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Apple Reveals Details Behind Highly Anticipated Smart Watch


Today, the messaging of Apple - the world's most valuable tech company is a master in the art of persuasion. And right now that talent is trained on one product - the new Apple watch. It's the company's first entry into a new product category in a few years. CEO Tim Cook calls the watch Apple's most personal device ever, and you'll need a personal investment of anywhere from $349 to more than $10,000, if 18-karat gold is your thing. NPR's Laura Sydell was at Apple's watch unveiling in San Francisco. And, Laura, I am confused. I thought Apple had already unveiled its watch, so what happened today?

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Well, they give us a peek at it, but they didn't let us touch it and they didn't give a release date. Today, they gave us a release date of April 24, and we got to try it.

BLOCK: You got to try it. OK. Well, what does it look like, and what does it do?

SYDELL: Well, there's three categories of watch. There's the sports watch and there's the regular watch and the addition that's the 18-karat gold one you mentioned. You can switch out bands with the watch. So this is a - clearly a fashion play. I will say that it's a little bigger than most women are used to in a watch. I did notice that - a little heftier. The watch face is square and the display can change from, like, a traditional watch front to a screen where you can tap on apps, and there are a whole lot of apps you can choose. I should add, NPR is one of many organizations that are partnering with Apple on this to develop an app for the watch.

BLOCK: Well, Laura, it's interesting because other companies have had smartwatches out for a few years. They haven't sold very well. Why does Apple think that theirs will be any different?

SYDELL: Well, first there's the fashion part. I mean, Apple - it's Apple. It's elegant and they're good at that. There are a lot of apps they have that you might not find on other phones. You can look at Instagram photos on it. You could make phone calls and talk into your watch. You can pay with your watch. You can check in at the airport with it and you can do things like use it as a key for a hotel room. So I guess they are betting that it's going to be very convenient for those things.

BLOCK: You do need to have an iPhone, right, to use the Apple watch.

SYDELL: You do, and that's part of what may indeed make many people wonder why do I want one? Apple is betting that it's going to be a lot more convenient to just use the watch than to reach into the pocket and grab your phone. And they are thinking this matters enough to people that they're willing to throw some money at it. There are a couple of things it does without a phone nearby. There's health tracking, so if you're running it still keeps track of your mileage, calories. And it does keep time no matter whether you're near your phone or not. It is a watch (laughter).

BLOCK: As you might want a watch to do, yeah. And battery life - this is something that's been a problem for Apple before.

SYDELL: It's 18 hours, so you can use it all day, but you'll be charging it a lot every day.

BLOCK: And, you know, it's a watch, Laura. I mean, as big as the face might be, it's a pretty small thing. I mean, what about visibility and actual usability of something that's this small?

SYDELL: Well, I think in this case, you know, it - I tried it and I did find it was fairly easy to just tap on it and use it and swipe. And the little tiny button on the side they're using to scroll with, so the normal way you would use a watch, they've made that even more convenient. So it was surprisingly convenient to me.

BLOCK: OK, NPR's Laura Sydell on today's launch of the Apple Watch. Laura, thanks.

SYDELL: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and