Apple's hotly-anticipated smartwatch is expected to debut tomorrow as the trend-setting firm sets out to make stylish wrist-worn computers must-have accessories for modern lifestyles. Industry trackers say Apple Watch will star at a media event being held at the same San Francisco theatre where the California tech giant introduced the iPad.
Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has revealed little about the sophisticated wrist wear, but has said that he "can't live without it." The company announced its plans for Apple Watch last year to much fanfare and has said it would begin shipping in April.
It will mark Apple's first new product type since the iPad in 2010. Apple has indicated that the entry price would be US $349 in the United States, and that two different sizes would be available in three collections, including the "Apple Watch Edition," featuring 18-karat gold cases in yellow or rose, sapphire crystal and finely crafted bands and closures.
The Apple device will connect with the iPhone, and also have a range of apps and sensors, notably for health and fitness. The watch is also expected to include map software that guides people to destinations with gentle "taps" on the wrist.
Fitness apps on the Apple Watch and its rivals could spell trouble for makers of fitness bands from companies like Jawbone, Fitbit and Nike. "Apple is poised to once again show how computing platforms are won or lost on the one-two punch of eager consumers and hungry ecosystem partners," said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.
Apple reportedly had to scale back health tracking features on the watch after some sensors didn't rise to the challenges. It remains unclear whether Apple -- a latecomer to the wearables segment -- would do for smartwatches what the iPod did for MP3 players and the iPad did for tablet computers.
Apple enters a segment crowded with vendors ranging from South Korean giants Samsung and LG, to Japan's Sony and startups such as Pebble. Motorola, acquired by Chinese giant Lenovo last year, also produces a smartwatch, and China's Huawei introduced its version at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month.
Pebble, which burst on the scene with a crowd-funded smartwatch in 2012, this month broke the record on the Kickstarter platform with more than US $16 million raised.