Wearables are widely regarded as the next big thing in consumer technology, underscored by buzz around Google Glass and Pebble's enormously successful Kickstarter project. But will Apple jump in? And if so, when? Join us as we track the rumors from conception to launch.
- Read Article >
We can finally lay months of rumors and speculation to rest. The iWatch is real and it's called the Apple Watch. Tim Cook describes it as the next chapter in Apple's history. It's a "comprehensive health and fitness device," says Cook, much as it was expected, but it's also "an extremely precise and customizable timepiece." It is the most personal device that Apple's ever created. The key innovation that Apple is touting is a breakthrough in input mechanics, using a Digital Crown on the Watch that can scroll, zoom, and navigate the user interface without obstructing the display.
Apple's September 9th event has been described as historic before it's even started. To match the great hype, the Cupertino company has booked a larger venue than usual and supplemented its capacity with a mysterious three-story structure. The elaborate buildup is for the launch of a new iPhone (or two), plus there's the widely anticipated announcement of a long-rumored iWatch and the tantalizing "wish we could say more" tagline from Apple itself.Read Article >
The iPhone 6 is expected to come in two variants: a 4.7-inch model that would feature a sapphire glass display and a larger 5.5-inch version that may end up being released a few months after the first. Multiple iPhone 6 dummies and even one functional device have leaked onto the web, demonstrating a curvier back, sides, and front on the new, thinner iPhones. The power button appears to have moved from the top to the side of the handset for the first time.
Sep 7, 2014
We're little more than two days away from Apple's highly-anticipated press event, and the rumors keep on coming in. According to the latest report, the so-called iWatch won't be limited to a suite of Apple-designed apps. A very select group of third-party developers, including Facebook, have been given early access to the software development kit (SDK) for the device, reports 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman. Those tools will presumably allow companies to throw together versions of their apps in time for Tuesday's press conference.Read Article >
More importantly, the rumor suggests that Apple will open up its wearable device to third-party developers, and may even bring a version of its App Store to the device. If the rumors are accurate, it's not a terribly surprising move: Apple makes a fortune from the App Store, and it's widely expected that the device will run some version of iOS.
One of the biggest things that we still don't know about the iWatch is what it'll actually look like, but Apple developer documents from Apple may just be laying out a hint. As spotted by Punchkick Interactive, Apple uploaded a document yesterday that features a "media remote" that looks suspiciously like a round-faced smartwatch. It's a pretty simple image and could certainly be referring to any number of other watches, but it's still something to go on. It's particularly worth considering given that right beside it is the silhouette of an iPhone acting as the "media source," so Apple clearly has some interest in using its own products as illustrations here.Read Article >
That all said, Apple's been using this image for a little while now, so it may well just be a placeholder.
It feels like there have been iWatch rumors going back basically forever, but the strange thing is that they really only kicked off about a year and a half ago. Stranger yet: we still don't have a perfectly clear picture of what Apple's built. Its latest phones and tablets have all leaked out pretty thoroughly before their announcements, but details on the so-called iWatch have been inconsistent and piecemeal at best.Read Article >
We're now just days away from finding out what Apple's actually been working on. That hardly means that it's time to rest our curiosity, though — we're still as eager as ever to find out what the iWatch is like. Here's our breakdown of all the reports and rumors that we've seen over the past year or so as we try to figure out exactly what to expect from Apple on Tuesday.
As for Apple's smartwatch, the Times corroborates earlier reports saying that it'll come in two sizes and have a variety of health functions. It also reports that the watch will have a flexible display that's covered by sapphire. Sensors on the watch will be capable of tracking a wearer's footsteps and heart rate, among other vital signs. Apple has reportedly put a lot of effort into ensuring that its wearable is capable of capturing this data more accurately than other devices that are currently out on the market, and some with knowledge of the product are said to be calling it Apple's most ambitious project yet. The Times also reports that the watch will use wireless charging to get power.Read Article >
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that the iWatch was expected to come with NFC — a type of close-range, wireless communications system — and the Times is reporting that here too. It says that Apple's wearable and its new iPhones will all include NFC support, which will be used for making mobile payments through a partnership with Visa, American Express, and MasterCard. The Times reports that the iPhones should be on sale within a matter of weeks, but that Apple's wearable isn't expected until next year. The Times also says that Apple's wearable will make significant use of Handoff, a feature coming to the next version of iOS and OS X that allows a user to easily move documents and tasks between devices.
