Everything We Know About The Apple iWatch (Updated)
Apple iWatch Expected in Q3 2014
According to a recent research note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, there are at least two versions of the iWatch coming in Q3 of 2014. Kuo has a proven track record of predicting Apple’s next hardware moves.
According to Kuo, the iWatch will be able to operate independently of an iPhone or iPad, but may require tethering to support functions that are iOS-exclusive like health monitoring apps. It will offer integration with iOS devices and the Mac and a ” fashionable appearance.”
Hardware will include near-field communication (NFC) with a “secure element,” wireless charging, biometric recognition and the adoption of a system-in-package (SiP) design to keep the device thin.
Based upon supply chain checks, Kuo expects at least two sizes based on a 1.3-inch and a 1.5-inch flexible AMOLED display. A Korean news source confirmed that LG won the contract to product the iWatch screens.
In addition, Apple is thought to be incorporating liquid metal for mechanical parts.
Recent rumors say the iWatch will be released in September, at Apple’s big press day where the iPhone 6 is expected to be revealed. If true, demand for smart watches should be in full swing by Christmas.
Fashion Will Prevail
According to KGI, one of the major differences between Apple’s smart watch and those from rivals will be its styling and looks. Unlike recently revealed devices from Samsung and LG, Kuo predicts the iWatch casing and band will be offered in a variety of materials.
With a fashion-conscious style, Kuo believes that Apple will be competing with fashion vendors as much as with other technology companies.
In fact, Kuo sees multiple price points for the device – with a top-end model going for as much as $1,000 (!).
Other Rumored Features
Other rumored features include:
- Slap Bracelet: Apple’s patent for a flexible display also shows a 2-sided bracelet design that snaps into place.
- Full iOS support: the Verge reports that insiders have confirmed the iWatch will support existing iOS apps. If true, this would be a huge differentiator.
- wireless charging
- ability to make calls
- a pedometer (accelerometer + software) for counting steps and monitoring other fitness activities
- built-in map support
- built-in support for Siri: send texts, update Facebook and Twitter statuses, find businesses nearby, et al.
- mobile payments via Passbook
- a multimedia controller
- control over home automation devices
During the past month, some of the rumors have become much more specific.
Focus on Health & Fitness
A New York Times report said that a mid-December 2013 meeting between FDA officials and Apple employees about “mobile medical applications” is proof that Apple is pursuing a smart watch-like device with health monitoring applications. The people attending this meeting were very prominent senior executives from both Apple and the FDA, so the NY Times thinks the meeting carries a lot of weight.
A separate report from 9to5Mac says Apple’s proposed “Healthbook” application in their upcoming iOS version 8 will monitor and track “blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and glucose levels”, among other things. Healthbook would also track weight loss and remind you to take your prescription. A separate body-attached device is required to house the sensors needed to collect and track health information like this, so that suggests the Apple iWatch might do that job, sending the information wirelessly to the Healthbook app on your iPhone. iOS 8 is expected to launch later this year.
In February, a Chinese supply chain source reported that the iWatch will be able to monitor heart rates and possibly oxygen levels using onboard optical sensors. To accomplish this, however, the device will need to be in contact with the surface of the skin. We can envision a slick application in which you press your watch against your wrist to check your pulse. Pretty natural action…
A huge challenge for any smart watch design is battery life, and Kuo forecasts the iWatch will use a relatively small 200mAh to 250mAh cell, which should provide a battery life of at least one day. If so, this will be significantly less than competing products such as Samsung’s Gear 2.
That said, additional power savings could be squeezed from Apple’s top-to-bottom integrated operating system which allows for more fine-tuning of specific components. In addition, MacRumors reports that the iWatch may use stepped Lithium Ion batteries, which provide up to 16% more life than the type used in today’s smart watches.
Concepts Gone Wild!
So what’s it gonna look like?
There’s been no shortage of people claiming to know what the new iWatch will look like. One of the most popular mockups is this Vimeo video of a wrist-band style device.
We have to admit, it looks cool.
But we don’t think this is what it will look like.
More likely, it will look like other smart watches on the market today – maybe something similar to the mockups that Martin Hajeck prepared a while back, below:
Barring a major technical glitch in the design or major supply chain hangups, Apple seems to be on the path to release at least one version of the iWatch before the end of 2014.
The release may happen alongside the release of iOS 8.0 and the iPhone 6, which will include the “Healthbook” monitoring features that are widely reported to be included in the iWatch.
- An April supply chain check report by the China Times stated that Apple’s iWatch has entered production for a “late 2014 release”.
- In March, analyst KGI forecasted that shipments of the new Apple iWatch will begin around the end of the third quarter 2014.
According to KGI, the iWatch should sell an estimated 5.5 million units in 2014 alone. That number is expected to jump to 30 to 50 million units by the end of 2015, in line with prior reports.