Apple iWatch: Rounding up every rumor surrounding Apple's supposed smartwatch

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/ Updated: 27 August 2014 8:26 pm BST

Editors' note: This piece was first published on April 18, 2013, and is updated periodically.

Despite Apple barely ever even hinting at a possible smartwatch, the company's mythical iWatch remains one of the most hotly tipped pieces of gadgetry in the last few years. From faux-deadlines ("Expect it in Q3! Okay, maybe Q4!") to stabs in the dark about its features (curved screen? an alternative battery source? a sleep monitor? how about all three?), the rumor mill has been churning out conjecture on this unicorn-like device.

To keep track of it all, CNET collected all the known gossip about the supposed smartwatch below.

The story so far

Although talk about the iWatch has been all over the map, many of the same hunches pop up again and again. For instance, the iWatch moniker has been steadily used as the potential product name, and Apple has been trademarking the label in several countries. (Of course, that could just mean that company is protecting itself in case someone else wants to use that product name.)

And while we've heard much speculation on its screen size, none of them have ever exceeded 1.5 inches diagonally. LG has also been mentioned several times as the manufacturer likely to build the display.

At WWDC 2014 in early June, Apple introduced the latest update to its mobile OS, iOS 8. With that announcement, CNET's Scott Stein believes that Apple subtly hinted at the iWatch's inevitable release. Especially when considering the OS' emphasis on health and fitness apps, and seamless multi-device collaboration.

But if Apple is going to launch the iWatch any time soon, it will face stiff competition. Several mobile companies have already released or announced their own smartwatches, including Sony's SmartWatch 2, Samsung's Gear Live, and LG's G Watch -- with the latter two sporting Google's OS for wearables, Android Wear.

When will we see it?

Unlike speculation on flagship phones, the Apple iWatch doesn't have a predecessor we can deduce a time frame from. It's important to keep in mind that we may never see an iWatch at all, and that Apple may have no interest in developing a smartwatch.

That being said, if it were to officially announce such a device, and the fact that the recent WWDC came and went without an iWatch announcement, we could hear about it perhaps during the next iPhone unveiling, which usually happens in either September or October.


The rumors

August 27, 2014

It'll debut alongside the iPhone 6 this September

With an Apple event expected to be held just weeks from now, Recode is reporting that the company will also launch a new wearable device. Whether or not this will be the iWatch we all are familiar with Recode doesn't state, but the gadget will apparently make "good use" of Apple's HomeKit and HealthKit platforms.

July 14, 2014

It'll cost $300 a pop

An analyst from Morgan Stanley, Katy Huberty, predicts that the iWatch is expected to come with a $300 price tag and will sell very well. Reported by Fortune, Huberty estimates that in the first year alone, Apple will move anywhere between 30 and 60 million units. Bolstering her estimations is the company's brand loyalty. While the likes of Samsung and LG have a customer retention rate of 77 and 41 percent, respectively, 90 percent of people who have Apple products keep them.

July 10, 2014

Delays push back launch to November

Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst from KGI Securities has pushed back estimates for the iWatch launch from October to November, citing challenges caused by new hardware and software development. As reported from 9to5mac, Kuo also added that the device will be waterproof and have a flexible AMOLED screen with Sapphire glass.

An Apple patent describes an iWatch type device.
Artist rendering of an Apple iWatch. Sarah Tew and Christopher MacManus/CNET

July 4, 2014

A crucial Tag Heuer hire

Further reinforcing rumors of a September/October 2014 iWatch launch, Apple has enlisted the expertise of Tag Heuer's vice president of sales and retail, Patrick Pruniaux. The hire from this Swiss luxury-watch maker was previously speculated by 9to5Mac, confirmed by Reuters, and announced on CNBC by Jean-Claude Biver. Biver heads the business LVMH conglomerate, which Tag Heuer is a subsidiary of. He told CNBC that Swiss watchmakers should keep an eye on Apple as a notable competitor.

June 22, 2014

Apple's bringing on the heavyweight testers

Due to a Kobe Bryant (of Los Angeles Lakers fame) sighting on Apple's Infinite Loop campus, many now are suspecting that the tech-giant is bringing in professional athletes to test out the iWatch. 9to5Mac also reports that Los Angeles King's Dustin Brown and a Boston Red Sox player are beta-testing the device as well. With names like these, I suppose it won't be long until the company will let me, CNET's 2013 Women's Ping Pong Champion, test out the iWatch too, right?

June 19, 2014

iWatch to come October with 2.5-inch screen

Reuters reported that Apple has tapped Taiwanese company Quanta to start manufacturing its smartwatch and is preparing for an October release. Citing anonymous sources, the publication went on to suspect that the iWatch will sport a 2.4-inch display that is "slightly rectangular," and is expected to ship about 50 million units within the first year.

June 10, 2014

It'll be your weightlifting coach

"Do you even lift, bro?" According to the latest speculation picked up from AppleInsider, your iWatch may be able to answer that question. That's because Apple filed a patent for a weightlifting sensor that can monitor and gather data when attached to a lifting bar. Officially titled, "Shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods," the sensor would be able to send the collected info to a mobile device, such as a watch, for display.

