Apple Watch debut: 8 things to know about the newest smart watch

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Tech fans were lined up early Friday at select stores around the world to become the first to buy the Apple Watch, which has arrived for a select few.

Unless you pre-ordered, though, your options are limited for picking up one of the much-anticipated smart watches.

Apple Stores won't be selling the devices directly yet. Instead, most people will have to order them online — and continue waiting.

As Reuters reports, the only retailers to offer the Apple Watch for sale today are a few high-end boutiques and department stores, including The Corner in Berlin, Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in Tokyo and London, and Maxfield in Los Angeles.

At Maxfield, people were camped out in tents, sleeping bags and blankets early Friday waiting to get in, and the line snaked around the corner of the Melrose Avenue store, KNBC-TV reports:

One of the people who camped out early was Ira Edelman, who said he was eager to let the watch replace his phone for much of his day-to-day use: "Not having to pull out your phone all the time...'Oh, I got a text message,' so you look down and see."

Forbes magazine is already calling the Apple Watch debut "one for the history books" no matter how the watch performs technically, particularly given the volume of sales predicted:

The tech research firm ABIResearch is forecasting that Apple will ship 13.77 million units in 2015. Considering 28.1 million smartwatches of all brands will ship worldwide this year means Apple will immediately grab almost 50 percent of the entire market.

ABI said early indicators suggest there were nearly 1 million pre-orders on April 10, the first day orders were accepted, over two million by the end of that week.

Whether you are lucky enough to nab one today or want to find out more before deciding to buy one, here's what you should know. (Full disclosure: I'm a Macbook user, but I have an Android smartphone, and I don't own a smart watch of any flavor.)

1. Want to see one? Make an appointment

If you're thinking about buying one and want to see it up close, you'll probably want to schedule a try-on appointment. Someone at an Apple Store will answer your questions about the device and help you choose a model.

KPCC put in a call to the Pasadena Apple Store and confirmed they have the watch, but you do have to make an appointment.

If you try one on and like what you see, don't get too attached, though. You still have to order online.

2. 3 (pricey) models to choose from

The standard watch ranges from $549 to $1,099, depending on the wristband, the size of the screen and other build factors. The sport watch is the most affordable, starting at $349 for the 38-millimeter face or $399 for 42-millimeters. The fancy "Edition," the high-end luxury version, ranges from $10,000 to $17,000. Pick your poison.

3. How it compares to other smart watches

Gizmodo offers side-by-side comparisons of the Apple Watch and its competitors, including Android Wear devices. The tech blog review finds that Apple's entry into the market is neck-and-neck, not far ahead as it was with the debut of the iPod and iPhone.

Aside from price, screen resolution, and storage capacity, the Apple Watch is pretty run-of-the-mill from what we've seen from other smartwatches, and in the battery department it's pretty paltry. In fact, the LG G Watch R and the Sony Smartwatch 3 have double the storage capacity of the Apple Watch.

The only watch with less battery life is the Pebble Steel, but it still gets by seven days on a single charge because of its e-paper display. Hopefully hardware optimization with Apple's Watch OS will help curb this alarmingly small battery, but with Apple already saying that you should only expect 18 hours of mixed use, we're not expecting much.

Still, Gizmodo notes that Apple will excel over Android in the same way the iPhone has — in the apps department (CNN boasts having an app that's ready to go now).

See the Gizmodo's comparison chart.

4. Why you might not like it

Nir Eyal, author of "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products," writes that one of the most basic features people expect from a watch is missing from Apple's new gadget:

A basic attribute of any watch is that it allows wearers to see the time all the time. With a regular watch, checking the time couldn't be easier. You only need to glance down to know what time it is — not so with the Apple Watch.

To save battery life, the watch goes dark when it thinks you're not using it. To turn it back on, you have to shake the device with enough momentum to, in Apple's words, "Activate on Wrist Raise."

Eyal notes that smart watch competitor Pebble is already banking on users' dissatisfaction. They're developing a watch with a color e-paper screen that can stay on for up to seven days, and their Kickstarter campaign scored 78,471 backers with a combined pledge of more than $20 million.

Read more from Eyal on what makes a good product and why you'll probably buy an Apple Watch anyway.

5. Is it waterproof?

In Australia, FoneFox.com got its hands on one of the watches and put it through the ringer. The company tested it for use in the shower, shallow water, and even the swimming pool. Watch their video:

Video

Officially, Apple claims its watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7. That means that it can submerged in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, but not that it's strictly waterproof.

