After years of designing and months of bug-fixing, Apple finally raised the curtain on the Apple Watch, the company’s first wholly new product of the post-Jobs era.

The unveiling happened at a star-studded event at the Yerba Buena Gardens Auditorium in San Francisco Monday. The event was packed with reporters and Apple fans.

Models and prices

Before today, Apple had announced that the Watch would start at $349. We got the rest of the price range today.

  • The Sport edition will start at $349.
  • The Basic steel watches: The 38mm size will start at $549 and range up to $1,049, depending on the band. The 42mm version of the Watch is $50 more.
  • The much talked about 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will start at $10,000. These also come in 38mm or 42mm sizes, Apple CEO Cook said. Pre-orders will start April 10.

Each class of Watch comes in a small 38mm and a larger 42mm size.

The battery question

Toward the end of the presentation, Cook finally got to the question many have been wondering about. How long will the new Watch’s battery last on one charge?

“During a typical day you can expect 18 hours,” Cook said.

Apple is said to have worked very hard on finding just the right battery for the Watch — one that would fit inside a small form factor, yet provide the power for a reasonable amount of wear and usage before recharging.

After the pre-announcement last September, Apple is said to have hit delays due to software and power management issues in the Watch. Resolving these issues took some time.

Apple announced the Watch back in September 2014, but months passed before the company finally declared the Watch would go into general release in April. Hence the event today.

Six months and lots of battery and software headaches later, the Watch is (hopefully) ready for prime time. The device will go on sale at Apple stores nationwide on April 24 and in “many countries around the world,” Cook said.

Cook reviews the facts of the Watch

Cook gave a thorough review of the things we already know about the Watch. Much of it was repeated from the first Apple Watch event last September.

“You can receive calls on your Watch,” Cook said. “I’ve been wanting to do that since I was a little kid.”

Cook reviewed how Watch users can communicate with little real-time sketches, or by sending their heartbeat.

Cook also reviewed the health features of the Watch, including reminders when you’ve been sitting too long. The Watch will send users weekly reports of their health activity. “It’s like having a coach on your wrist,” Cook said.

Apple decided to give an Apple Watch to model, athlete, and celeb Christy Turlington Burns to use during a marathon she ran in Africa. This was captured in another Apple promo video.

The stakes

Apple was right to take the time to get the thing right. The Watch isn’t just a new product. It’s a whole new product category for Apple. It’s the turning of an existing consumer product into a high-powered personal computing device. In that way, today’s announcement is akin to the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.

Sir Jony Ives at the Apple Watch event Monday.

Above: Sir Jony Ives at the Apple Watch event Monday.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VB

But the event might be something bigger still. Apple started out thinking of the Watch as a notifications device for a paired smartphone. But it had become clear by September that Apple thinks of the Watch as the flagship product in a whole new kind of computing. If the smartphone is computing that you carry, the Watch is computing that you wear.

The event also marks what history might recall as the real start of the wearables era in technology. People who have worn the Apple Watch during pre-launch has said that the Watch supplants a surprising number of tasks normally done on a phone.

The apps

A number of developers were also on hand to show off the fruits of their furious labor developing Watch apps with the WatchKit SDK over the past months.

Apple demonstrated how the Watch can provide sports scores, give reminders, check on a Salesforce.com app — all activated and directed by the user’s voice.

It demoed the app that tells you you’ve been sitting too long. Apple Pay was demonstrated on the Watch using a real pay terminal on stage. Other apps seen on the Watch screen were Instagram, Facebook, Uber, and Twitter.

All of these apps depend on the paired iPhone to some degree. The Watch, by the way, communicates with the paired iPhone using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The American Airlines app seems to have come further since we last saw it in September. The app displays airport and flight information as you approach the airport. You can also wave your Watch in front of the scanner to make it through security.

The presenter used a W Hotels app to identify himself in the hotel, and to key into his room. He used the Shazam app on the Watch to ID a song once inside the room.

An app from Alarm.com was used to open up a garage door from another city. The app even shows a live video feed of the garage door opening.