Apple Watch pricing, the lightest MacBook ever and ResearchKit: Everything that Apple just announced
Everything you need to know about today's Apple announcements.
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Aaaand we're back at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a favorite venue for Apple's announcements, after the more intimate setting of its headquarters for the iPad and company announcements last December. Today the company filled us in on pricing and availability of its new Apple Watch, a brand-new lightest-ever MacBook and a mighty interesting offshoot of HealthKit called ResearchKit.
Apple TV finally gets HBO in the form of a standalone streaming service, HBO Now. It will work with any Apple device, not just Apple TV. You'll be able to get it in early April for $14.99 a month. It also lowered the price on Apple TV to $69 (£59 in the UK and AU$109 in Australia). Plus, it heralded the news with a "="" trailer"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="3ea253e3-732f-4568-b261-11c3991dd103" slug="new-game-of-thrones-trailer-crashes-apple-watch-event" link-text="" section="news" title="New 'Game of Thrones' trailer crashes Apple Watch event" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key"> .
Here are our highlights of the event -- or all our videos, if you prefer.
Of course the big news -- albeit expected from an event named "spring forward" -- are the details on the pricing and availability for the Apple Watch initially announced at Apple's iPhone 6 event in the fall of 2014. Apple trotted out Christy Turlington Burns as the celebrity endorser, the duties of which include a weekly blog on Apple.com.
Though we knew the cheapest model would run $349, we now know that this entry-level model with a 38mm face is the anodized-aluminum Apple Watch Sport (in silver or space gray) with colored, high-performance plastic bands (a 42mm model is $399). A stainless-steel alloy model runs $549 for the 38mm and ranges up to $1,049 depending on the band. A 42mm version of any of them runs $50 more.
And yes, its high-end Watch Edition will cost you $10,000/£8,000/AU$14,000 -- to start. With 18K gold, in limited quantities, available in select retail stores. Preorders start April 10, and you can see them in stores then, and they will ship April 24. Only in select countries, though.
You can direct connect to other Apple Watches through Digital Touch, which will let you send sketches and heartbeats, and customize the watch faces. Since the WatchKit rollout in November, thousands of Watch apps have been developed. Lots of time was spent recapping the myriad things you can do with the watch and how easy it is to use. The company says the battery will last 18 hours.
You thought the Air was thin? Apple reinvented its lightest model. Get ready for the MacBook 2015 (oh, that name isn't going to confuse anyone). It weighs 2 pounds and is 13.1mm thick. It's got an all-metal enclosure, edge-to-edge, reengineered keyboard, an 0.88mm 12-inch Retina Display -- unfortunately at a nonstandard 2,304x1,440 pixels. It uses 30 percent less energy, though. There's a new touchpad, called the Force Touch trackpad with a glass multitouch surface that uses tap feedback (its Taptic engine) rather than clicking and can use pressure -- Force Click -- for control.
Apple's new 12-inch MacBook has Force Touch trackpad and USB-C port (pictures)
It's the first fanless MacBook, but to do that Apple had to use an Intel Core M fifth-generation 1.3GHz CPU and a smaller, denser logic board. Then it filled the rest of the unibody with batteries, and Bluetooth and 802.11ac. But Apple expects it to have no wires; it has a new single USB-C connector that supports everything. You'll see it in silver, space gray and gold. With 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD, it starts at $1,299 and will be available April 10. For the UK and Australia, prices are £1,049 and AU$1,799 for the entry model and £1,299 or AU$2,199 for the upgraded version.
HealthKit has seen uptake in medical research, prompting Apple to coordinate with tons of big players in that community to develop ResearchKit, a really interesting open-source HealthKit offshoot designed to help solve communications issues. Researchers can create apps that turn an iPhone into a diagnostic tool that can send data back to researchers. And before you ask, Apple claims it doesn't see your data. It's going to be released next month.