Though Apple has criticized OLED displays in the past for having over-saturated colors, the technology is a logical choice for a smartwatch. An OLED display only needs to light up pixels that are actively in use, meaning that Apple's watch could potentially display some basic information — say, the time — while leaving the rest of the screen black. If that's how Apple chooses to use it, that could potentially be a big battery saver.Read Article >
NFC is the other particularly new tidbit in the Journal's report. Support for NFC — a short-range, wireless communications system — is said to be coming to Apple's next iPhones as well, and inclusion in its wearable would show that Apple has serious plans for the technology. NFC should be very familiar to anyone who's used an Android phone in the past several years, but Apple has until now ignored the technology and left it out of the iPhone. One of NFC's key uses has been in facilitating mobile payments — an area that many are trying to crack, but that no one has gained much ground in yet. Apple is said to be the latest making an attempt, and it's expected to unveil a payments system alongside all of these new devices on Tuesday. Paying a bill with your watch may sound strange for now, but if Apple pulls it off, it might be pretty normal in the future. The Journal also suggests that NFC could be used to simplify the process of pairing an iWatch and an iPhone.
Aug 30, 2014
We're little over a week from Apple's biggest press conference of the year, and rumors surrounding the company's widely-expected entry into the wearable market are reaching fever pitch. Unidentified sources now tell Recode that there won't be a single Apple wearable device — or "iWatch" as many observers have decided to call it — but rather multiple models at different price points. According to the report, executives have discussed offering a model for as much as $400 — significantly more than the competition. LG's and Samsung's Android Wear-powered models cost $199.99 and $229 respectively. Samsung's Gear 2 costs $299.99.Read Article >
It's not clear how many models will be available, but it wouldn't be surprising to see less expensive versions of the device with different screen sizes, or perhaps less-impressive specifications. A Wall Street Journal report from this past June suggested that Apple would be able to hit multiple prices by offering models with different size screens. Today's Recode report adds that it's not clear that Apple has settled on a price yet, and it's possible that the company will not reveal how much the wearable (or wearables) will cost until a later date. A separate rumor earlier suggested that any forthcoming "iWatch" would not be available until next year.
Aug 27, 2014
Apple's long-awaited wearable device, often referred to as the iWatch, will debut alongside two new iPhones set to be unveiled on September 9th. That's according to a new report from Recode, which also claims that the product will be deeply integrated with Apple's health tracking tools — coming as part of iOS 8 — and even tap into home automation through HomeKit, another new feature of the upcoming software. Rumors have long pointed to Apple's wearable putting a big focus on health, so that tidbit isn't exactly a revelation.Read Article >
But we've yet to truly see Apple's grand vision for controlling electronics throughout the home with HomeKit. At WWDC, the company revealed that iPhones will be able to control garage door openers, lights, security cameras, and other networked devices — all through iOS without any need for extra apps or other tacked on software. Presumably the wearable will share many of these capabilities. Daring Fireball's John Gruber first floated the September 9th unveiling earlier this month, but later indicated he was kidding and had "no idea" whether Apple's wearable is indeed coming on that date.
Aug 8, 2014
One of the biggest mysteries in tech is on the cusp of being solved. Apple's highly anticipated wearable device for the wrist will be shown off in September, according to the well sourced Apple observer John Gruber. Responding to a Verge story today on the Moto 360 charging dock, Gruber announced the gadget's unveiling with characteristic understatement. "The only way this could get funnier would be if it doesn't even ship until after Apple announces their wrist wearable thing next month," he wrote on Daring Fireball. (It's funny to Gruber because he thinks the Moto 360 has a "stupid flat-tire display shape.")Read Article >
This week, several outlets reported that Apple is planning to hold an event September 9th. We assume that's the day we'll see the iPhone 6, but now we'll be looking for a wearable as well. Will it be a watch after all? Or will it be something closer to a bracelet, as in the concept above? The fact that Gruber doesn't refer to the device by its popular shorthand name of "iWatch" seems suggestive. Whatever it turns out to be, here's hoping it's more than an ever-pulsing inbox strapped to the wrist.
