Apple iWatch release date, news and rumors

16th Jul 2014 | 01:18

Apple iWatch release date, news and rumors

The Apple watch price could be just right for iPhone owners

Apple iWatch release date and price

Set your patently inferior, non-Apple smartwatch for October, the rumored launch month for the iPhone-compatible Apple iWatch.

The Cupertino company has hinted at "new product categories" for 2014 and we're expecting the infamous Apple watch to be its next "one more thing" surprise.

Apple's first wearable gadget could beam messages, simplified apps and Siri to our wrists, eliminating the all-too-common need to take out our devices to constantly check notifications.

Cut to the chase
What is it? An iOS-friendly watch that plays nice with your iPhone (probably)
When is it out? The rumors say later in 2014
What will it cost? No one really knows

It's going to become especially convenient to pocket the all-but-confirmed larger iPhone 6 in your jeans and always stow the next 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 in a bag later this year.

At the same time, iWatch leaks have pointed to Nike FuelBand SE-inspired fitness tracking and biometric sensors. Apple certainly set the stage for this and more at WWDC 2014.

Release date

For a gadget that supposedly keeps the time, the iWatch release date rumors have been all over the place. It highlights the fact that no one outside of Apple has the full scoop.

Most reports tilt toward an October launch with mass production kicking off later this month.

iWatch

iWatch would be right on time. Google's first Android Wear smartwatches just released care of the Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch and soon Moto 360, and none work with iPhones.

But at least one analyst believes that the Apple iWatch has been delayed to November with mass production beginning as late as September.

That's hardly enough time to manufacturer the targeted 10 million smartwatches that have been suggested for the iWatch launch window.

Rather than a delay into 2015, though, we suspect it'll mean a limited supply in October or November - just like that hard-to-find, buzz-generating gold iPhone 5S last year.

Price

An even trickier question than "when will it come out?" is "how much will the iWatch cost?" There's really no precedent for a premium smartwatch price just yet.

That notorious Apple tax could push the pricetag to $250 (about £146, AU$266) or even $300 (about £175, AU$320) given the rumored production difficulties and components involved.

Apple has also recruited high-profile people throughout the watch and biometrics industries who have likely wound up on its iWatch team. That talent comes at a price.

Then there's a the hidden cost. While a subsidized iPhone 6 is cheaper upfront, stores make up the difference with contract kickbacks. Not so with a smartwatch. Stores need a cut too.

Apple iWatch

For the sake of comparison, Android Wear's cheaper options are the Samsung Gear Live at $200 (£170, AU$250) and LG G Watch at $230 (£160, AU$250).

But Apple's biggest and most stylish competition is from Motorola, and the Moto 360 price is likely to be $250 (about £146, AU$266, but more likely £200, AU$275 given its rivals' prices).

Apple is thought to be aiming for luxury, but the final iWatch price may greatly depend on the display and specs that make it tick.

Display, specs and sensors

Apple's smartwatch remains firmly up its sleeve. Yes, there have been plenty of iPhone 6 spy shots, but iWatch image leaks haven't surfaced despite what you may think.

Everything you see online is an iWatch render. Don't feel too duped, though. Many of the iWatch concepts are based on anonymously sourced reports of its display and specs.

Apple iWatch

The latest rumors indicate that the iWatch will end up with a 1.6-inch display, which is slightly larger than the square-shaped iPod Nano 6G, and a two bigger screen options at 1.8 inches.

Previous iWatch speculation revolved around a display at a much larger 2.5 inches measured diagonally and screen technology being made by LG.

LG is busy with its own Android Wear smartwatch, the LG G Watch, but the manufacturer has supplied Apple with Retina Displays for previous iPhones, so that part isn't not too far-fetched.

It's the 2.5-inch screen that has us collectively scratching our heads. The Samsung Gear Live is a large enough at 1.63 inches and the LG G Watch is even bigger at 1.65 inches.

Apple already makes a device with a 2.5-inch display, the iPod Nano 7G, but it's difficult to imagine the company crafting the same dimensions onto wrists without some of that Apple "magic."

This could be why we're hearing that the iWatch could come in two different sizes that conform to bigger and smaller wrist sizes.

There's also a chance that Apple may compete directly with the stylish Moto 360 smartwatch that features a stunning circular watch face.

The company could, alternatively, go with a more fitness-focused approach with an Apple iBand that's modeled after the Nike FuelBand SE, but its smartwatch features would be limited.

Specs

That LG-made iWatch display may be locked behind sapphire glass to protect it from the sort of nicks and bumps that comes with a constantly worn wearable.

Sapphire glass is the same tough-as-nails material that's supposedly being used in the iPhone 6 in an effort to replace Gorilla Glass 3.

Apple iWatch

The move, though expensive, would be much appreciated. We've brushed our Android Wear smartwatches against walls in just one week's time and that's too close for comfort.

At the heart of the iWatch needs to be a speedy, yet small processor along the lines of the 1.2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 that's inside the Samsung Gear Live.

It would also help if Apple could match its two Android Wear competitors' the 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Something tells us it won't be user-replaceable.

Sensors

Apple isn't all about cramming more megapixels into its smartphones vs the competition, but it may be inclined to add more sensors than any other smartwatch manufacturers.

