Everyone is talking about Apple's rumoured iWatch. Evidence to suggest that an iWatch release date isn't far away flooded in throughout 2013, and, now that 2014 has arrived, speculation about the smartwatch has become an even hotter topic. Will this be the year Apple releases a wearable device? Updated 17 February 2014 with new Apple hires, job listings and aquisitions.
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 iWatch spec and feature rumours that are circling the web. Check back regularly for the latest iWatch rumours and speculation.
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. In 2013 though, the speculation soared, with reports suggesting that Apple has a team of 100 people working on an iWatch. With numerous related hires and several job listings spotted, it's believed that the iWatch team has grown to more than 200 people. Read on to find out more.
Additionally, the wearable tech market is exploding. Companies including Samsung, Pebble, LG, Wellograph, Razer, Sony, ZTE and more have released or unveiled wrist-worn smart-devices, and 2014's Consumer Electronic Show was dominated by wearable devices. This begs the question: is it too late for Apple? If Apple does decide to launch an iWatch now it will be way behind its rivals, at least time-wise (no pun intended). Apple will need to make its iWatch exceptional with all-new, never-before-seen technology that blows competitors out of the water.
Thankfully, the rumours suggest that that's exactly what Apple intends to do. We've heard that the iWatch will have wireless charging capabilities and a curved display, and that it will change mobile health and fitness tracking forever.
200 people now working on Apple's iWatch
Back at the beginning of 2013, reports from Bloomberg suggested that Apple Apple had hired a team of 100 people who were busily working on a smartwatch. As 2014 gets well under way, that team is believed to have grown to at least 200 people, according to MobiHealthNews's Brian Dolan.
The company is also believed to have hired numerous employees with backgrounds in sensors, medical, fitness and related technologies in recent years, ramping up hires in the past few months.
Some of the biggest iWatch clues come in the form of Apple job listings, which can be found on Apple's website. On 6 February, job listings for physiologists and engineers able to run health and fitness data-related tests were spotted, seeking new employees that will "design and run user studies related to cardiovascular fitness & energy expenditure."
This gives a strong indication that Apple is working on a health and fitness related product, and the iWatch seems to be the best platform for such features.
A second job listing spotted in February refers to "new platforms as of now unannounced," which could well be the iWatch.
Apple has also reportedly hired a sleep expert from Philips Research, the former chief medical officer at pulse oximeter firm Masimo Corporation, a Nike FuelBand developer, former staff from medical sensor firm Accuvein, C8 MediSensors (which monitors blood) and Senseonics (whose work focuses on glucose monitoring). Recently, Apple also reportedly hired Marcelo Malini Lamego, who is credited in more than 70 patents relating to medical sensors and monitoring technology.
In addition, Apple has hired Nancy Dougherty from startup Sano Intelligence and Ravi Narashimhan from general medical devices firm Vital Connect, reports 9To5Mac. Both of these new hires could benefit the iWatch team thanks to their expertise.
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.
Basis Health Tracker Watch makers Basis Science is reportedly in talks with Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft about a potential buyout deal. If Apple buys the company, it'll have Basis Science's heart rate, motion, calorie expenditure, sleep cycle, skin temperature and perspiration sensors at its disposal, which it could use in the iWatch.
How much will the iWatch cost?
Reports that arrived at the beginning of February added speculation to the price of the iWatch and the potential revenue it could generate for Apple.
According to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, the iWatch could generate a total of $17.5 billion in its first year on sale, which would beat both the iPhone (which generated $2.5bn) and the iPad (13$bn) in their first 12 months on the shelves. That’s assuming Apple doesn't suffer from supply constraints, which could bring the revenue down to $12 billion, she says.
The iWatch, says Huberty, will have a price tag of $299 (Around £185). "Our working assumption is that iWatch largely will be adopted as an accessory device and, therefore, sold into the existing customer base, like the iPad, rather than to new customers, like the iPod or iPhone," she says.
The CIMB Group analyst who believes that the new Apple iWatch will launch in the second half of 2014 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.
iWatch will have wireless charging capabilities
On 2 February, the New York Times published a report that suggested Apple's iWatch will have inductive wireless charging technology, as well as a curved display and maybe even solar panels.
The report cites people familiar with the project, who say Apple is investigating ways to make its iWatch energy efficient. "Apple has been testing a method to charge the battery wirelessly with magnetic induction," the report reads, pointing to similar technology used in Nokia's Lumia 920.
NYT also suggests that Apple has been experimenting with ways to charge the iWatch battery using the movement of the wearer's arm. An Apple patent filed back in 2009 covers such technique, which involves pushing power generated by the swinging of a persons arm into the device's battery.
A new rumour that surfaced in February suggests Apple is looking to use a new, layered lithium-ion battery from LG in the iWatch. The rumour comes from source cited in a Korea Herald report, which claims the shapeable battery can last for up to 16 per cent longer than current lithium-ion batteries of a similar size.
iWatch and iOS 8's Healthbook app will redefine health and fitness tracking
In addition to the reports of new charging techniques in the iWatch, rumours have been circulating the web about a new health application that could arrive with iOS 8 and work with the iWatch.
Apple plans to introduce a health and fitness tracking application with iOS 8 later this year, according to sources cited in a 9To5Mac report. This application is likely to work closely with Apple's rumoured iWatch, which the sources say is "well into development."
The sources claim that the iOS 8 app is codenamed 'Healthbook' and will be used to collect data such as how many steps you've taken, how many calories you've burned and the distance you've walked. The app will also allegedly be able to monitor blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and more.
In addition to the monitoring and tracking features, the report claims Apple's Healthbook app will offer users the ability to set medication reminders.
The rumours of a Healthbook app arrive alongside reports that Apple executives have been meeting with medical officials including the Food and Drug Administration. Apple has also hired several people from the medical field, as mentioned above. (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.)
