5 Coolest Features of the Apple Watch

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Apple revealed its first smartwatch today—the Apple Watch—with much fanfare. It has done away with the ‘i’ branding for its first major new device in years, but unveiled a device that represents a “new chapter in Apple’s story,” as CEO Tim Cook put it. There were a ton of different features and designs, all of which will hopefully make it worth the $349 price tag.

Cook and co. didn’t touch on the battery life of the device but it won’t be released until early 2015, so more questions will need to be answered in the coming week and the battery is top of that list. Nevertheless, the Apple Watch has many features to entice Apple fans and developers alike. Here are five that really caught our eye:

1. The “Digital Crown”

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During his speech, Tim Cook made mention of navigating wearables and that it simply wasn’t good enough to shrink down a phone and stick it on the user’s wrist. It needed to be more practical than that, which is where the Digital Crown comes in. It’s a small wheel on the side of the device, which allows the user to zoom and scroll without obstructing the small screen with their fingers. It’s also a handy way of returning to the home screen by pressing in on the crown.

2. Health and Fitness

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Health and fitness has been the primary target for wearables, as proven by Android Wear and while it’s been a little behind the curve on this one, Apple isn’t letting itself get left behind completely. The Apple Watch is laden with several health and fitness monitoring features including a gyroscope and heart rate monitor. You’ll also be able to keep tabs on your activity throughout your exercise routine. These aren’t shockingly new features or anything but they bring Apple up to speed on the wearable and health race. Also, just a couple of days before the big event Apple made some changes to its privacy policy, which now forbids app developers from selling health information to third parties, showing the company is pretty serious about this for the long term.

3. Compatibility with Apple Pay

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After the iPhone 6 was revealed, Apple unveiled Apple Pay to the world, the company’s mobile payments platform that stores encrypted payment details and neither Apple nor the cashier will know what you’ve purchased. Many of the presentations showed Apple Pay being used with the iPhone 6 but it will be compatible with the watch too. This means quicker touch payments in stores using only your wrist. It’s not an entirely new venture with apps like LevelUp for Android Wear already out there but it’s a significant step for Apple to include the feature in the watch if it wants a wide uptake of Apple Pay amongst its users.

4. Customization Through Different Sizes, Designs and Bands

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The new iPhone wasn’t the only device tinkering with different sizes as the Apple Watch will be available in various forms. Cook stated that the watch can be just as much fashion as it is tech and that includes six different bands but perhaps most interestingly, the watch is available in three different editions—the standard Apple Watch with two sizes, the Apple Watch Sport, and an 18 karat gold edition. It was a little surprising to see that the Apple Watch didn’t have a round face seeing as the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R have been the talk of smartwatches of late, but the different designs and styles from Apple show it has some grasp on presenting different looking devices that people will actually like to wear.

5. Other Control Functions Mean Many Possibilities

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Apple covered a lot of ground with its presentation of the Apple Watch and skimmed over a couple of other interesting points, which we’re likely to hear more about in the coming days. Tim Cook made mention controlling his Apple TV using the watch, meaning it will be a remote control too while the company announced a partnership with SPG Hotels that will allow guests to open their room doors with a wave of the watch against the door. There’s no word from SPG yet on when this feature will be rolled out to its hotels but it’s indicative of the many uses that app developers can tinker with when they get their hands on WatchKit.

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