screen.

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The Apple Watch, which has a starting price of $349 and will be available in early 2015, cannot stand alone. It must be paired with an iPhone 5 or higher. Because it can leverage the power of the iPhone, the Apple Watch can commandeer such functions as GPS, Wi-Fi and the Siri digital assistant.

The Apple Watch features an innovative wireless magnetic charger that clips to the back of the device. Pricing for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition has yet to be disclosed.

Twenty-five percent of American adults plan to buy a so-called “wearable” tech device in the next year, and 42% are interested in a wrist-based device, according Forrester, an independent technology and market research company.

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