It looks like Apple have set its eyes on the smartwatch market as company is busy in preparing more than one device.
After more than a year of relegation to ‘next big thing’ status, the smartwatch is finally breaking out into the mainstream with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony Smartwatch 2 following where Kickstarter phenomenon Pebble led.
But we’re yet to see a watch with true wow-factor and, for that, many are looking to Apple.
Rumors of an Apple smartwatch have abounded since Pebble first hit the big time. The so-called iWatch has so far failed to materialise in 2013 but will we see Apple get in on the wrist-worn game in 2014?
Way, way back in 2008, Apple co-founder and renegade loud-mouth Steve Wozniak “let slip” to the Telegraph that “Apple’s future could lie in an ‘iWatch’.” And, in April 2013, an Apple board member mentioned the word ‘watch’.
The supposed iWatch project is supposedly being headed up by Jony Ive. Bloomberg reports that around 100 engineers are working under Ive to develop the device, but a number of secretive yet also high profile hires also hint at the Apple watch’s potential capabilities.
So it could be supposed that Apple is planning some kind of health and sport-focused device. If the dice works on the iOS so the device will soon be on your wrist.
The most recent word claims that Apple may be going for the whole bendy approach with a fully flexible plastic OLED screen, which was backed up by speculation that LG Display will provide G Flex-like bendy screens for the watch.
According to another report, Apple was playing with the idea of curved Corning glass. “Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass,” says the NYT’s Nick Bilton, quoting “people familiar with the company’s explorations”.
The glass “can curve around the human body” and may be Corning’s just-announced Willow Glass, which “can flop as easily as a piece of paper in the wind without breaking.”
Adding credence to this particular supposition is the fact that Apple has patented a ’90s slap-band style form factor which would require such a flexible display. Apple’s patented plenty of tech that never sees the literal light of day – we can’t help but hope this isn’t one of those.
That’s what Chinese gadget site Tech.163 reckons, anyway, although that might be one of many prototypes. Bluetooth is essential, though: if the iWatch is going to communicate with your phone or iPod, low energy Bluetooth is the way to do it.
Then, an Apple patent surfaced that showed a Wi-Fi-less device using Bluetooth to share another device’s network connection – so you’d connect the iWatch to an iPhone to get enough internet juice to get news, messages and push notifications on your wrist.
A 1.5-inch screen suggests it’ll show selected information from your iOS device rather than mirror the whole display, which would be rubbish.
However Apple is also said to still be looking forward for a 1.3-inch or 1.4-inch screen, though it’s the 1.5-incher that is said to exist as a full prototype right now.
In November, the Korea Herald announced that Apple will make two versions of the smartwatch: iWatch for Him and iWatch for Her.
Nick Bilton again: “Would it include Siri, the voice assistant? Would it have a version of Apple’s map software, offering real-time directions to people walking down the street? Could it receive text messages? Could it monitor a user’s health or daily activity?”
If Siri is on board, it may be because the iWatch is running a form of actual iOS rather than a souped-up iPod nano software system – thus supposes Bloomberg again, with ‘confirmation’ provided by The Verge’s inside sources.
Bruce Tognazzini makes it clear his ideas are “not based on insider information” but they include predicting the weather, organising your life, monitoring every step you take, replacing cash, making Passbook work really well and even fixing Apple Maps. We were with you right up till that last one, Bruce.
He makes a good point about the iWatch release date too: “Apple, when you look back, is never actually the first. They let a few others, sometimes many others, experiment first. (Tablets were out for more than a decade.) Then, they bring out the killer product.”
In March it emerged that the Apple Watch may come packing fingerprint scanning tech for NFC-based security reasons, although this news comes from an analyst who heard it from a supplier who had it from a leprechaun who came to him in a dream.
This rumour became less spurious when Apple launched the Touch ID-toting iPhone 5S in September 2013, of course.
Display Search decided in November that the “delay” to a product that has never even been formally acknowledged by its supposed manufacturer is down to another mythical Apple product: the iWatch is supposedly holding up the launch of the iTV!
Quite aside from Tim Cook promising “some really great stuff coming… across all of 2014”, when Apple hired ex-Burberry chief Angela Ahrendts to sort out its shops, a lot of people thought hey! she’s from fashion, watches are kind of fashion-y, maybe this is something to do with the iWatch.
Hey, maybe. After all, Ahrendts supposedly “took particular interest in the watch retailing space” during her time at Burberry. Ahrendts doesn’t start at Apple until ‘spring 2014’. Hmm.
In fact, it already does. The wearable watch market could be the next big tech battleground as perennial Apple nemesis Samsung has already released its Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
Other smartwatches have made their way into the limelight in recent months too: there’s the original Kickstarted Pebble and the Sony Smartwatch 2 to contend with, not to mention a host of new gadgets from unlikely sources like Adidas, Qualcomm and Garmin.
Remember before the iPad launched and everyone thought it’d be $1,000? Oh, how we laugh about that now.
Clearly, though, until we have a better idea of what the Apple Watch is and whether Apple is actually going to ship it, nobody has the faintest idea what it’ll cost.
Nobody but one anonymous analyst who had a stab at pricing and reckons somewhere between $149 and $229 (£100 to £150 / AU$167 – AU$250) seems likely.