Apple shows what its watch can do in new video tutorials

The company touts key features of its smartwatch in four short video clips released a week before presales start for the pricey device.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
4 min read

Apple has released four new videos on its site to give consumers details about Apple Watch. Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET

Apple is giving us a detailed look at some of the main features of Apple Watch, a week before presales start for the device.

The company on Friday released four new videos on its website that give a general overview of the device and show off "Digital Touch," "Faces" and "Messages" on Apple Watch. The videos are similar to the spots Apple created in the past to introduce the iPhone. They feature closeup shots of Apple Watch on a user's wrist as the person goes through features and tutorials on how to use the device.

Previous Apple Watch videos have tended to focus on the design aspects of the wearable, highlighting the sort of sex appeal of the gadget instead of providing many concrete details for potential buyers. But the four videos introduced Friday instead act as tutorials, giving consumers detailed information.

"Welcome to Apple Watch," the voice-over says in the Welcome video. "It's our most personal device yet because it's the first one you actually wear. It works seamlessly with your iPhone, but it's a whole new kind of experience."

The company hinted on its website that it will release more tutorials in the future, including covering Maps, Siri, phone calls, music, Apple Pay and Apple's Activity and Workout fitness apps.

On April 10 at 12:01 a.m. PT, Apple will start taking preorders for its first smartwatch, which costs from $349 for the basic Apple Watch Sport version to $17,000 for the gold, premium Apple Watch Edition. The device, Apple's first new product under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook, will hit Apple Stores and some department stores April 24.

Apple on Friday confirmed to CNET that all Apple Watch sales for the indefinite future will be made through a reservation system. Apple has no plans at this time to allow you to stop into a store and walk out with an Apple Watch, even after the device officially hits the market. That means there won't be the long lines that have become common with every iPhone launch over the past few years. The only Apple Watches that will be available for purchase in retail stores are the devices that have been reserved online. You can sign up for a fitting to try on Apple Watch starting April 10.

Thousands, if not millions, of consumers are sure to buy Apple Watch simply because it's a new device made by Apple. But to attract countless others, Apple must explain why they actually need a smartwatch. Time has shown that simply having a smart device strapped to the wrist isn't something consumers want, with gadget makers from Pebble to Samsung struggling to find mass market acceptance for their early efforts. Apple is counting on app makers, as well as features such as its Apple Pay mobile payments service, to give consumers reasons to buy its smartwatch.

Apple Watch also features new modes of communication and navigation not found in other Apple devices, which could attract consumers but also present a learning curve. By releasing videos with detailed information about some key Apple Watch features, the company is trying to not only give consumers a reason to buy the device but also ensure they don't get frustrated with Apple Watch and stop using it -- a problem that has plagued most early wearables.

Apple's first smartwatch comes in three different models, including the $349 Apple Watch Sport. James Martin/CNET

The Welcome video gives an overview of Apple Watch features and provides brief how-tos on things like activate the watch (lift your wrist), access information (swiping up to see Glances, the items accessed most often; and swiping down to see your missed notifications), and use the digital crown button on the side of the watch.

The Digital Touch video highlights the new ways users can communicate with other Apple Watch owners. Pressing the side button takes you to your friends list. You can add people to the list through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone. To choose a friend, you turn the digital crown. You can then make a call or send a message. If the friend has an Apple Watch, you can send what Apple calls a "digital touch." That could be a sketch you drew with your finger, taps you make on the watch (that your friend then feels), or your digital heartbeat, made by resting two fingers on the screen.

The Faces video gives you information about how you can customize the watch by changing the watch face. To access new faces, you press and hold on the display of the watch, bringing up the gallery. You then swipe right until you find the face you want, such as Mickey Mouse. Holding your finger on the face when selecting it lets you customize it, such as making a more detailed display or changing the colors.

Finally, the Messages video shows how you can respond instantly to items without pulling out your iPhone. When you get a message, Apple Watch taps you so you don't miss it. Raising your wrist will display the message, and you can either tap "reply" on the screen to respond or lower your wrist to dismiss the alert.

You then use the digital crown to sort through "smart replies" tailored to your conversation. For instance, if a friend asks what you want to eat, possible replies include "sushi," "pizza" or "not sure." You can also preset your own quick replies through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone or dictate responses using Siri on the watch. You can send the Siri-generated reply as an audio or text message. Instead of sending a text reply, you can instead send an animated emoji of a smiley face, heart or hand.

To send a new message to someone else, you press the digital crown to go to the home screen and then tap the messages icon. Pressing firmly on the screen will bring up an option to start a new message. You then add a contact and compose your message.

Apple Watch keeps up with the times (pictures)

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