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April 9, 2014

You better start saving

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the iWatch is predicted to sport a hefty price tag upon its release. AppleInsider acquired a research note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, outlining possible customization options for the device, which include different combinations of materials, casings, bands, and display sizes (more specifically, Kuo believes the watch will feature a 1.3- or 1.5-inch touchscreen). At its most luxurious the iWatch could total to more than $1,000 (around £600 or AU$1,100). Now that's a lot of dough to be wearing on your wrist.

April 8, 2014

Look out Q3, it's coming for you

MacRumors, pulling from a deluge of new iWatch rumors initially speculated in the Taiwanese-based publication, Economic Daily News, reported that the smartwatch might see the light of day come the later part of this year in Q3. Supposedly, the device will be created by Quanta Computer, Richtek technology will be leading the hardware chips, TPK will manufacture the sapphire touch panels for the watch's display, and Samsung has been tapped to supply the processor. Hey, it takes a village, right?

February 6, 2014

Calling all guinea pigs

Now Hiring: User Studies Exercise Physiologist? So says a recent job posting by Apple, which 9to5Mac got wind of. The post outlines that Apple is looking to run user studies related to "cardiovascular fitness and energy expenditure." The post, which since has been taken down, also says candidates will need to apply "relevant knowledge to the design of products," so a fitness tracker/smartwatch may be in the cards. And remember, if you're ever asked: always take the blue pill.

moto-360-9697.jpg
Apple be warned: Google is making it easier for developers to create Android-based smartwatches with Android Wear. James Martin/CNET

February 5, 2014

iWatch out, we got a sleep researcher over here

Ex-Philips Research employee Roy J.E.M. Raymann has supposedly been hired by Apple as an "expert on sleep research." According to 9to5Mac, Raymann may help develop body tracking capabilities for the iWatch. In addition, his LinkedIn page reports that he earned a doctorate in the "interaction between sleep and thermoregulation." That sounds pretty intense considzZZzZzz...

February 4, 2014

It will sell...more than moderately well!

Back in October, an analyst estimated that the iWatch will only do okay, and that Apple will move about 5 to 10 million units. More recently however, Katy Huberty from Morgan Stanley predicted that the smartwatch will do much better than that. In an investors' note, Huberty said the iWatch will generate upwards of $17.5 billion in revenue for Apple in the first year. Quite a chunk of change.

February 2, 2014

Wave goodbye to the traditional battery

The new iWatch might not be charged by a regular ole' battery. At least, that's what The New York Times is speculating. Apparently, Apple is looking into alternative ways to power up the device, including solar power, magnetic induction (with a wireless charging plate), or even kinetic energy from a user's arm movements, which Apple patented a technology for in 2009.

January 20, 2014

LG may be making that screen afterall

Back in October 2013, there were rumors Apple tapped LG to be the secondary supplier for the iWatch's display. However, G for Games is now speculating that LG has finalized its partnership with Apple and is going to manufacture a 1.52-inch OLED display for the device, with production to begin sometime in late 2014.

January 7, 2014

It's going to be a bumpy ride

Apparently, the reason why there hasn't been an iWatch launch is because of a few manufacturing problems. At least, that's what The Information is reporting. From battery life issues to screen technology, users might have to wait until later this year to see the device -- or at least until Apple straightens these problems out.

October 29, 2013

LG plays second-string in the display department

LG is known for its top-notch displays, and according to the Korea Herald, Apple is a-lookin' and a-likin'. So much so that LG Display has apparently been tapped by Apple to be the secondary supplier for the iWatch's display. Its first choice? According to the news source, that title goes to a Taiwan company called RiTDisplay.

October 11, 2013

Apple's smartwatch could control your home, too

Claiming an Apple supplier told him so, industry analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald said that the iWatch could connect to your home as well as your iPhone. As such, you could adjust your house's temperature, turn the lights on and off, or control your home's entertainment system -- all through the iWatch. Given the proliferation of smart home appliances and connected home services, the idea that the iWatch may feature this functionality doesn't seem so far-fetched.

samsung-gear-live-1085-023.jpg
With the Samsung Gear Live (above), Galaxy Gear 2, Gear Fit, and Gear 2 Neo under Samsung's belt, Apple has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete. Josh Miller/CNET

October 7, 2013

The iWatch will sell...moderately well

Based on a Piper Jaffray survey, analyst Gene Munster estimated that if the iWatch were to cost $350 and could connect to the iPhone, Apple could sell between 5 million and 10 million iWatches during its debut year. Though that sounds like a lot, that really leaves only about 12 percent of current iPhone owners in the US who are willing to buy the smartwatch. Globally, that number lowers to 2 to 4 percent. Given these bleak numbers, however, Munster said that the device could still "potentially lead to a more meaningful new product category in wearable tech."

