Apple iWatch rumor round-up: specs, features, price and release date


First came the iPhone. In 2007, Steve Jobs took the stage months before the launch of a revolutionary new device, one that combines the function of the iPod, the phone, and the mobile Internet communicator. With expectations to send huge shockwaves around the industry, Jobs wanted to show the device to the world before it was ready and before anyone had seen it - a change of course for Apple who usually unveils devices shortly before their commercial roll-out.

Then came the iPad. In 2010, Jobs did the same thing. The iPad was a brand new category of devices, it had to be unveiled earlier before images of its production mold had stormed into leaks and spoiled the surprise. The tablet launched in April, and it was a tremendous success.

It has been four years since then. Four long years, we should add, for those hoping for the next revolution in devices, and it seems that Apple is ready to deliver: it is time for the iWatch.

The company is expected to unveil its first wearable device to the public on September 9th at the Flint Center in Cupertino, a historic place for Apple, a venue where Steve Jobs unveiled the original Macintosh 30 years ago in 1984, and the place where Jobs took the wraps off the colorful iMac in 1998, the device that started the turn-around for Apple.

We expect the same thing that happened for the two earlier new categories to happen for the iWatch as well. The release date will most likely not be imminent - it’d take a few months until the iWatch arrives on store shelves, but business has changed for the company in those in-between years. It will be a little different this time around.

Design: premium “Swiss made”-like, with an affinity for fashion (not nerdy)

First, though, let’s get the basics off the table. The Apple iWatch is expected to be much more resemblant to a real, good-looking, fashionable watch rather than a nerdy, geeky, giant-square-screen-on-a-wrist.

The writing is on the wall: Apple has hired Angela Ahrendts, former fashion brand Burberry chief executive, and also the former sales director at Swiss luxury watch maker Tag Heuer. We’ve been hearing about Apple trying to poach talent from watch makers like Swatch and others (with mixed results), so all those lead us to believe the iWatch will have looks that will appeal to more than just geeks.

Not only this, experts are saying that Apple’s plan is to market the iWatch as “Swiss made”: not literally, but as a metaphor for its high quality of finish.

Apple iWatch: specs and features

With the looks out of the way, it’s time to focus on something equally important: the specs and features. Based on various reports, here is what we expect the iWatch spec sheet to look like:

  • To come in two sizes: with a 1.3-inch and a 1.5-inch screen
  • Flexible AMOLED panel
  • Sapphire cover lens for the display
  • Water-resistance
  • New system-on-a-chip with lots of sensors
  • Biometric functionality
  • Integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Mac
  • Biometric recognition
  • NFC chip with support for payments
  • Wireless charging
  • 200 to 250mAh battery
  • Slim and light design

Hey, Siri: voice commanded

Siri was introduced to the world with the iPhone 4s and it has evolved a long way since then, but it still has a lot of shortcomings - most notably, it does not play well with third-party apps and devices. The iWatch has inspired a radical change in Siri’s functionality.

The smartwatch is said to support the personal assistant, and allow users to book a hotel, rent a car, or send messages via various apps.

Another interesting additional feature rumored for the iWatch is advanced mapping functionality, but we’re scant on details about that, and how it’d integrate with Siri.

Apple iWatch as your health and fitness pal

Apart from just telling the time and being a fashionable timepiece, the iWatch is expected to double up as your health and fitness pal. We don’t exactly know how, but the foundation has been laid down: Apple’s HealthKit in iOS 8 and key hires from the fitness industry, point to the iWatch delivering some fitness and health-related data.

Apple is also rumored to have a brand new system-on-a-chip for the iWatch and the board for it could include sensors to measure steps taken, calories burned, hydration, and sweat. It won’t be a medical-grade device by any means, but we do expect it to provide some basic information about your health.

Apple has also hired a key Nike FuelBand developer and fitness expert Jay Blahnik last year, and we’ve seen star athletes like NBA’s Kobe Bryant on Apple’s campus in late June. Sleep researcher J.E.M Raymann from Philips has also been brought in, likely to help with sleep functions, and possibilities here include measuring the quality of your sleep.

NFC for wireless payments

The latest newsflash from the iWatch rumor mill is about a near-field communications (NFC) chip on board. The wearable is said to not only pack one, but use it to the fullest, allowing consumers to make purchases via the device. Cashless payments have been a pipedream for the industry for a long while, and in 2014, Apple might finally decide to join in the craze and try to liven things up. Reports have surfaced about the company being in talks with various carriers and retailers to support wireless payments widely.

Apple iWatch price and release date

Despite all the iPhone leaks and craze, Apple has managed to keep a veil of utmost secrecy where it matters - new product categories. We have inside reports about the iWatch, but no leaked images, no detailed reports about it. All of this makes it fairly clear that the company’s first wearable has not yet entered mass production. Early projections were for this to happen in late September, but it seems that Apple has pushed the dates further back to mid- to late-November.

The iWatch release date is hence said to be in the beginning of 2015. Price for the smartwatch is projected at around $300 for the basic model, but luxury options should be available for prices of over $1,000.

Unlike the iPhone and the iPad, though, the iWatch will be different. Apple itself is a different company than what it was even just four years ago. The confirmation from this comes from the widespread belief that the iWatch will be launched alongside the new iPhone 6 and not at a separate event. This highlights its function as more of an accessory to the iPhone, rather than a fully independent category like what the iPhone and iPad was. But don’t make any mistake - Apple plans to hype it up and expectations are for tens of millions of sold iWatches. It’s an uphill climb when the yearly sales of wearables amount to less than 15 million units now, but if there’s a company that can pull it off, Apple is it.

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