The race to get Apple Watch accessories to market in time for the arrival of the forthcoming device is in full swing
, with a number of iOS accessory companies offering charging stands and other options for owners of the device. In addition, Apple Stores have started posting banners of the Apple Watch a month before it will make its retail debut, and testers combing through iOS 8.3's Apple Watch elements have discovered details on the Activity app, including a dark mode.
The $70 Luxury Pocket Stand
from Pad & Quill was inspired by an antique stand for a gold pocket watch worn by the founder's grandfather, and is made from a single piece of American Cherry or African Mahogany. The stand is foldable for quick storage, making it easy for users to take the stand with them when they travel.
Luxury Pocket Stand from Pad & Quill
Also aimed at travelers is the Roll Up Kit
($50) for the Apple Watch, which is a full-grain leather pouch with a soft linen lining to carry the charger and additional straps when on the road. Both products together make up the Luxury Travel Kit
($120) or the Luxury Travel Pouch (also $120), which changes out the Roll Up Kit's buckle closing for a simple flap with a snap clasp. All the items are available for pre-order now, but will not ship until mid-May.
The DodoCase Charging Stand
($70) is meant more for home use, but can be used for travel. It includes a weighted steel base, while the stand is made from California orchard walnut. The magnetic charger for the Apple Watch slots into a pre-cut groove in the wood to hold it in place. Again, pre-orders are available now, but the unit is expected to ship at the end of May.
The DodoCase Charging Stand with base
Upscale accessory designer Twelve South has also entered the fray with its own HiRise charging stand
($50). The Watch sits on the stand at an angle for easier viewing and use, while the base uses a rubber bottom layer to prevent slipping. The top portion of the band rests on a silicone pad, and the bottom part sits on a leather pad that helps to hide the cabling. Twelve South is not taking pre-orders, but instead offers a sign up for notification when the item, available in either black or silver, is available.
Twelve South's HiRise line of stands
Apple Stores crank up hype with new Apple Watch banners, display tables
As briefly mentioned during the "Spring Forward" event, Apple Stores will be receiving new tables with recessed centers to showcase the Apple Watch. Before those items start arriving, however, the stores are currently putting up new banners highlighting the forthcoming Watch around the stores. Unlike regular retail, the Apple Watch will be on display for customers to try out (with staff assistance) beginning April 10. The Apple Watch formally goes on sale April 24.
In addition, stores are said to be implementing a new Reserve and Pickup system that will be vary slightly from the current Personal Pickup option already available. Whereas customers can already order Apple hardware and accessories online and then pick them up in-store if that is more convenient than delivery, the Reserve and Pickup for the Apple Watch allows customers to select a case and band combination online, then try them on in-store ahead of completing the purchase. Buyers can also "favorite" their preferred watch/band combination using a new feature seen on the online store and in the Apple Store app.
Apple Watch, MacBook banners in Apple Stores
Activity app, Dark Mode uncovered in iOS 8.3 research
Developer Hamza Sood
, a frequent source of behind-the-scenes code screenshots in recent OS releases, has posted a series of images detailing some of the controls and options that will be available to users when setting up their Apple Watch. The screens reveal of a previously-unmentioned "Handoff" feature where users can start, for example, a reply to an email on the Watch and finish it on the iPhone. A selection of the images can be seen at full size in the gallery below.
The Apple Watch app, which was included in the iOS 8.2 update for all iOS users, turns out to offer a great deal of customization options, right down to a digital "monogram" option of up to four letters as "complication" on the Color watch face (one of several that ship standard with the device). By default, the iOS Apple Watch app uses a Dark Mode like the watch itself, which offers a contrast with most iOS applications.
Users can control such areas as App Layout, Health, Sounds and Haptics (the slight buzz that can alert users without making a noticeable noise, and offer feedback on actions), Notifications, Glances, Brightness, and Text Size among other options. There is also an Airplane Mode for the Watch, and a Do Not Disturb option. The energy-saving "Wrist Detection" feature, which turns the screen on when the watch is raised up, can be disabled if the user wishes.
As seen in the demonstration of the Apple Watch given by software lead Kevin Lynch, users can opt to cover the watch with their hand to quickly silence the device. Also as noted previously
, the Watch is limited to using only 2GB of its reported 8GB storage for music (about 500 songs) for times when the iPhone is not nearby to stream music to it (for example, on a long run).