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Apple debuts smartwatch, gold MacBook, more

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. is expected to unveil more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment. Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Make calls, read full emails, control music, keep up with your workout. CEO Tim Cook says you can do it all from your wrist with Apple Watch.

Scheduled to hit the market in April, industry watchers are eager to see if Apple's version will be the tipping point for the sluggish smartwatch market. There was similar skepticism whenApple released the iPad in 2010, yet the company has successfully sold millions and its popularity has shaken up the PC market.

The stakes are high for a company that just dislodged AT&T as one of the 30 stocks comprising the venerable Dow Jones industrial average. The watch is the first brand-new device Apple has launched without Steve Jobs.

Cook is directing Apple's big event Monday in San Francisco, unveiling a shiny, skinny and silent MacBook weighing in at just two pounds that the company says is the world's most energy efficient laptop. Apple also has unveiled a new deal between Apple TV and HBO, touted growth in iPhone sales and Apple Pay adoption, and announced a set of tools called ResearchKit to help hospitals and research centers develop apps for patients.

It cut the price of Apple TV by $30 to $69 and is partnering with HBO to offer its stand-alone streaming service, HBO Go, on Apple devices in time for the "Game of Thrones" premiere April 12. It will cost $14.99 monthly. Cook said 2,500 banks are now signed up with ApplePay, which is available in 700,000 retail locations nationwide.

New product highlights:

Apple Watch

The entry-level aluminum model, called Sport, will be aimed at fitness enthusiasts. It will cost $349 for the smaller, 38-millimeter model and $399 for the larger, 42-millimeter model. There will be choices of colors and bands.

The stainless steel edition will start at $549 and go up to $1,049 for the smaller model, depending on the selection of watch band. The larger model will range from $599 to $1,099.

The Apple Watch Edition — the luxury model with 18-karat gold — will be available in limited quantities at select retail stores, for a price of $10,000.

The company will begin taking preorders for the Apple Watch on Apr. 10. It will start selling on April 24 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Apple says the watch will have 18 hours of battery life across a range of activity — which Cook describes as "all day." That's so if you factor in charging it while you sleep, but you wouldn't be able to use sleep-tracking apps overnight.

The watch is charged with a magnetic charger that clicks into place when it's near the back of the watch.

Apple also is releasing an update to its iOS software for iPhones on Monday that includes anApple Watch app. You won't be able to use it yet, but you can see some of the customization options and other features to come.

In addition to phone and music capabilities, the company stressed the fitness features of the watch, which include reminders to start moving when you've been sitting too long. A new Workout app will offer weekly summaries and goal suggestions for the upcoming week. Cook describes it as "having a coach on your wrist." 

Apple tapped supermodel Christy Turlington Burns to try out the Apple Watch and showed video of her running a half marathon wearing the watch.

Technology VP Kevin Lynch demonstrated being able to pay for groceries and other items via Apple Pay integrated into the watch.

Lynch also demonstrated making and receiving calls, getting a boarding pass notification and calling Uber. Lynch pressed the watch's crown to get to the home screen, chose the Uber app and called for a car.

He also showed off how to use the digital touch option to draw a flower picture for his wife as a message.

Apple says developers have been working on thousands of apps since the company released tools in November.

The watch will come with choices of finish and watch faces. It will notify a wearer with a "tap" when a new email has arrived.


The new MacBook, the thinnest and lightest version of its laptop, will be available in silver, space gray and gold finishes. It's just 2 pounds and 24 percent skinnier than the MacBook Air.

Apple is dropping Air from the name and is calling this simply the MacBook. For the first time, the MacBook does not contain a fan and "operates silently," Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said.

Cook says Apple took what it learned from designing iPhones and iPads and "challenged ourselves to reinvent the notebook." Apple says the keyboard is more responsive, and the screen uses 30 percent less energy to offer the same brightness.

The keys on the newly designed keyboard are bigger and backlit with LEDs. The new screen has a 12-inch Retina display, currently available only in the higher-end, heavier MacBook Pro line.

A Force Touch trackpad allows for clicks, fast-forwarding, and more depending on how hard you press. New contoured battery design will allow for "all day battery life."

Apple is dropping many of the connection ports, such as USB, in favor of wireless technology. But when something needs to be connected, Apple is offering a single port that can be used for power charging, display output and accessories. It uses an emerging technology called USB-C.


The company is creating a set of tools called ResearchKit to help hospitals and research centers develop apps for iPhone users to participate in studies.

Apple says it's working with leading researchers to develop apps for studies on diabetes, asthma, Parkinson's disease, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and other ailments. The Parkinson's app, for instance, will monitor patients as they walk 20 steps to detect the progression of the diseases, which affects motor systems.

Apple says it won't see any of the data to ensure privacy. ResearchKit, which will be open source, will be available next month. The first five apps are available today.

This story has been updated.