Apple’s smartwatch was on display again at today’s special Apple event, and this time we actually got to try a live unit. Last September, we were able to wear the hardware on our wrists, but today units had near-final live software so we got get a better idea of how it will actually work when it ships on April 24.

The Apple Watch’s hardware is of course still quite impressive, with the stainless steel especially catching the eye. The 38mm version still feels better on my wrist, but the 42mm is also not overly large. Apple revealed today that the larger version will be $50 more than its smaller counterpart in most cases, which is good news for those like me who prefer the smaller face.apple-w1

Apple claims that the watches will have about 18 hours of battery life, and they’ll charge using a special MagSafe cable . As Apple previewed in September, users will navigate through the menus of the watch using a special knob that both physically turns and is touch-sensitive. In Monday’s demo, Apple’s vice president of technology, Kevin Lynch, received a phone call on his watch, drew and sent a picture, streamed video, requested an Uber, replied to a text message, browsed Instagram, and remotely opened a garage door. The watch lets you know when you’ve been doing too much sitting, can track heart rate, and is also Apple Pay–enabled, so you can buy a smoothie when you’re done with your jog. Or, you know, whatever.

Apple’s various apps, including the health and fitness software and the camera remote, make good use of the limited screen space, and the input system ensures you’re never more than a couple taps away from sending messages to your closest friends, or loading up Apple Pay to use at a compatible retailer. The camera remote is especially clever, giving mobile photographers an easy way to capture group shots with themselves included, or to execute carefully timed snaps.

 

 

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apple-w3The band options are expectedly comfortable and luxurious, but I still do have occasional problems with the clasp on the sport band, which may get better as you become more used to the mechanism.

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