Apple unveils the watch, a gold MacBook, HBO on iPhone

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Make calls, read email, control music, manage Instagram photos, keep up with your workout, pay for groceries, open your hotel room door.

CEO Tim Cook says you can do it all from your wrist with Apple Watch for 18 hours a day. That’s how long the battery will last on an average day. That’s so if you factor in charging it while you sleep, but you wouldn’t be able to use sleep-tracking apps overnight.

The watch is charged with a magnetic charger that clicks into place when it’s near the back of the watch.

Pre-orders start April 10. That’s also when people will be to check them out in retail stores.

The device costs $349 for a base model, while a luxury gold version will start at $10,000. Industry watchers are eager to see if Apple’s version will be the tipping point for the sluggish smartwatch market. There was similar skepticism when Apple released the iPad in 2010, yet the company has successfully sold millions and its popularity has shaken up the PC market.

Apple also is releasing an update to its iOS software for iPhones on Monday that includes an Apple Watch app. You won’t be able to use it yet, but you can see some of the customization options and other features to come.

The stakes are high for a company that just dislodged AT&T as one of the 30 stocks comprising the venerable Dow Jones industrial average. The watch is the first brand-new device Apple has launched without Steve Jobs.

Apple is entering a market in which numerous tech companies are already selling smartwatches, from the Samsung Gear and Motorola’s Moto 360 to the Pebble Steel and other models made by smaller startups. Many run on Android Wear, the software platform from Google. They range in price from $100 to $500 or more, but most don’t have as many features as the Apple Watch, and they have not been big hits with consumers.

Cook directed Apple’s big event Monday in San Francisco, unveiling a shiny, skinny and silent MacBook weighing in at just two pounds. The company says is the world’s most energy-efficient laptop. Apple also has touted growth in iPhone sales and Apple Pay adoption, and announced a set of tools called ResearchKit to help hospitals and research centers develop apps for patients.

It cut the price of Apple TV by $30 to $69 and is partnering with HBO to offer its stand-alone streaming service, HBO Now, on Apple devices in time for the “Game of Thrones” premiere April 12. It will cost $14.99 monthly.

The watch will start selling on April 24 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom.

The entry-level aluminum model, called Sport, will be aimed at fitness enthusiasts. It will cost $349 for the smaller, 38-millimeter model and $399 for the larger, 42-millimeter model. There will be choices of colors and bands.

The stainless steel edition will start at $549 and go up to $1,049 for the smaller model, depending on the selection of watch band. The larger model will range from $599 to $1,099.

The Apple Watch Edition – the luxury model with 18-karat gold – will be available in limited quantities at select retail stores, for a base price of $10,000 and as much as $17,000.

Technology VP Kevin Lynch demonstrated being able to pay for groceries and other items via Apple Pay integrated into the watch.

The starting price of the new MacBook laptop is $1,299 and comes with 256 gigabytes of storage. For $1,599, you get a faster processor and twice the storage. The MacBook will start shipping April 10.

Apple also refreshed its current lineup of MacBook Air and Pro products.

Cook says Apple took what it learned from designing iPhones and iPads and “challenged ourselves to reinvent the notebook.” Apple says the keyboard is more responsive, and the screen uses 30 percent less energy to offer the same brightness.

Apple is dropping many of the connection ports, such as USB, in favor of wireless technology. But when something needs to be connected, Apple is offering a single port that can be used for power charging, display output and accessories. It uses an emerging technology called USB-C.

Apple has been known to drop older technologies as new products come along. The MacBook Air got rid of a DVD drive long before others did, for instance.

Tim Cook unveils new MacBook, the thinnest and lightest version of its laptop in silver, space gray and gold finishes. Just 2 pounds and 24 percent skinnier than the MacBook Air. (Apple is dropping Air from the name and is calling this simply the MacBook.) Keys are bigger and backlit with LEDs; screen has 12-inch Retina display, currently available only in the higher-end, heavier MacBook Pro line. Force Touch trackpad allows for clicks, fast-forwarding, and more depending on how hard you press.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, addresses the role of Apple products in medical research. The company is creating a set of tools called ResearchKit to help hospitals and research centers develop apps for iPhone users to participate in studies. Apple says it’s working with leading researchers to develop apps for studies on diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and other ailments. The Parkinson’s app, for instance, will monitor patients as they walk 20 steps to detect the progression of the diseases, which affects motor systems.

Apple says it won’t see any of the data to ensure privacy. ResearchKit, which will be open source, will be available next month. The first five apps are available today.

Cook said its Apple Pay mobile-payment service has expanded to 2,500 banks since launching in October with six credit-card issuing banks in the U.S.. The number of merchants accepting Apple Pay has tripled to nearly 700,000 across the U.S. That’s still a small fraction of all the retail outlets out there.

Cook announced a price cut for Apple TV to $69, from $99. He says 25 million units have been sold so far.

The availability of HBO as a stand-alone service comes as more people turn to the Internet to watch television. HBO previously was available on Apple devices, but only with a cable or satellite subscription.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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