The Apple Watch has saved lives, changed with every year, and now stands as a symbol of innovation, change, and growth. But it was only six years ago that the device was nothing but a rumor.
Wearable devices like Fitbit were becoming incredibly popular, allowing users to keep track of their steps as well as variables such as sleep or caloric expenditure. Shortly thereafter, Fitbit’s biggest rival was born.
In September 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced, alongside the iPhone 6, Apple’s decision to enter the smartwatch market. However, the concept of a wearable Apple device was not necessarily new at this period in time. There are some who believe the idea was being discussed prior to Steve Jobs’ passing away. However, Jony Ive claims that he worked on the design of the Apple Watch in the years after Tim Cook became the CEO of Apple.
The Apple Watch isn’t the first item Cook had introduced to the world during his run as CEO. But it was the first uniquely designed product for Apple to build since Job’s death, making the Apple Watch something that would make or break Cook’s tenure as CEO.
The Apple Watch had similar capabilities to other fitness devices, including calorie, step, and sleep trackers (through a separate app). But what made the Apple Watch stand out was its compatibility with other Apple apps, such as Messages, Siri, and Activity. Users could make phone calls, access Apple Pay and even tell the time.
The first Apple Watch models ran on an S1 system-on-chip, and required being synced to an Apple iPhone in order to maintain a GPS connection. It introduced the world to the ‘Taptic Engine,” a linear actuator inside of the watch that gets your attention with the feeling of a real tap. It had 8GB of memory built-in and a class leading heart-rate sensor.
The Apple Watch was released on April 24th, 2015 in three variants; the Apple Watch (made with a stainless steel case), the significantly-cheaper Apple Watch Sport (complete with aluminum case and fitness band) and the Apple Watch Edition, a smartwatch made with 18 karat gold and featured a $10,000 price tag.
The product was well-received, selling over 36 million units in its first year.