What is the Apple iWatch?The Apple iWatch has been reportedly in the pipeline for quite some time and should hopefully launch alongside the iPhone 6 later this year.
Fresh rumours suggest we could be looking at a December, or at least late Q4 launch for the iWatch, potentially in line with the release of the larger 5.5-inch display iPhone 6.
We’ve seen plenty of rumours emerge over the last year, including hints Nike may be working in partnership with the Cupertino electronics giant - an idea bolstered by the fact Nike is abandoning its own smart watch line.
The latest report suggests Apple might even opt for a round faced smartwatch similar to the Motorola Moto 360, but possibly with a slimmer body.
If rumours are correct, we could see Apple out three different variants of the iWatch later this year, with two different screen sizes and one kitted out with a sapphire display.
Although Apple has yet to provide concrete information on the iWatch’s existence, there have been official patents for wearable technology and teasers from the CEO himself, Tim Cook.
Every nugget of iWatch news that we discover will appear here, including any official details of a launch or price. If you want to stay in the loop, bookmark this page.
The latest batch of rumours pin the iWatch release date somewhere in Q4, with December looking quite likely for the wrist-worn gadget's arrival.
iWatch Release Date
One report claims mass production of the iWatch will start in November, which does seem a little late for a December launch.
However, a separate report tipping the iWatch to land in Q4, sometime between September and December, got the information from a recent TPK conference.
Now, TPK is a long-standing Apple component supplier and is thought to be the company behind the silver nanowire ink touch panels to be used in the iWatch.
When talking about expected profit for Q3 2014, TPK spokespeople stated that they were originally expecting a very profitable third quarter thanks to the iWatch. But, the expectations were shifted to Q4, where the company expects a rather large windfall as the iWatch enters mass production.
Originally, the iWatch release date has been pencilled in for October 2014, which would put the wrist-worn gadget in line for a September unveiling alongside the 2014 flagship iPhone 6.
Apparently, the iWatch initially entered production at the end of April, albeit in small quantities.
Production will then ramp up to 14 or 15 million by the end of third quarter ready for the iWatch’s release date in October.
However, there are also suggestions that Apple may well lift the lid on its first wearable technology at WWDC in June, the platform used to reveal all the upcoming features of the next iOS and OS X operating systems.
This year the health-centric iOS 8 mobile OS is reportedly taking the stage, which would probably make it difficult for Apple not to at least tease the iWatch at the developers’ conference.
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iWatch NewsiWatch could be called Apple iTime
An Apple patent discovered in July suggests the iWatch might actually be called the Apple iTime. The patent was originally filed back in 2011 and detailed what Apple called a "wrist-worn electronic device".
The iTime shown had a touchscreen display that could be popped out of the wristband and used as an independant media device, a bit like an old iPod Nano embedded into a wrist strap.
However, the patent went on to say that the iTime had a range of sensors built into the strap, including fitness tracking functionalities, which wouldn't work when the face was disconnected.
The iTime could also offer a selection of wrist gesture, letting you twist and flick your wrist to perform different actions, extending the watch's controls beyond your average touch screen commands.
Tag Heuer on the team?
The Apple iWatch team may have snapped up a sales executive from luxury Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer. Head of Watch Brands at Tag's parent company LVMH, Jean-Claude Biver said that the sales director himself had jumped ship to Apple in July.
"Our sales director left yesterday because he took a contract from Apple to launch the iWatch," said Biver.
Apparently Apple has been reaching out to Swiss watch makers for partnerships when launching the iWatch, hoping to give its first wrist-worn gadget the "Swiss made" seal of approval.
Nike and Apple
The latest news is that Apple and Nike are potentially working together to launch the iWatch.
At the end of April, Nike laid off part of its FuelBand team with the aim to abandon its fitness tracker hardware and focus on pushing its software and services to third-party hardware manufacturers.
Sources “familiar with Nike’s thinking” “strongly implied” Nike is working with Apple to incorporate its fitness software with Apple’s iWatch.
Only serving to add fuel to the Nike iWatch fire, Nike CEO Mark Parker teased that the rumours of the collaboration could be true.
“There has been a lot of speculation, which I understand. I will just say that the relationship between Nike and Apple will continue and I am personally, as we all are at Nike, very excited about what’s to come.”
