How the Apple Watch Works

Apple Watches on display at in a Paris boutique in September 2014
Apple Watches on display at in a Paris boutique in September 2014
©Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty Images

Smartwatches are not a new concept. The idea goes back at least to the 1940s with the introduction of Dick Tracy's communicator watch. It's taken them a while to come to fruition, but watches that have computing functionalities and work hand-in-hand with smartphones are finally part of the electronics market. They can notify you when you have calls, display your messages and upcoming meetings, and act as controllers for your phone's music and other apps. And now Apple is entering the fray.

At Apple's Sept. 2014 special event keynote, CEO Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch, alongside the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. He referred to the Watch as "the most personal device we've ever created" [source: Apple]. Its name was missing the ubiquitous "i" that prefixes many Apple products, but its sleek design and user-friendly interface seemed very much in line with those of the company's other popular consumer products.

The Watch will work in conjunction with iPhone 5 or later, and although it can perform at least one limited function away from the phone, the iPhone is necessary for it to work and be of any real use. The Apple Watch incorporates innovations in hardware, software and user interface (UI) design so that you can interact with it through sight, touch and sound.

Aside from the expected functions such as answering calls, messaging, keeping appointments, finding directions and playing music (things for which many have come to rely on their phones), it adds facilitating payments, monitoring your heart rate and, in some cases, even unlocking doors. It also apparently keeps incredibly accurate time, and doubles as a fashion accessory with lots of customizability.