Here's Apple's recommendation:

You may, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), in the rain, and while washing your hands. If water splashes on to the watch, wipe it off with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.

But Apple recommends minimizing contact with soap, detergent, acids or acidic foods, and any liquids other than fresh water — that includes swimming pools, seawater, even sunscreen.

In other words: Submerge at your own risk.

6. You can play games on it

The Verge reports a number of games already exist for the Apple Watch, if you can stand staring at your wrist for more than a few minutes.

One such game, Spy Watch, simulates the interaction between secret agent and handler. You play boss to the game's fictional spy by exchanging messages through a series of notifications.

Another game, Rules, connects you to an existing iOS puzzler, though it's still unclear how the Watch version will work. Here's the iOS version:

Video

Check out the Verge for more.

7. What it looks like inside

iFixit, a website that shows people how to tear down and repair popular electronics items (think computers, digital cameras, game consoles, appliances) has already posted a video showing a dissection of the Apple Watch.

If you're the do-it-yourself type and want to get an idea how to repair one yourself (not recommended unless you really know what you're doing), or if you've ever just wondered what a smart watch looks like on the inside, then watch this:

Video

8. How to use an Apple Watch

Finally, if you are going to get one, Associated Press technology writer Anick Jesdanun offers the following tips on how to use it.

SETTING UP

Update your iPhone's software before starting. You need at least iOS 8.2. You also need the password for your Apple ID account.

Select your language on the watch and open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone. Hit "Start Pairing" on both devices. Here's where it gets fun: Use your iPhone camera to photograph the watch animation, which has an embedded code so the phone knows to connect to that specific watch. Follow the prompts on the phone app. At the screen for installing apps, choose "Install All" to get watch versions of apps already on your phone.

It took about 12 minutes for all my apps, contacts and calendar entries to sync. Use that time to watch video tutorials on your phone.

You can adjust watch settings by going to "My Watch" in the phone app. Don't spend too much time at first. See how the watch fits in with your lifestyle. Initially, notifications on the watch will match those on the phone. If that gets annoying, customize the settings so that some notifications go to the phone only. For email, you can designate specific contacts as VIPs and have only their messages reach your watch.

MOTION CONTROL

The watch borrows many gestures and controls from the phone, but that isn't always practical with a smaller screen. Getting used to the changes will take time.

A few tips:

— Lightly press the dial, known as the Digital Crown, to toggle between the watch face and the menu of apps. It's also typically how you exit apps. Double press to get your most recently used app. A hard press gets you Siri, Apple's voice assistant. Turn the dial to zoom, scroll or flip through menus. My instinct was to turn the dial like a knob, but it's easier to slide your finger over it, like rolling the wheel on a toy car.

— The other button gives you quick access to friends — favorites from your phone's contact list and what you add under "Friends" in the iPhone's watch app. You can call or message — or send doodles and vibrations if your friend has anApple Watch. Double click this button to use Apple Pay at retail stores.

— Swipe down to get notifications. Swipe up to get Glances — highlights such as weather, calendar and stock quotes. Swipe left and right to go through the various Glances. The one on the far left is the settings, such as muting.

— Interact with icons and buttons by lightly tapping on the screen. A hard press, known as a Force Touch, will activate other functions. It changes from app to app, and the best way to learn is to try it and see what it does. Force Touch thewatch face to choose other designs and options.

— For a screenshot, press both side buttons simultaneously— lightly, or it won't work. Images appear in your phone's Photos app.

READYING APPS

One of the Glances is for the Activity app. Go through the prompts so the watch can nag you when you've been sitting too long.

The watch uses the GPS sensor on your phone to measure distance during workouts. Without the phone, it counts steps, which tend to be inaccurate. However, if you walk or run with your phone a few times, the watch will calibrate those steps for better accuracy offline.

You can listen to music or view photos stored on the device. Go to the phone app to choose playlists and albums to sync.

Go to "Passbook & Apple Pay" on the phone app to enable mobile payments at retail stores. You can then pay without the phone with you.

To add apps, visit the App Store within the phone's Apple Watch app.

NEED MORE HELP?

Visit an Apple store. No appointment is needed. Besides the video tutorials, Apple is also offering free video chats online.

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