Here’s what we know about Apple’s new smartwatch


Apple hasn’t officially announced its new smartwatch, but the company has left a trail of breadcrumbs with hints about what we can expect from its first new major product line since the iPad came out in 2010. Here’s what’s been reported.

Apple is hiring executives from Swiss watchmakers. CNBC reported last Friday that Apple poached a sales director from the Swiss watch company Tag Heuer. Jean-Claude Biver, head of watch brands for luxury conglomerate LVMH, which owns Tag Heuer, told CNBC the executive left recently “to take a contract with Apple” to launch the iWatch. According to 9to5Mac, the unnamed exec is Patrick Pruniaux, Tag Heuer’s vice president of sales and retail. Apple has not commented on the move. In March, the Financial Times reported Apple and other tech companies were targeting luxury watch brand executives.

It will probably be rectangular and come in two sizes. Reuters reported in June the display will likely be 2.5 inches long diagonally and slightly rectangular. It will protrude slightly from the band and feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities. In April, MacRumors and Apple Insider both reported a research note predicting the devices will come in two sizes: 1.3 and 1.5 inches. Other predictions: a sapphire cover lens, biometric recognition, an NFC chip and wireless charging.

It might work like a slap-bracelet. Laptopmag reported in June that Apple’s patent for a “bi-stable spring with a flexible display” describes a wrist-worn gadget with a wrap-around display.

It might watch you while you’re sleeping. 9to5Mac reported in February that Apple hired sleep expert Roy J.E.M Raymann from Philips Research. Raymann has experience working with wearables and could help Apple develop body tracking capabilities for an iWatch.

Health and fitness functions. Apple’s unveiling in June of HealthKit, a repository for data collected by various health apps, bolstered rumors that the iWatch will have health and fitness tracking capabilities. The Wall Street Journal reported in June that the watch will have 10 sensors to monitor health and fitness data, citing sources familiar with the matter. According to Reuters, one of the sensors can monitor the user’s pulse. CNET reported in June that Apple filed a patent for a weightlifting sensor that can gather data when attached to a weightlifting bar and send it to a mobile device. Business Insider reported in March that Apple patented a wrist pedometer to track steps. The smartwatch could also feature a heart monitor and blood glucose tracker. Earlier this year Apple hired biomedical experts with experience developing medical sensors to do both.

The athlete-testing phase is underway. Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, 9to5Mac reported in June that Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Kings player Dustin Brown and other star athletes are testing the watch for Apple. Bryant was spotted visiting Apple’s Cupertino campus in May where he met with Apple design head Jony Ive.

It might not run on a battery. The New York Times reported in February Apple was looking at alternative means of powering devices, such as solar power, magnetic induction or kinetic energy from a user’s arm movement.

It will likely be called iWatch. Apple has trademarked the name in Japan, according to Bloomberg – and in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Columbia, according to 9to5Mac.

It will likely run on iOS 8. When Apple introduced the latest update to its mobile operating system at its developer’s conference in June, they talked up features that fit with the rumored capabilities of the iWatch: fitness tracking and continuity across devices.

It could arrive in October. Reuters reported in June that Taiwan’s Quanta Computer will start mass production of the smartwatch in July in preparation for an October release, according to a source familiar with the matter. However, the Wall Street Journal reported on June 20 that production won’t start for another two to three months. Re/code reported in early June that Apple is planning a special event for October at which it will debut a wearable device designed to make use of the HealthKit fitness app, citing sources familiar with the plans.

Apple has hired a cadre of fashion experts. Rollout of the iWatch will be overseen by fashion industry experts. Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, former chief executive of Burberry, to run Apple’s global retail operations last October shortly after bringing former Yves-Saint Laurent chief Paul Deneve on board to run “special projects” and hiring Enrique Atienza, a senior vice president at Levi’s, to manage Apple’s U.S. retail. Last September, Apple also hired former Nike designer Ben Shaffer, who worked on the FuelBand.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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