Jul 4, 2014
The luxury conglomerate LVMH, which own brands as diverse as Louis Vuitton and Hennessey, has reportedly lost an executive from its Tag Heuer watch division to Apple. The news comes from the head of watch brands for LVMH, Jean-Claude Biver, who told CNBC that Tag Heuer's sales director left for a "contract" with Apple. Presumably, the executive will be tasked with helping launch Apple's upcoming smartwatch. 9to5Mac reports that its sources say the executive is Patrick Pruniaux, Tag Heuer's vice president of sales and retail.Read Article >
This isn't the first time that we've heard rumors of Apple's attempts to recruit Swiss watchmakers. In March, the Financial Times reported that several Silicon Valley companies, including Apple, were targeting employees of luxury watch brands. Biver himself had named Apple in March, telling a Swiss publication that "Apple has contacted some of my employees – I saw the emails personally."
Jun 20, 2014
Apple's upcoming smartwatch is pegged for a fall release and will come in multiple designs, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. The device, widely dubbed the iWatch, is said to include over 10 sensors, with some dedicated to tracking users' health and fitness. Apple is planning to "address an overarching criticism of existing smartwatches that they fail to provide functions significantly different from that of a smartphone," according to one WSJ source.Read Article >
Reuters reported yesterday that the smartwatch is likely to feature a 2.5-inch screen, wireless charging, and a heart sensor, with mass production starting next month for a release as soon as October. The WSJ, however, claims that the watch will come in multiple screen sizes. Reuters says Apple is set to ship 50 million units within a year of going on sale, and the WSJ believes there will be between 10 to 15 million shipments by the end of 2014.
Jun 19, 2014
If a new report from Reuters is accurate, Apple's iWatch could arrive as soon as October, and it's "likely" to feature a 2.5-inch display manufactured by LG. Production of the company's first smartwatch will apparently kick into high gear in July, with Apple aiming to produce and ship a massive total of 50 million units in its first year. Reuters says the screen will be "slightly rectangular in shape" and adds that the watch will include hardware capable of detecting a user's pulse, which would obviously make for a nice tie-in with Apple's upcoming Health app in iOS 8.Read Article >
Previous rumors have suggested that pulse isn't the only thing Apple's wearable will keep track of, but Reuters doesn't expand on any other features — nor does it offer any specifics on the software Apple has designed for the so-called iWatch. The long-rumored device represents a major gamble for Apple as it tries to prove that it's still capable of innovating in new areas and producing another consumer hit after setting a high bar with the iPhone and iPad. CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly pledged that Apple will enter new product categories this year, with VP Eddy Cue recently adding that the company's current pipeline is the best he's seen during his entire tenure at Apple.
Jun 9, 2014
Apple roused the interest of fans and industry onlookers earlier this year when a government calendar revealed that several of its executives had taken a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss "mobile health," and now thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, more details are available on what they met about. According to Apple Toolbox, which made the FOIA request, the discussion revolved around how medical apps and hardware are being regulated. Apple likes the FDA's current guidance on mobile medical apps — which was released last year and leaves some wiggle room on quality — but it seems to be particularly concerned with what exactly triggers regulation.Read Article >
Apple intends to work closely with the FDA during the development of future products, giving the agency advanced notice so that regulatory hurdles don't disrupt its business plans. The FDA says that it won't necessarily regulate a new product purely because it has a certain sensor present — say, a glucose meter — and that instead it would regulate the software that puts that sensor to use. That suggests that Apple would likely run any medical apps that it's making by the FDA, and potentially, it could even be doing this for iOS 8's Health and HealthKit. It's not clear what that'll mean for the App Store though, as it may come to fill with medical apps should future Apple devices contain sensors for them. It's likely that it'll still be up to individual developers to comply with regulations, rather than for Apple to enforce them.