Perhaps the strongest evidence to support the theory that Apple is looking into introducing a health app is the M7 chip it introduced with its latest iPhone. The M7 chip measures motion data, enables the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, and, as pointed out by Apple when the chip was announced, enables a new generation of health and fitness apps.
Apple could use similar technology in the iWatch, with the addition of further health monitoring capabilities, which would work with iPhones and iPads running iOS 8.
MobiHealthNews's Brian Dolan claims to have spoken to sources with "limited but direct knowledge" of Apple's iWatch plans. He says that the iWatch will not act as a standalone device – it will require iPhone or iPad connectivity in order to work fully. He also believes that the rumours about the Healthbook app are true, and that the app will focus on exercise, diet, sleep, stress, medication adherence and women's health, but believes that the name may be incorrect and doesn't expect the rumoured "hydration monitoring" feature to come to light.
Apple has also allegedly been exploring technology that can help predict heart attacks.
iWatch manufacturing issues
It's not all good news, though. The first iWatch reports to hit the web in 2014 claimed that Apple is struggling with iWatch manufacturing issues. On 2 January, Digitimes published a report that claims that the Apple is suffering from weak yields of the iWatch due to the difficult process of applying surface treatments to the metal injection molded chassis (MIM).
"MIM-made components used to be used inside products, but as the components are now becoming part of the external design, surface treatments have become an important process for the look of products," Digitimes' report reads.
Later in January, further reports surfaced to suggest that screen technology, battery problems and manufacturing issues have been plaguing Apple's iWatch. Sources cited by The Information say that there are several snags in Apple's iWatch plan, but that the company has a "sizeable team" working on the device.
Plus, 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 this article.
When will the Apple iWatch launch?
Rumour has it that Apple's iWatch could arrive this year, many suggesting the latter half of 2014.
In December 2013, Chinese analysts C Technology claimed that the iWatch would launch in October alongside the iPhone 6. C Technology claims that sources have said Apple is testing two prototypes of the wearable device. Earlier in 2013, reports from DisplaySearch suggested that Apple has put the rumoured Apple Television on hold while it focuses on the iWatch for 2014.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted that Apple is working on new product categories ahead of a 2014 launch, too, and in December sent out an email discussing "big plans" for 2014 that it believes its customers will love. Cook reiterated these claims during Apple's earnings call for the first quarter of 2014.
In May 2013, 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, in November, reports said that Apple had turned to Quanta to mass-produce the iWatch for 2014.
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"
Will the iWatch be better than Samsung's Galaxy Gear?
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.
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 2013.
Apple's biggest rival, Samsung, launched its Galaxy Gear in 2013, but the device was deemed a flop by many.
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.
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White has said that he believes the wearable tech market won't reach a "meaningful" level until Apple's iWatch arrives.
In January, white said in a note to investors that he thinks wearable devices have become a "legitimate, new product category." However, he doesn't expect "meaningful adoption" of wristworn smart devices until Apple enters the market.
2014's CES seemed to be the year of wearable tech, with numerous companies revealing new ventures into the market. Apple could learn a lot from the market, including the five lessons pointed out by Macworld's sister site TechHive, which include: The activity tracker space is painfully overcrowded, smartwatch vendors still don't get design and wearable tech is still incredibly exciting, despite its stumbles.
We imagine that Apple is learning from the current market and its failures, and will only launch its iWatch if and when it becomes something that people will be amazed by.
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.
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.
More iWatch rumours and features
In February 2013, 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. It's been suggested that the iWatch will come in two sizes, a larger one for men and a smaller one for women.
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.
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.
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.
In February 2013, 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 above. 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.
Will the iWatch run iOS?
The New York Times has suggested that the iWatch 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.
Research firm DisplaySearch has suggested that the iWatch could use an AMOLED display technology, with a flexible 1.3in or 1.5in display with a 320 by 320 pixel resolution equating to a pixel density of 348 ppi or 278ppi.
Alternatively, a separate rumour from Korea's Digital Daily suggests LG will be making 1.52in flexible P-OLED displays for the iWatch, with production set to begin in the second half of 2014.
Apple has confirmed that its new Arizona factory is going to be used for sapphire manufacturing, and, while most rumours suggest it'll be used for displays for a bigger iPhone, some reports suggest the iWatch could have sapphire displays that are made there.
Former Apple designer Bruce Tognazzini has said 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, including:
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 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. Alternatively, perhaps the iWatch will have AirDrop instead, as introduced to iOS with iOS 7.
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.
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. Some of those images are dotted through the article above, so scroll up to see the rest if you missed them.
An impressive new concept from user interface designer Todd Hamilton imagines an iWatch that takes design cues from both the Nike Fuelband and Apple's iPhone.
"I kept the band simple with a curved touchscreen display on the front," says Hamilton. "For physical controls I placed a single button on the left to act as the Home button, and two more on the other side for volume controls."
"For the lock screen I designed a simple black & white interface displaying the time, date and button to activate Siri. From here the possible actions are: tap to use Siri, swipe up to unlock, or pull down to view Notifications. Sound familiar? While I was designing this I found myself pretending what it would be like to use swiping gestures on my wrist. Give it a try, it feels pretty good!"
Following the launch of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, designer Martin Hajek worked with Mac User's Adam Banks to create matching iWatch concepts. See more by going to Martin's website.
ADR Studio has created the 3D rendering of a possible iWatch as shown below. Click here for the full gallery. The studio also created some of the other images shown throughout this article.
Ciccarese Design created a concpet of the iWatch too, which sports a sleek, Apple-esque design and iOS 7.
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.The Complete Guide to the iPhone 5s & 5c is on-sale now. Click here for buying information.