Of course, Parker remained a little cagey on the subject of the iWatch itself, instead focusing on the strength of Nike and Apple’s partnership when asked.
“We have partners who we work with and obviously the most visible partner is Apple. We have been working with them for a long time and we’re excited to see where that relationship goes going forward.”
Apple's own comments on wearables
Apple has yet to provide any official confirmation of the iWatch, but has talked about wearables in the past.
“I think wearable is incredibly interesting. It could be a profound area,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook back in May 2013. “It’s an area that’s ripe for exploration, it’s right for us to get excited about. Lots of companies will play in this space.”
As the iWatch rumours have grown though, Cook has been teasing us even more with the thought of Apple branching out into new product categories.
“There will be new categories,” said Cook in February. “We’re not ready to talk about it, but we’re working on some really great stuff.”
He then said in April the company is “closer than it’s ever been” to launching those new product categories, so that could mean a launch is imminent.
Way back in February, Bloomberg sources stated Apple had a 100-strong team of designers working on its first wrist-worn device.
Thanks to information obtained by two people familiar with the company’s plans, the report claimed “Apple has a team of 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad.”
iWatch PriceWe haven’t had much leaked information on the price of the rumoured iWatch. The only leaked info emerged way back in August 2013.
An analyst at the CIMB Group predicted that the iWatch will cost somewhere between the $149 - $229, which would equate to around £88 - £135 in GBP.
This seems quite low for an Apple product - they're usually synonymous with premium price tags thanks to their build quality and craftsmanship.
However, at this price level, the iWatch would be able to compete with, and indeed undercut, the likes of the Samsung Gear 2 (£249) and upcoming Android Wear smartwatches like the LG G Watch (sub-£180).
iWatch FeaturesUntil Apple formally announces the iWatch, all the specs and features outlined in this piece are based on leaked information alone, but have mostly been the subject of multiple leaks, so have a fair amount of weight to them.
The latest is that the iWatch will be quite the dinky wrist-worn gadget. It will apparently use silver nanowire ink touch panel technology. These modules can be implemented in flexible display, but their main benefit is their ability to function without the need for additional touch sensors.
That means we could see the iWatch body be a lot slimmer than the current Android Wear competition, namely the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live.
Another report goes against the patent outlined below, but usually patents are only indications and not necessarily representative of a final product design.
According to one technology analyst citing industry insiders, Apple could fit the iWatch with a round face like the Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch due to launch later this year.
Brian Blair of Rosenblatt Securities outlined in a note to investors that the round faced iWatch will have a slimmer profile than the Moto 360, meaning the overall body could be less pronounced that the 360.
Blair also added that Apple is experimenting with a sapphire display for the iWatch, but the company has several prototypes it is playing with so this may not be one of the features of the final version.
In late April, a freshly granted Apple patent was unearthed relating directly to “a wrist-watch device”, which could feature a camera and a curved display. The patent came complete with a diagram for a watch face, listing an antenna, miniature home button, ambient light sensor and camera, as you can see in the image below.
The patent explained that the iWatch should have 3G/4G cellular data, Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity, with the latter being something missing from fitness trackers like the Samsung Gear Fit.
LG has reportedly signed an exclusivity deal with Apple to ensure it is the only iWatch display manufacturer. This report was supported by a separate source at a later date.
Korean news sources stated Apple placed an order for 12 million flexible OLED display units with LG, which could mean the iWatch has a similar display to the LG G Flex come launch.
Rumour has it Apple could launch two variants of the iWatch: one with a 1.3-inch curved display designed for women, and a larger 1.52-inch display tailored to men’s wrists.
However, a fresh rumour stated that it could come with a huge 2.5-inch display. That, slightly ridiculous statement, came from a source "familiar with the matter" who claimed:
"Apple will introduce a smartwatch with a display that likely measures 2.5-inches diagonally and is slightly rectangular".
Seeing as rival smartwatches like the LG G Watch only have 1.6-inch displays, 2.5-inches would be absolutely massive. Although, if that is a rectangular device it might not be that silly after all.
There could be multiple variants
A fresh rumour out of Taiwan states that Apple is reportedly preparing three editions of the iWatch for launch later this year.
The first will apparently have a 1.6-inch display, but the other two will have slightly larger 1.8-inch displays. The key thing to differentiate the latter two will apparently be one having a sapphire crystal display, a material supposedly being used for the iPhone 6 as well.
