Rumours about an iWatch have been circulating since as far back as 2011, when it was believed that Apple had employed several new wearable computing experts to work on such device. This year though, the speculation has been really hotting up, with reports suggesting that Apple has a team of 100 people working on an iWatch.
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has said that his checks indicate a greater than 50 per cent chance that Apple will launch an iWatch this year. In May, Foxconn reportedly began trial production of the iWatch. The company is believed to have ordered around 1000 units of the smart watch for a "small-scale trial production."
Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted that Apple is working on new product categories ahead of a 2014 launch, too.
Plus, in May, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the iWatch is unlikely to arrive until 2014 due to changes that will need to be made to iOS in order for it to be compatible with an iWatch.
On 10 February, reports emerged suggesting that Apple is experimenting with watch-like wearable devices with some smartphone capabilities, as the company looks to new product categories for future growth.
The company has discussed the design with manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, which has been working on technologies that could be used in wearable devices, according to The Wall Street Journal, who cites people briefed on the effort.
In April, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company is working on "amazing" new products for an autumn launch, and that Apple will introduce "exciting new product categories" in 2014, adding further evidence to the iWatch rumours.
In May, Cook said that the wearable computing market is "ripe for exploration," but criticised Google Glass.
The report suggests that Apple has been exploring the wearable technology area for some time, and that the company has hired employees with backgrounds in sensors and related technologies in recent years. Not only that, but Bloomberg has also said that Apple has hired a team of 100 people who are currently working on a smart watch. SEE: Will there be an Apple watch?
In April, Apple board memeber Bill Campbell said that, while he is unable to reveal specific details about Apple's plans, consumers should anticipate "a lot of things going on with the application of technology to really intimate things," which many believe could include an iWatch. SEE: The iWatch revolution AND: 8 myths about the smartwatch revolution
In February, at Apple's annual shareholder meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple is working on 'new product categories', again sparking iWatch speculation. He told shareholders that the only thig Apple won't do is release a lousy product.
Another clue that suggests Apple will be interested in entering the wearable technology market with a device like the iWatch is the activity of competitors. Microsoft is rumoured to be working on its own smart watch, Samsung has said that it has been working on a smart watch for some time, and Google is also reportedly building one. SEE: Apple's iWatch doesn't scare smart watch makers Pebble, MetaWatch
If that's not enough to convince you that an iWatch really could be on the cards, Apple has even filed a patent application describing a wearable computer with a flexible display that can snap around the wrist to become a smart watch, as shown in the accompanying illustration below. Another patent filed by Apple this year covers the ability for an iPhone or iPad to share location data with an accessory device such as an iWatch.
In March, estimates indicated that Apple could make more from an iWatch than it would from an Apple television set. However, one report has even suggested that the rumoured iWatch might not be a watch at all. Instead, the article, written by Benzinga Insights, suggests that iWatch could be the name that Apple gives to its rumoured television set, dubbed iTV.
The iWatch will run iOS. On the same day as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times published a similar report that says that the watch would operate on Apple's iOS platform.
This would enable developers to create apps for the device, and Apple could also include its own apps in the iWatch, such as turn-by-turn walking directions and Find My iPhone.
NYT also claimed that Apple's wristwatch would be made of glass that can curve around the human body.
Corning, the maker of the iPhone's Gorilla Glass, has already unveiled Willow Glass, the bendable glass that can wrap around cylindrical objects such as a wrist. The company's chief technology officer Pete Bocko told NYT: "Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass."
In April, an Apple patent filing and job listing hinted that the company is interested in flexible displays for products that could include the iPhone, iPad and the iWatch.
Then, in June, Apple won a patent for a curved battery that could be used for the iWatch.
Prior to the NYT and WSJ reports former Apple designer Bruce Tognazzini wrote in a blog post that the iWatch's value will be "underestimated" at launch, but will "grow to have a profound impact on our lived and Apple's fortunes."
The iWatch will charge wirelessly. Tognazzini points to Apple's wireless charging patents when suggesting that Apple will integrate technology into the iWatch to enable it to charge while still on the wrist via a wireless charger positioned several feet away.
The iWatch will be Siri controlled. Tognazzini also thinks that Apple will remove the need for buttons and menu trees in the iWatch by including Siri functionality. He believes that there will be some touch aspects to the device, but that Siri will handle the more complex tasks such as setting a timer or alarm, or forecasting the weather in particular locations.
The iWatch will act as an iPhone or iPad passcode alternative. Apple could use the iWatch to remove the need for passcodes to unlock iOS devices. The iWatch could act as a key that would unlock an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch when in close range of one another.
It's also been reported that Apple is looking to ditch passcodes in future iOS devices through the use of fingerprint sensors or new image recognition technology.
The iWatch will include a sensors for sports and health. It's likely that Apple will include several sensors in its iWatch that could track steps, pulse, flights of stairs etc. It could also include a proximity sensor to help you find it if you've left it in a drawer or dropped it somewhere in your house, Tognazzini suggests.
The iWatch will have NFC. Near Field Communication (NFC) "belongs in the iWatch, not in the iPhone!" says Tognazzini, who says that such feature would allow users to quickly and easily pay for things.
NFC is rumoured to be coming in the iPhone 6, but Tognazzini highlights that the iPhone could be tricky to locate whereas a watch is always found on the wrist.
The iWatch will be waterproof. Tognazzini expects that the iWatch will be waterproof too, and could be used to track swimming sessions and more.
The iWatch will have music features. It seems likely that Apple will incorporate some sort of music feature into its iWatch, what with the popularity of iTunes. Tognazzini suggests that the device could act as a controller for an iPhone to enable users to choose tracks, rather than storing music itself. - http://www.macworld.co.uk