Preparing for the Apple Watch

During a recent earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the Apple Watch will ship in April of 2015. While we wait, fantasizing about our lives as Dick Tracy, there are a few things we can do to reduce setup time once the device is in our hot little hands (or on your hot little wrists, as it were). Let's get started.

Save your pennies

Full pricing details are unknown. Apple has revealed that Watch will start at $349, though exactly which watch is the "base" model is unclear. We do know there will be two sizes available -- 38mm and 42mm -- across three collections: Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition. Each collection features several models with varying materials and so on. For example, there are 10 models in the Sport collection.

It's safe to assume that the 38mm aluminum model will be the entry product, though we're not sure which collection -- Watch, Sport or Edition -- will be from. That said, we think it'll be from the Sport collection.

Pricing comparisons

Here's a look at the cost of popular smart watches from manufacturers other than Apple, as of February 2015. All prices are USD and accurate at the time of this writing.

Apple's Watch isn't inexpensive, nor should we expect it to be. Just like the iPhone is a fully-capable computer that happens to make phone calls, the Watch is a computer you wear on your wrist. Start saving now.

Pick a watch face

Apple knows that a watch is a very personal device, and it's offering a great variety of customizable faces to choose from. Browse the options now to find one (or two) that you like. To help you along, we've described the major categories below:

  1. Chronograph, which resembles analog stopwatches, in both looks and functionality.
  2. Color, a minimal layout defined by a single, bold color. And yes, there are several colors to choose from.
  3. Modular, a grid design that features several "complications," or additional bits of information like sunrise, alarm status and more.
  4. Utility, which is a traditional, customizable face with room for three complications.
  5. Mickey Mouse. Well, it's Mickey Mouse. Pretend you're Robert Langdon and run around with Mickey on your wrist. The mouse's arms note the hours and minutes, while his foot taps out the seconds.
  6. Simple is just that. If you're a no-frills kind of person, this might be appealing.
  7. Motion is the opposite of Simple. It features the time plus one of several random animal animations: a fluttering butterfly, a swimming jellyfish or a blooming flower.
  8. Solar will appeal to weather-watchers. It notes your location and traces the sun's relative position in the sky.
  9. Finally, astronomy one-ups Solar by letting you track the position of our solar system's planets, sun and moon over time as you turn the Watch's crown. The image of the Earth, which is Solar's predominate feature, slowly rotates throughout the course of the day.

Did you find one that you like? Even if your current choice doesn't last long -- we expect to swap watch faces out frequently -- it's good to have that initial decision made.

Familiarize yourself with major features

Here's what we know the Watch will do, (major features) and what that means for you, the customer.

Time piece

You'll really know what time it is. No really. Apple has gone all-out on making this thing super accurate. Apple says it keeps time "...within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard." Also, like your iPhone, it adjusts to local time zones as you travel.

Health and Fitness

Track your steps, calories burned, time spent exercising/being active, and even time spent standing vs. sitting. The Watch does all of the recording for you, so all you need to do is get a move on. You can set goals, track your progress and share data with Apple's Health app. It's a compelling way to stay on top of your fitness goals, and we're eager to see it in action.


Apple Watch lets you send and receive messages, calls and mail. When you tag certain contacts as "Friends," you can tap to reach them via call, message or some of the unique methods of communication that Watch offers, like Sketch, Tap and Heartbeat.

Before your Watch arrives, make sure you've got nice contact photos chosen for the privileged few in your contacts list. You'll want to see their lovely faces on you Watch's screen, not some placeholder image.

Consider peripherals

Just like the iPod, iPhone and iPad before it, the Apple Watch should generate a whole cottage industry of peripherals and add-ons. Today, Apple offers a MFi licensing program to developers who want a literal seal of approval on their iOS-compatible devices. Approved applicants receive permission to use the "Made for..." logo on their products, as well as technical support, tools and documentation to ensure a compatible product. As a customer, you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you've bought a third-party product that Apple apporoves of.

As of this writing, there isn't a similar program in place for Watch peripherals. We suspect there will be eventually, so keep that in mind if you're really concerned with getting Apple-aproved accessories. In the meantime, here are a few products that are on our radar. If you find one you really like, perhaps you'll have a nice goodie waiting at home on launch day.

Charging Stand for Apple Watch by DODOCase. This great-looking stand from DODOcase serves as an elegant place to leave your Watch while not in use, and it charges the device to boot. While final pricing isn't available as of this writing (DODOcase suggest that the MSRP will be between US$60 and $80), pre-orders are underway. There's even a leather monogram option.

The Composure Charger Dock. Here's another nice-looking charger dock for your watch. Just slip Apple's charger cable underneath and rest your Watch on top. Yeah, it's pretty much a slab of wood with a hole in the bottom, but it is pretty.

The HEDock. Wood not your style? Consider the all-aluminum HEDock (suggested MSRP $49, on sale for $29 as of this writing). This upright charger features brushed aluminum and a urethane coating to keep your device scratch-free.

What about straps, full waterproofing options or other accessories? You can be sure they'll hit the market, but a lot of manufacturers are taking a "wait and see" approach.

Prepare for Apple Pay

Apple introduced Apple Pay with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It offers a secure way to shop with you iPhone 6, 6 Plus and soon, your Apple Watch. Confirm that your bank is a participating issuer with this table, and then browse a list of brick-and-mortar retailers that support Apple's technology here:

Aeropostale American Eagle Outfitters Babies ‘R’ Us Bi-Lo BJ’s Wholesale Club Bloomingdale’s Champs Sports Chevron and Texaco, including retail stores like ExtraMile The Disney Store Duane Reade Foot Locker, including Kids Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, House of Hoops, and Run by Foot Locker Footaction Harveys Supermarket Jewel Osco Macy’s McDonald’s Meijer Nike Office Depot Panera Bread Petco and Unleashed by Petco RadioShack Sephora Shaws Six:02 Sports Authority Staples Star Market Subway Toys ‘R’ Us United Supermarkets Walgreens Wegmans Whole Foods Market Winn-Dixie

Get to know the types of Watch apps

Ever since the Watch was first introduced, developers have been busy building the apps that you'll run on it. These fall into three broad categories:

  1. Notifications. These alerts pop up to inform the wearer and allow him or her to take action, like respond to a message or answer a phone call.
  2. Glances. This is a quick display of information, like news or baseball scores. Alarms fall into this category. Glances will tip you off on something, but not necessarily require a response.
  3. Full-on apps. Here's where we get to see developers' imaginations at work.

Apple's Watch is an eagerly-anticipated piece of tech, to put it mildly. We expect long lines and many hours spent fiddling, playing and delighting in Apple's new goodie. Hopefully this article helped you prep for that day.