Jun 6, 2014
Apple is said to be planning a "tentative" October event to show off its wearable device. That's according to Recode, which says the unit will make use of HealthKit, something Apple unveiled earlier this week at its annual developer conference. That system tracks all sorts of health data from apps and fitness hardware, and can display it in a separate, upcoming iOS 8 app called Health.Read Article >
Recode's report follows one from Nikkei, which also noted that Apple plans to launch its wearable device this October. Citing sources, the Nikkei says Apple plans to produce 3 to 5 million of the devices each month, and is partnering with Nike, which recently trimmed back its own efforts on the Fuelband fitness tracking hardware.
May 10, 2014
Nobody knows why Apple is buying Beats, but many are taking a guess. Business reporters and financial analysts are keen to tell you about all the known pieces of Beats that kind of, sort of, probably add up to a good reason to buy a company. But what if we’re all missing the point? What if Apple isn’t buying Beats for a known quantity, but for a product that hasn’t been announced?Read Article >
Imagine if tomorrow, Apple announced a smartwatch. Imagine how Beats could help.
Apr 24, 2014
Of course, Cook's latest comments give no more specific of a timeline than usual. And more than ever, his comments appear as little more than a refrain targeted directly at investors hungry to see new revenue streams. Cook usually finds a way to mention the potential for new products while discussing Apple's quarterly earnings with investors, but recently, he's even been laying out just as much in press releases that accompany the earnings, with quotes like this from yesterday: "We’re eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market."Read Article >
The Journal also questioned Cook on mobile payments — another area that Apple could potentially be considering as a new product category. In the past, Cook has said that mobile payments intrigued Apple and that there was further potential there for the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that's built into the iPhone 5S. He elaborates on that here, saying that mobile payments are "an area where nobody has figured it out yet. I realize that there are some companies playing in it, but you still have a wallet in your back pocket and I do too which probably means it hasn’t been figured out just yet."
Feb 3, 2014
Battery life is a major concern for most entries in the fledgling smartwatch category; last year The Verge heard that Apple was having power trouble with its much-anticipated wearable device. Now The New York Times reports that Cupertino is exploring new technologies to solve the problem. According to the Times' sources, Apple is considering equipping the smartwatch's screen with a solar-charging layer that would top up the battery when the device is worn in daylight, though such a solution is considered "years from becoming a reality."Read Article >
The Times report repeats the newspaper's year-old claim that the watch will use a curved glass screen, and one anonymous source says that Apple has been testing wireless charging for the device. Nokia's smartphones, some of which use Qi magnetic charging pads, are called out for comparison; Apple has yet to introduce wireless charging to any of its iPhone range. Senior marketing VP Phil Schiller has gone on record as doubting the technology's utility, pointing out that the charging pads themselves must be plugged into a power source. "Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated," he told All Things D at the iPhone 5 launch in 2012.
Jan 31, 2014Read Article >
Apple has hired several notable small device, fitness, and medical experts in the past few months, according to reports. Several of those individuals have worked on health sensors, suggesting Apple's working on its own solution to monitor the human body. The company already began moving in that direction with its A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor, which Apple said will help health and fitness apps by providing enhanced contextual awareness of activity. Some companies, including Fitbit — a company that makes its own fitness tracker — have already started using it to turn the iPhone 5S into a dedicated tracker.
Jan 7, 2014
Apple has faced several setbacks in its attempt to design a smartwatch, according to The Information. Those include unsatisfactory battery performance attributed to display issues. Apple has explored switching the display technology used within its smartwatch, according to the report, though The Information doesn't mention what sort of panels are under consideration. Apple also called off production of iWatch components with one supplier late last year, the report claims, but even editor-in-chief Jessica Lessin hedges that this detail may not be significant. But Apple is said to have a "sizable" team working on bringing its first smartwatch to market.Read Article >
That likely includes ex-Nike design director Ben Shaffer, who played a large part in development of the popular Nike Fuelband. The company has also reportedly hired a variety of fitness and wearable experts. But even with all that talent, it does appear that Apple has faced problems; all the way back in March of 2013, the oft-reliable Bloomberg claimed that Apple would release its smartwatch by year's end. At the time, The Verge corroborated the story with our own sources. CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly hinted that Apple will move into a new product category sometime in 2014.
