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FAQ: Everything you need to know about the Apple Watch

Caitlin McGarry, Susie Ochs | March 12, 2015
Catch up on everything we know about the Apple Watch before its April 24 debut.

Which phones does it work with? Good news: you do need an iPhone to pair with your Apple Watch, but it doesn't have to be the brand-new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. An iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c will work just fine. That's a big deal since the watch's $349 starting price might be harder to justify if it also required the purchase of a shiny new phone.

Can left-handed users wear it? Don't worry, southpaws, Apple hasn't forsaken you. The Apple Watch works just fine for lefties, because the display rotates. All you have to do is flip the watch over so the Digital Crown is on the left side. Then swap out the band so it's also in the right position, and then strap the watch to your right wrist. Easy, right?

What kinds of sensors does the Apple Watch have? Can it track my heart rate? Apple says that the watch has a couple different sensors, including a gryroscope and an accelerometer (as you'll find in most smartphones), plus a "custom" sensor that uses visible-light and infrared LEDs along with photodiodes, all on the back of the device, to determine your heart rate. The Apple Watch can also talk to your iPhone's GPS and Wi-Fi to help with figuring out location and other information.

So it's a watch and a fitness tracker? The accelerometer lets the watch count your steps, and it extrapolate distance on its own, or rely on the GPS in the paired iPhone to trace your exact route. That step data comes in handy for two of the apps Apple included on the watch: Activity and Workout. Activity shows your progress toward daily goals for moving, exercising, and even standing. Workout is for more detailed tracking of a variety of activities, including distance, pace, time, and calories burned during each session; you can also use that app to set workout goals, and the watch will give you feedback as you reach those goals. Both of the watch's fitness apps sync data back to the Health and Fitness apps on your iPhone, too. You can't use third-party fitness apps like Runtastic or Nike+ Running without your iPhone in tow, though.

How do you navigate the Apple Watch? It's got a touchscreen, right? It does have a touchscreen, but the Apple Watch's big innovation is the little dial that sticks out the side, also known as the Digital Crown. That's a high-tech version of the crown you'll find on standard wristwatches, which you turn to set the time or wind the watch. In the case of the Apple Watch, however, the Digital Crown acts more like the iPod's clickwheel: You can turn the crown to scroll through a list or zoom in and out of a map. Pressing the Crown returns you to the watch's home screen, just like pressing the Home button on your iPhone would.

 

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