Everyone is talking about Apple's rumoured iWatch. Evidence to suggest that an iWatch release date isn't far away has been flooding in throughout the year.
Here in our iWatch release date, rumours and leaked images article, we'll keep you up to date with all the speculation about Apple's wearable tech venture, so you'll know when it's going to come out. Plus, we bring you all of the latest spec and feature rumours that are circling the web. Check back regularly for the latest iWatch rumours and speculation.
iWatch concept combines Nike FuelBand and iOS 7. By Thomas Bogner
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, reports suggesting Apple has hired the Nike FuelBand developer, and rumours that two sizes of iWatch are in the works.
Most recently, reports have been speculating about the price of the iWatch, which could pose a problem for Apple. Find out why by scrolling down to the "How much will the iWatch cost" section of the article.
For rumours about new features and release dates for the iWatch, keep reading!
When will the Apple iWatch launch?
Rumour has it that Apple's iWatch could arrive in 2014, many suggesting the latter half of the year.
Most recently, reports from DisplaySearch suggest that Apple has put the rumoured Apple Television on hold while it focuses on the iWatch for 2014. Sources have said that the iWatch will come in two sizes, a larger one for men and a smaller one for women.
A report from DigiTimes states that Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB Group analyst believes Inventec will land 60% of Apple's orders for the Apple smart watch.
This backs up earlier reports suggesting the iWatch would come later, rather than sooner. In January, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster issued a note to investors suggesting that, while a hypothetical Apple watch is unlikely to debut any sooner than 2014, he does believe that wearable computers could replace the iPhone and smartphones in general over the next 10-plus years.
"We believe technology could progress to a point where consumers have a tablet plus wearable computers, like watches or glasses, that enable the simple things like voice calls, texting, quick searches, navigation etc. through voice control," said Munster. "Long term, screens in glasses or projectors could replace the necessity of a screen from a smartphone or tablet."
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.
Others expect to see something sooner. Earlier this year, 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."
Then again, the iWatch might not arrive until 2016...
One rumour that many hope isn't true is that there could be a three year wait for Apple's iWatch. This speculation is based Corning, which makes the Gorilla Glass usesd in Apple's iPhones, doesn't expect its new flexible Willow Glass to find its way into consumer products until at least 2016. However, some suggest that Apple will need to be quicker than that, and ex CEO John Sculley believes that Apple is experiencing a 'lull in innovation' and needs a 'creative leap', which could arrive in the form of an iWatch.
Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said that Apple is losing its cool, but that he would welcome an iWatch.
In April, Wozniak added that Apple is working on new products that will "surprise and shock us all"
How much will the iWatch cost?
The CIMB Group analyst who believes that the new Apple iWatch will launch in the second half of 2014 also expects the iWatch to be priced between $149-229 (£95 - £146).
Quartz notes that, if Apple doesn't launch an iWatch into the high-end luxury market, it's going to be difficult to achieve high revenues and profit margins. Why? Because research carried out by the CEO of Metawatch and former Fossil executive Bill Geiser has found that 85 per cent of the $60 billion global revenue generated by the watch industry comes from watches with a price tag higher than $500.
However, it's unlikely that Apple will want to price its iWatch higher than its flagship iPhone, which starts at £549 ($649), so it could find that generating profit from a smartwatch difficult. However, this is Apple, so launching a product into the watch market will shake things up significantly and is likely to change the shape of the watch industry.
Will Samsung launch a watch before Apple?
That was a question we were asking earlier this year, but it has now been answered. In early September, Samsung launched the Galaxy Gear smart watch.
However, it looks like the Samsung Galaxy Gear is a flop. Samsung reported in November that it had sold 800,000 units of the device, however, when promped further, Samsung later confirmed that that figure was actually the amount of Galaxy Gear units shipped, not sold. According to BusinessKorea, Samsung has sold less than 50,000 of its smartwatch, while a leaked Best Buy document shows that approximately one in three customers is returning the Galaxy Gear after buying it.
iWatch name: Will Apple be able to secure the iWatch trademark in the UK and US?
Apple recently grabbed the rights to the iWatch name in several countries, but two countries conspicous by their absence were the UK and the US. Why? Because the iWatch name is already taken there. We did some detective work to find out who owns the iWatch trademark in the UK and Europe, and what Apple's chances are of nabbing the iWatch brand in the US too.
In other words, Apple most likely faces a tricky choice: fight for the iWatch trademark here and in the US, or think of something else. And the iWatch could be called... iBand? Suggestions on a postcard.
How many iWatches will Apple sell?
The CIMB Group analyst referred to by DigiTimes believes Apple's will ship 63.4 million iWatch units in 2014.
iWatch rumours and features
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.
Will iWatch be a wearable fitness, health and medical scanner?
The iWatch could feature medical scanning and fitness monitoring technology, going by recent hires and arrangements by Apple.
Further evidence that the iWatch may include such features came when it emerged that Apple has hired Nike FuelBand developer to join it's team. There was also an earlier report that Apple had hired a medical, fitness experts for iWatch.
Apple experts have noticed that Apple has poached staff from Accuvein (a medical sensor firm), C8 MediSensors (which monitors blood) and Senseonics (whose work focuses on glucose monitoring), all of which point to health-related features on the iWatch. (On a related note, Tim Cook is known to be an admirer of the Nike Fuel band, an established piece of fitness-monitoring wearable computing tech.)
It's also believed that hires absorbed into Apple's iWatch team during its Authentec acquisition will bring their fingerprint scanning expertise to bear on the iWatch project. Read more: iWatch rumours: Apple hires medical, fitness experts for iWatch project?
Apple has team of 100 people working on iWatch
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.
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.
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.
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.
AND: The iWatch conundrum
iWatch would be money maker
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.
The iWatch will use a flexible display
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."
Tognazzini has several ideas about the features he thinks Apple's iWatch will have:
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.
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.
Some companies have previously experimented with wearable technologies, including watches. Microsoft, for example, launched a smart wristwatch around a concept called Smart Personal Object Technology it unveiled in 2002, but withdrew it after a lacklustre performance.
Toshiba also unveiled a prototype smartwatch that can pair with an iOS or Android phone and provide notifications during CES this year. The watch can alert users to calls, emails and calendar notifications, and can pull in news, weather, or GPS directions. It can also recognise the user's pulse pattern to disable the smartwatch's functions should a thief attempt to access it.
Other similar devices already on the market are the Pebble, Nokia and Fossil Bluetooth 4.0 watches, and the Sony SmartWatch that pairs with Android devices. A Bluetooth smartwatch was also demoed by Martian Watches at CES.
In June, rumours that Google is working on a smart watch, as well as an Android gaming console, surfaced on the web, suggesting that the company wants to widen Android's reach beyond smartphones and tablets and stay ahead of competition such as Apple.
In addition, Foxconn, a major supplier for Apple, is believed to be working on its own smart watch.
iWatch leaked images
There are currently no leaked images of Apple's iWatch, but several designers have come up with concept illustrations and mockups to demonstrate what such device could look like. SEE: On the Apple Watch watch
Some people have actually suggested that the watch seen around the 30-second mark in the below Apple advert could be an iWatch, but we're not so convinced.
ADR Studio has created the 3D rendering of a possible iWatch as shown below. Click here for the full gallery.
Swedish designer Anders Kjellberg came up with the iWatch concept below [Via Maypalo].
Finally, Yrving Yorrealba came up with this transparent iWatch design, which he calls the 'iWrist'.
What do you think about the idea of an Apple iWatch? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.