Apple's iWatch trio could also make use of next-generation touch sensor technology from TPK, the top producer of display panels in terms of volume. The panels use silver nanowire ink layers rather than indium tin oxide, making them more flexible and compatible with sapphire display without the necessity for additional sensors.
One of the more obscure rumours is that Apple has been experimenting with wireless solar and kinetic movement charging for the iWatch, following unsatisfactory battery performance for the wearable.
Apple did post a job listing for engineers with solar charging expertise, but reports claim practical and effective solar charging tech is still “years from becoming a reality.”
However, what seems more likely is that Apple has been toying with magnetic induction technique similar to the wireless charging functionality found in Nokia smartphones like the Lumia 920.
Another rumour suggests Apple may include the TouchID fingerprint scanning technology found in the iPhone 5S with the iWatch, which would help keep your data secure if you ever happened to lose your wrist-worn iOS device.
Potentially throwing a spanner in the works for the iWatch and its related concepts to date, is the rumour of Nike and Apple working together to launch an iBand fitness tracker, rather than a full iWatch smartwatch.
According to two separate sources, the iBand will be a fitness tracker akin to devices like the Misfit Shine or Jawbone UP24, but feature a display similar to the Samsung Gear Fit.
We think this is unlikely, but Apple could follow in Samsung’s footprints by launching the iWatch and iBand together, like Samsung did with the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Fit at MWC in February.
iWatch and iOS 8Of course, the biggest iWatch rumour to date is its potential operating software – iOS 8. Both the iPhone 6 and the iWatch are expected to run Apple’s upcoming mobile operating system, iOS 8, which will have a strong healthcare focus.
This will come courtesy of a new HealthBook app, which will let you track fitness data including your heart rate, burnt calories, steps taken and miles walked.
HealthBook also works with notifications to remind you when to take medication too, which would work well with the iWatch.
The healthcare focus of iOS 8 will no doubt build upon the M7 co-processor hardware featured in the iPhone 5S, and will presumably be in-built with the iWatch to some degree.
When launching the iPhone 5S, Apple particularly highlighted that the M7 co-processor would enable “a new generation of health and fitness apps”.
See also: iOS 8 vs iOS 7 - What's new?
Ahead of any major Apple launch, the online community puts its hand to mouse and creates some concept images for upcoming devices. The iWatch has been no different and has been subject to many a zany and totally improbable concept design. However, there are some that may have a grain of truth to them. Take a look a selection of the best below.
This new iWatch concept from German Apple blog Apfelpage comes courtesy of a joint venture with Eric Huisman and aims to keep things simple, a la Apple itself.
Probability - 4/5
No doubt Apple will keep the iOS 8 software the focus for its first wearable, and keep the design elegant and simple.
Taking some design cues from the Misfit Shine, this concept from Thomas Moyano uses a pop in/out body that fits into a variety of straps for customisation options. Like the concept above, its circular and focuses mainly on the software rather than design gimmicks.
Probability - 3/5
Probably a little too like the Misfit Shine to be plausible, plus we wouldn't want to spend a fair whack over £100 for something that could fall out.
This concept design from Todd Hamilton definitely has a touch of the Gear Fit and Nike Fuelband SE about it, but still manages to squeeze a touchscreen in. The concept has even been made into a nifty little video that we've included below.
Probability - 3/5
We reckon Apple will opt for something a little more watch-like and a bit less fitness tracker for the iWatch, but if those Nike iBand rumours are true, you could be looking at something close to the real deal.
This square-face iWatch concept from Antonio Derosa comes with a whopping 32GB of internal storage, which is a bit unlikely. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are a lot more likely, but don't expect the iWatch to come with Derosa's magical LCD projector to show off the snaps taken with the in-built camera...
Probability - 2/5
Although the design might be similar to that Apple has in mind, the purported specs are way, way off.
This is a bit like a chunkier version of the Hamilton concept, but with increased functionality, including a heart rate monitor and other fitness-focused features. We rather like this one, especially the way it presents the information thanks to the larger screen.
Probability - 3/5
We really like the way iOS 8 is presented, but the design is a little chunky and uncomfortable looking to be a real Apple product.
Read more: Best fitness trackers