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Apple Watch revealed: A wrist-worn, personalized communications & fitness device with 'digital crown' physical controls

Apple's hotly anticipated, highly secretive smart wrist watch was finally unveiled to the public on Tuesday in the form of Apple Watch, a device that the company said will define the emerging wearable devices market.

One of the most unique aspects of the Apple Watch is the "digital crown," a physical dial that rests on the right side of the device. Using this, users can interact with the device without a need to touch the screen, which would obscure it.

The crown button also acts as the home button, and can be pressed to return a user to the main screen. A button located below the crown allows users to quickly access contacts.

The face is also an input, with unique "tap" and "force press" gestures enabled by special electrodes capable of sensing pressure.

The Apple Watch comes with advanced sensors that turn on the display when a user raises their wrist. Sensors are also found underneath the watch, placed against a user's wrist, to gather data like heart rate information.

Charging is accomplished via a MagSafe-like inductive charger that attaches to the rear plate.

For notifications, Apple integrated a "Taptic" feedback engine, which basically employs a linear vibrating motor that alerts only the user to incoming messages, events and more.

On the software side, Apple has integrated Siri, as well as app support like Maps, Photos and more in conjunction with a connected iPhone. Onboard sensors like an accelerometer and optical heart rate sensor add to the experience by tracking user activity.

Apple Watch harnesses these sensors, as well as GPS and Wi-Fi data from the iPhone, to track activity and movement levels throughout the day, representing the information in three "rings." The Move ring tracks general movement, while the Exercise ring fills up during workouts. A Stand ring reminds users to stand up during the day, as sitting for long periods of time can be unhealthy.

One of the more interesting features is Digital Touch, that uses the Taptic feedback engine to send drawn messages — or even your heart beat — to friends. On the theme of messages, Apple has created a new adaptive language that intelligently processes incoming text and determines an adequate response.

Apple worked with horological experts around the world to understand the history and culture of watches, informing a universal design that can be worn all day.

Six different straps are available, including an elastomer-based sport band, leather loop with embedded magnets, leather band, classic leather buckle type, stainless steel and stainless steel mesh with magnetic closure.

The Apple Watch also comes in two sizes and three "collections." The vanilla Apple Watch series features a polished stainless steel case, the Apple Watch Sport boasts an aluminum chassis, while the Apple Watch Edition is the high-end collection and comes in "hardened" gold.

Apple Watch requires the iPhone, with compatibility for iPhone 5, 5c and 5s.

Pricing starts at $349 and will be available early next year.