Reports coming from mainstream publications, rumor websites, and analysts are beginning to ramp up and, though Apple's actions can never be predicted with certainty, it appears that the company will be launching a fitness smartwatch this October.
According to trademark applications filed in a number of countries around the world, Apple is planning to call the device the iWatch, and Re/Code says it will indeed be introduced at a special event in October.
The iWatch may come with both wireless charging and a heart rate sensor that keeps track of the wearer's pulse without a chest strap, something that the $200 Mio Alpha does currently, according to Reuters.
Reuters also claims the iWatch may have a 2.5-inch screen, which would be rather large, though it's possible the display could have a curved, rectangular shape running around the wrist. Some rumors have suggested Apple would launch 1.3- and 1.6-inch iWatches, but given the variance in wrists size, and the traditional difference in men and women's watches, it wouldn't be surprising for Apple to launch a number of different versions of the iWatch to suit individual personalities. It's also likely that Apple will put near scratchproof sapphire glass on the device, something that's common with higher-end watches.
The iWatch will have more than 10 sensors on board, largely focused on health and fitness, according to The Wall Street Journal, going well beyond wearable devices from companies like Nike or Samsung. A separate report from a Chinese website claims the iWatch is waiting for FDA certification, and that it could have an array of biometric sensors to measure more complicated data like blood pressure and hydration, perhaps through real-time sweat analysis. Though this report is one of the more outlandish claims, Apple executives did meet with FDA regulators last year to discuss regulations on a number of new mobile products with health sensors, including one for tracking blood sugar.
Pro athletes involved
Apple is enlisting the assistance of pro athletes like basketball star Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers, Stanley Cup winner Dustin Brown from the LA Kinds, and others. Bryant was spotted at Apple's Cupertino campus earlier this year and a report from 9to5Mac says the athletes have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements related to the device.
Apple's acquisition of Beats could fit into this scenario as well. Beats is incredibly popular with many prominent athletes (through extensive sponsorship agreements, but still...) and Apple could leverage those deals to promote the iWatch.
In its five minute long-form ad for the World Cup, some US superstars (Lebron James and Serena Williams), international soccer stars (Neymar, Cesc Fabregas, and Robin van Persie), and celebrities (Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj) are shown preparing for "The Game Before The Game" while wearing Beats headphones.
It's easy to see how Apple could take Beats numerous existing athlete endorsements and expand those to focus on the fitness aspects of the iWatch. Ads showing Serena Williams and LeBron James endorsing the device could sell millions and help Apple's "coolness" factor among young, impressionable millennials.
HealthKit in iOS 8
Finally, Apple's announcement of a new Health app in iOS 8 shows how a fitness device would plug directly into its new mobile operating system. Screenshots from the app show tracking of health data like steps, calories burned, sleep patterns, heart rate, and more -- all potential statistics that could be measured with the iWatch.
One thing that we don't know is how much the iWatch will cost, but it's said to be reliant on a wireless connection to the iPhone and likely won't work at all with non-Apple mobile phones. Reuters believes the iWatch will see mass production beginning in July, with a commercial launch as soon as October.
All told, Apple's iWatch looks to be the perfect accessory for busy fitness enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their limited workout time. Will you pick up an iWatch to help stay in shape? Let us know in the comments below.
- ZDNet: Seven challenges facing the iWatch
- ZDNet: Apple's iWatch roundup: Rumors, specs, price, and release date
- ZDNet: Apple's Healthbook app looks too extensive for just an iWatch device
- ZDNet: Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures
- CNET: For an iWatch to kick butt, Apple must innovate in batteries
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.