October 1, 2013

Three screen sizes are a charm

Citing "industry sources," the Korean news site Chosun Ilbo reported that the Apple iWatch may come in three different sizes. Plans of a 1.5-inch, 1.4-inch, and 1.3-inch model are supposedly in the works, as well as a flexible display that was previously rumored back in February.

July 14, 2013

'Helped wanted, inquire within'

Apple is apparently on a hiring frenzy. Citing "sources familiar with the matter," The Financial Times is reporting that the tech giant is "aggressively" hiring more employees to work on developing the iWatch. This may indicate that the gadget won't be ready for market until late next year.

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July 2, 2013

All your trademarks are belong to Apple

As the previous rumor stated, Apple trademarked the brand iWatch in Japan. However, both 9to5Mac and MacRumors are reporting that more filings have spread to several other countries, too, including: Mexico, Taiwan, Colombia, and Turkey. All were registered on June 3. It remains unknown, though, if the trademark gets any frequent flier miles from its world tour.

June 30, 2013

Sugoi! Trademark filings pop up in Japan

First it was Russia. Now Bloomberg has reported that Apple has traveled to the Land of the Rising Sun in order to trademark the moniker "iWatch." Filed with the Japan Patent Office, the report was made public at the end of June, though the actual paperwork was filled out earlier in the month. The product is categorized as a "handheld computer or watch device."

June 7, 2013

iWatch to come later end of 2013

Glen Yeung, an analyst from Citi, reported in an investor's note that production for the iWatch is rearing to go and that suppliers are waiting on Apple to give them the go-ahead to start making the iWatch. Furthermore, Yeung predicts that it is "increasingly likely" that the product will launch in the second half of this year, with a "go/no-go" decision finalized around June.

June 5, 2013

In Russia, trademark files you

Via 9to5Mac, reports from Russian newspaper Izvestia state that Apple has filed for an iWatch trademark at Rospatent, the country's patent and trademark office. If this rumor is true, it still doesn't mean that an iWatch is in the works. As CNET's Don Reisinger pointed out, sometimes companies file trademarks on brands just to "protect itself in the event it launches a product that would use that name."

lg-g-watch-nda-1026-010.jpg
Another smartwatch Apple has to compete with is the G Watch from LG. Josh Miller/CNET

May 20, 2013

May have 1.5-inch display

According to Taiwanese news outlet Economic Times (translate), Apple is eyeing 1.5-inch OLED screens manufactured by Ritek. It was also reported that Apple was originally looking at 1.8-inch displays, but deemed them too large. In addition, Economic Times claims that Foxconn, an Apple supplier, has received 1,000 trial orders for the iWatch already.

April 13, 2013

Apple board member offers crumb-size insight into the matter

At a meeting held by software company Intuit, Bill Campbell, who is an Apple board member and friend of the late Steve Jobs, hinted that Apple may have its eyes on wearable tech. Not going into specifics, he said that when it comes to future Apple devices, customers should expect "a lot of things going on with the application of technology to really intimate things." According to Bloomberg, Campbell specifically referred to glasses and watches as becoming just as "intimate as the cell phone was."

March 4, 2013

ETA: By the end of this year

Piling on to its February rumor, the same people who spoke to Bloomberg about Apple gathering a 100-person team for the iWatch also said that we can expect to see the final product by the end of 2013. Additional speculated features include checking location and map coordinates, as well as a pedometer.

February 21, 2013

We got ourselves a patent application!

Though it dates back to August 2011, a patent filed from Apple under the title " Bi-Stable Spring With Flexible Display" was discovered by AppleInsider. The patent describes a bendable touch-screen that can be rendered into a phone or worn on -- and here's where it gets juicy-- the wrist. And while the document doesn't specifically point out it will be used for a watch, it does state that the glass can carry out tasks like ordering a playlist or "reviewing a list of recent phone calls."

February 12, 2013

How many people does it take to make an iWatch? A hundred, apparently.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is rounding up a team of 100 employees to develop its smartwatch. Citing people who are "familiar with the company," two important members of this team include James Foster, Apple's senior director of engineering, and program manager Achim Pantfoerder, who has 13 Apple patents under his belt.

February 10, 2013

It may feature curved glass

The all-right-that's-at-least-more-legitimate-when-it-comes-to-tech-rumors New York Times reported that Apple is tinkering around with bendable glass in order to develop its iWatch. Fanning the flames of this rumor is the fact that earlier in the year, Corning Glass Technologies, which is featured in the iPhone, announced that it has created flexible Willow glass.

December 27, 2012

And so the rumors begin...

Citing a Chinese blog site called Tech163.com, Business Insider reports that Apple is working with Intel to create an iOS-toting watch. In addition to Bluetooth capabilities, the device will have a 1.5-inch OLED screen. So, why does this rumor hold more water than all the other fluff that comes out of the tech mill? Perhaps it's because in 2011, Apple released the iPod Nano, which can be fashioned into a watch, and the idea of an iWatch isn't that far-fetched.

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