Oct 29, 2013
Yesterday's Apple results were fairly unsurprising, as the company beat Wall Street's Q4 estimates with a $7.5B profit on strong iPhones sales, flat iPad performance, and a steadily declining number of Macs. But on the call with analysts afterwards, Tim Cook continued what has become his most surprising new tradition as Apple's CEO: he explicitly discussed Apple's interest in new product categories.Read Article >
"We see significant opportunities," he said, "in both current product categories and new ones."
Oct 17, 2013
As Samsung's Galaxy Gear commercial illustrates, the desire for a truly smart wrist-worn device is as old as the electronics industry itself. We've lusted after smart watches for so long that we've melded the two words into one utopian noun: a smartwatch. 2013 has been an undeniably good year for smartwatch enthusiasts. From the successful Kickstarter project that gave birth to the Pebble to Samsung and Sony's most sincere efforts to commercialize the category, the buyer's choice has never been wider. And that trend's only set to continue, with Nokia, Google, Apple, and Microsoft all actively eyeing the wearable device category.Read Article >
Even as we keep advancing toward the end goal, however, much progress remains to be made. Prices are still too high for most consumers, functionality and battery life are too limited, and designs are a little bit too large and macho to be appealing to a truly wide audience. As Ian Drew, now executive VP at ARM and formerly a senior manager at Intel, told The Verge recently, smartwatches are still in the pre-iPod era of their development. That’s not to say that the tech industry is just waiting for Apple to show the way, but the definitive, trend-setting device that everyone tries to either beat or emulate simply hasn’t materialized yet. While we wait for someone, anyone, to deliver the ultimate smartwatch, what can the best devices available today tell us about perfecting the smart wrist-accessory?
Sep 27, 2013
At this point, it's no secret that Apple is profoundly interested in wearable devices, with many rumors pegging a new "iWatch" product to be unveiled in the near future. To that end, it looks like the company has tapped one of the best in the business for the wearable category: 9to5Mac is reporting that Apple has hired Nike's Ben Shaffer, the studio director for the company's "Innovation Kitchen." Under Shaffer, a Nike employee since 2011, the Innovation Kitchen brought forth the successful Fuelband fitness tracker as well as an unusual, lightweight running shoe called the Flyknit. Under his leadership, Nike was recently named the most innovative company of 2013 by Fast Company.Read Article >
9to5Mac posits that Shaffer will use his experience with the Fuelband to implement some fitness-tracking options in Apple's future wearable device, though at this point there's no official word on what Shaffer will be doing at Apple. It's also near-certain that if Apple does introduce a wearable device this year, it likely will have little or no influence from the company's new hire. However, a recent report indicated that Apple might not release such a device until 2014, which means there may be time for Shaffer to exert his influence on the company's entry into the market. If the rumor of Shaffer's hire is correct, it appears he'll join fitness consultant Jay Blahnik, another former member of Nike's Fuelband team.
Jul 18, 2013
Apple vice president Kevin LynchRead Article >
Reports of Apple's long-rumored smartwatch device, commonly called the iWatch, have continually gained steam this year, and remarks from CEO Tim Cook have lent credence to the notion that Apple is working on such a device. A new report from 9to5Mac outlines Apple's supposed secret team that is working on a smartwatch or other wearable technology. Leading the pack is senior vice president of technologies Bob Mansfield, but just below him are former Adobe exec Kevin Lynch, who is heading up software (The Verge has also heard Lynch is working on Apple's smartwatch), and James Foster, who is in charge of hardware on the project.
Jul 14, 2013Read Article >
A new report in the Financial Times today says that Apple has significantly stepped up hiring in a bid to engineer its long-rumored smartwatch. The report goes on to say that CEO Tim Cook could still scrap the project — Cupertino has a reputation for leaving half-baked projects on the cutting-room floor over the years — but that Apple currently has "several dozen" people actively working on the iWatch. Interestingly, FT says that the activity suggests that the project wouldn't be ready for retail until the second half of 2014, running against earlier rumors that we could see it on shelves before the end of the year; if true, that leaves an opportunity for Google, Samsung, and smaller players like Pebble and MetaWatch to make a splash over the course of the next 12-plus months.