Apple’s first foray into the world of wearables seems all but imminent. Tons of rumors across the web point to the iWatch, an iOS-based smartwatch that we could see as soon as fall 2014. A first-party wearable from Apple seems inevitable, given the company’s dedication to fitness and its new Health app and HealthKit platform in iOS 8. With Apple hiring key players from Nike and Yves Saint Laurent, the company certainly seems on the path to releasing a wearable device that fuses fashion with high-tech functionality. From design and features to potential pricing and release date, here’s everything we’ve heard so far about Apple’s long-rumored iWatch.
Apple’s iWatch could end up being a companion to your iPhone instead of a standalone device, according to Business Insider. Even if you need to own an iPhone to use a device, the smartwatch is rumored to run a full version of iOS instead of the watered-down software found on the iPod nano. Cross-device compatibility was a big focus during the reveal of Apple’s iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite at WWDC 2014, and an iWatch that’s built for interaction with all of your Apple products would make sense for the company’s ecosystem.
Apple may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of flexible displays, but there’s a chance we’ll see this technology appear in the purported iWatch. Korean media outlet Chosun Ilbo reports that Apple is testing bendable displays in three different sizes for its wearable device.
Citing unnamed industry sources, the Korean publication writes that Apple is testing bendable displays in 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5-inch variants. This hasn’t been confirmed, but since manufacturers such as LG are already producing bendable batteries, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see flexible display watches in the near future.
The New York Times reported in February that Apple was experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of glass. The gadget would be powered by iOS.
Apple’s alleged iWatch could stray from the conventional timepiece form factor. While today’s smarwatches, such as the Samsung Gear 2 or Pebble Steel, closely resemble typical watches, the iWatch may look more like a slap bracelet. Apple’s patent published in early 2013 for a “bi-stable spring with a flexible display” depicts a wrist-worn gadget with a display that wraps around its wearer’s entire wrist.
This info lines up nicely with Chosun Ilbo’s rumor that Apple is currently testing flexible displays. Apple CEO Tim Cook praised the Nike Fuelband and revealed that he regularly wears one at the 2013 D11 conference, so it seems plausible that Apple’s wearable device would sport a similar band-like design. The Samsung Gear Fit has beat Apple to the punch on this front, but we’d expect Apple’s design to be even sleeker.
Fitness is likely to be a key fixture of the iWatch experience. Apple recently released a commercial highlighting the health benefits of the iPhone, and a companion smartwatch to support those fitness features would be a no-brainer. The iWatch is rumored to have biometric sensors and a pedometer for measuring stats such as calories burned and steps taken, and Asian news source Nikkei notes that the device could monitor your sleep activity, blood glucose and blood oxygen levels.
Apple’s new HealthKit hub for iOS 8 will bring together information from a smattering of health apps, and the iWatch would be a convenient means of gathering that info.
Many industry watchers believe that Siri will play a large role in the iWatch’s operation. You would be able to send texts, update your social status, find nearby restaurants and more just by using your voice. The iWatch could also be used for mobile payments in combination with a Passbook app, as well as for redeeming coupons and scanning movie or airline tickets.
Current smartwatches are designed to sync with your smartphone, but the iWatch could let you interact with devices throughout your home. At least that’s what one analyst has to say. Cantor Fitzgerald’s Brian White, who frequently makes predictions about Apple product launches, says the iWatch could act as a media controller or home automation device. White cites unnamed sources in Apple’s supply chain, saying that the iWatch could serve as a “multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home.” According to the analyst, this means you would be able to turn on your TV, adjust the temperature and more directly from your wrist.
The upcoming iOS 8 will offer a HomeKit platform that will allow various smart home device to talk to each other, so it certainly wouldn’t be a stretch for the iWatch to play a key role in that ecosystem.
The iWatch could be hitting users’ wrists as soon as September of this year, if a newer statement from Brian White is to be believed. White believes that the purported smartwatch will launch alongside one of the two rumored iPhone models for an estimated $200, reinforcing its potential purpose as an iPhone companion device.
A more recent Recode report, citing sources close to Apple, points to an October 2014 release window. This would allow Apple to launch the iPhone 6 one month and the iWatch the next, in a one-two punch that could make buying both devices more manageable for consumers.
With a $3 billion Beats Electronics acquisition under its belt and lots of improvements coming to OS X and iOS, Apple is having a year full of big moves. The debut of the long-rumored iWatch would continue the company’s 2014 momentum, and could help grow a hardware ecosystem that Apple is working to make more seamlessly connected than ever. The smartwatch market is getting bigger with Android Wear-based devices like the LG G Watch and Motorola Moto 360, and we’d be surprised if Apple sat back and let the other guys have all the fun.