The iWatch has been speculated to include more than 10 sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, compass, heart-rate monitor, pulse oximeter, among others.

This would pivot the iWatch from an iOS notification-reading wearable to a full-fledged fitness tracking devices, taking cues from the Nike FuelBand SE and expanding on that relationship.

Health-focused smartwatches and apps seem like the future of wearables given the biometric sensor-filled Samsung Simband prototype and Apple's own iOS 8 Health app that's just crying out for the iWatch.

Interface and apps

Like a Jetsons watch from the future, iWatch is likely to incorporate Siri on the wrist so that Apple's personal assistant can head your every beck and and phone call.

iWatch could put iOS 8 at your dominant-hand's fingertips at all times thanks to a streamlined interface and smaller versions of the apps that you use every day.

Apple iWatch

It's expected to push both iMessages and SMS texts to the Apple smartwatch and alert you of upcoming calendar events and reminder tasks.

This would eliminate the all-too-common problems of "I left my phone in the other room," "in the charger" or "in the car overnight." On second, it may ruin some of your best excuses!

The benefit of iWatch apps

An iWatch would basically take the most important notifications from your iPhone and beam them to your wrist.

Care to dismiss a call without the pomp and circumstance of taking your phone out? Done. Or maybe you're waiting by the iPhone for important news? Check.

The iWatch touchscreen may deliver the ability to more discretely dismiss calls and actively keep on top the ones you want to answer.

Meanwhile, a built-in microphone could launch Shazam to identify a mystery song more quickly (like before the track ends five seconds too soon) or call up directions more safely.

With an iWatch literally on hand, there'd be no more dangerously fumbling with the iPhone on your dash while you wait for Apple CarPlay.

iWatch apps in the making

We haven't seen official iWatch apps just yet, but Apple's iOS 8 Health app is almost certainly being readied for its first wearable due to metrics you just can't track with a normal iPhone.

Apple iWatch

Apple's HomeKit has also been previewed as a way to tie together smart home electronics. It could trigger smart light bulbs, door locks and thermostat setting.

Since Android Wear devices can initiate commands and message replies via voice recognition technology, the same is likely a part of Apple's iWatch roadmap too.

Just don't expect a full iOS 8 experience on the wrist or a phone-call-cabale iWatch decked out with a SIM card. Your Dick Tracy wristwatch days aren't here just yet.

Battery life, compatibility, waterproof

The biggest hurdle for the Apple iWatch and all smartwatches in general is battery life. No one wants to charge another gadget every day. We do that too much as it is.

Case in point, one of the major cons we mentioned in our Samsung Galaxy Gear review revolves around its pitiful one-day-per-charge battery cycle. It has a 300mAh battery.

The LG G Watch, which also runs Android Wear, is hardly better at a day-and-a-half average capacity running off of a still-tiny 400mAh battery.

Apple iWatch

Apple has previously patented a curved battery design that could give it the extra space that it needs to boost the rumored iWatch beyond a day or two.

The smartwatch components need to be small, but the battery life does not in the eyes of energy-drained consumers.

At the same time, they require more than the monochrome display of the Pebble Steel and the original Pebble watches, which eked out a respectable 3-4 and 5-7 day battery life.

This impossible task may be why Tim Cook and company reportedly faced battery woes early on with the iWatch.

Wireless battery charger

At least when the iWatch battery dies, there may be a cool way to recharge the device thanks to wireless charging technology.

Apple has reportedly called upon a wireless charging coil supplier in China to send samples of its technology so that it can implement it into the iWatch.

Apple iWatch

The iWatch could therefore wirelessly charge through magnetic induction, a method similar to the Qi-compatible Moto 360 smartwatch.

Qi is quickly becoming the more popular wireless charging standard ahead of its rivals. That being said, Apple does like going with its own proprietary technology more often than not.

Waterproof

A lightning connector could also be an alternate way to charge the iWatch, but that may be a more difficult task if Apple is to make it waterproof or at least water resistant.

Smartwatches that can stand up to the elements are being demanded by consumers who want their "24/7 wearables" to be true to that term down to the second.

If the iWatch is like currently Android Wear watches, expect it to be splash proof up to IP67, which is rated for a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes.

That's good for the shower and accidental submersions, but not exactly fit for dunking the iWatch in the swimming pool or taking it in the ocean. Not this first generation at least.

Compatibility

iWatch is likely to be loosely follow the iOS 8 compatibility chart by working with new iPhones and iPads that contain newer Bluetooth antennas.

The battery-saving Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy made its debut in the iPhone 4S, iPad 3 and iPad mini and can be found in all newer models.

It's the exact same lineup that can wirelessly sync with the Fitbit Force, Jawbone Up24 and NikeFuelBand SE.

The iPad 2, which can be upgraded to iOS 8, is the one exception to the chart. It may be left off of the iWatch compatibility list.

It may mean it's time to turn in that old iPhone 4 for an iPhone 6 or a price-reduced iPhone 5S when the new phones launch later this year.

Just don't expect any Android phone, new or old, to work with the iWatch. Android Wear can't connect to Apple's devices, and we expect Apple to return the favor.

iWatch Apple Watch techlife rumorhub Apple iOS 8 iBand smartwatch watch wearable tech fitness tech ushottest
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