Apple Sets March 9 Event as Apple Watch Debut Approaches in April

Apple has announced a special event on March 9 with the tag line, "Spring forward," a likely allusion and tease about its upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch, which is scheduled for release in April.

Apple Watch, smartwatches, Apple

Apple is holding a special event on March 9 when it will likely provide more details about the upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch, which is slated for an April release.

The company sent invitations, which included the simple message, "spring forward," to media outlets on Feb. 26, along with location details for the event, which will be held at 1 p.m. ET at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, according to reports.

Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8, so the "spring forward" tease is a likely allusion to the Apple Watch, which is not directly mentioned in the invitation.

The long-awaited Apple Watch was announced in September 2014 at an Apple new product event, along with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The Apple Watch screen is controlled by touch, by arm movement and by the "crown"—the circular wheel button on the side that traditionally was used to wind a watch. The watch, which must be used with an iPhone to get full usability, can do everything a smartphone or laptop can do, just on a smaller scale.

Earlier in February, however, the Apple Watch made news for some features that won't be included when it is finally released. Apparently, the smartwatch will be missing previously touted key health-monitoring features due to problems getting them to work and potential regulatory issues, according to reports.

Instead of a state-of-the-art smartwatch with capabilities to monitor blood pressure, heart rate, stress factors and other health issues, the coming Apple Watch won't have any of those features at its debut, according to a Feb. 16 report by The Wall Street Journal.

Some of the omitted health features "didn't work reliably" while "others proved too complex," reported The Journal. "And still others could have prompted unwanted regulatory oversight," according to anonymous sources who told the newspaper that they know about the situation.

"Development languished because much of the health-sensor technology failed to meet Apple's standards," the sources told The Journal. "Apple tinkered with sensors that measured the conductivity of skin, a concept used in polygraphs to gauge stress," but the features "didn't perform consistently on some people, including those with hairy arms or dry skin. Results also varied, depending on how tightly the person wore the Watch."

Apple's experiments with ways to detect blood pressure or the amount of oxygen in the blood proved to be inconsistent, and the company worried that if it "interpreted the numbers to provide health or behavior advice, the company likely would have needed approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or other regulators," the news story reported.

The health-monitoring features could certainly be included in future versions of the devices.

The lack of those features is certainly a far cry from the initial promise of the Apple Watch, which was originally touted to be a mobile health-monitoring device, a timepiece and a device connecting to a user's Apple smartphone, all in one.

The April release of the Apple Watch was announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook on Jan. 27 as part of the company's record-breaking first-quarter 2015 earnings call, which touted $74.6 billion in revenue and $18 billion in net profits for the first fiscal quarter of 2015 due to a surge in demand for Apple's latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones. Cook said at that time that the development of the upcoming Watch was "right on schedule" and that his expectations regarding the wearable device "are very high."

The watch will start at $349, though additional pricing information has not yet been announced.

Apple Watch is expected to arrive in three versions: a sport version in polished or black stainless steel, a standard anodized aluminum model, and a luxury edition in rose or yellow 18-karat gold.

Recent reports have said that the premium versions of the Apple Watch could cost as much $5,000 to $8,000 or more, depending on their materials. A recent Forbes article described a scenario in which the gold used in a premium version of the Watch could cost $850 to $1,200 alone, which could push the overall retail price of the device to $5,000 or more.