Out of the Rumor Mill, Into the Market: On the Lookout for Apple’s iWatch

Alison K. Lanier

The much-awaited Apple iWatch finally has a release date, according to MacWorld UK, alongside many other excited and speculating articles across the tech sphere. With waves of wearable tech on the horizon, from Google Glass to Avegant Glyph, the iWatch is not by any means lonely on the smartwatch battlefield. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear 2, Sony’s SmartWatch 2, and LG’s G Watch are all contenders, but it’s the iWatch that has so many commentators holding their breath.

Whispers, Speculation, and Potential Price Tags

The rumors about Apple’s newest must-have device circle around the iOS 8 release and the update’s telling emphasis, according to CNET’s analysis, on multi-device connections, like that which would be helpful in say, orchestrating a personal health meter self-contained within the iPhone Apple universe.

Nvate Apple iWatch smartwatch iWatch Todd Hamilton

Designer Todd Hamilton came up with his rendition of an iWatch concept. There is speculation as to what the actual watch will look like, since Apple has not released a concept image.
Credit: Todd Hamilton

The price tag though, says AppleInsider, will not be insubstantial. As CNET puts it, it is “a lot of dough to be wearing on your wrist.” The cost comes in, for one estimate, at $1,000. However, that figure was quoted for the “most luxurious” model. And, knowing Apple’s much-lauded knowledge of marketing, you can be sure that a commercially viable iWatch must be forthcoming. Then again, there are those out there who will pay $1,000 for an interesting bracelet even if it isn’t also a phone, health-tracker, and a hot new piece of Apple tech—though they probably aren’t the niche audience Apple is pursuing here.

What will it Look Like?

The phone will feature, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo as quoted by AppleInsider, a variety of customization options, including a choice of “materials, casings, bands, and display sizes,” with a 1.3-1.5-inch touch screen.

The design, as per norm for Apple, is expected to be sleek and formed, with a rumored curved, flexible OLED display similar to that developed by Nokia’s 5.9-inch foldable panels. These foldable, 5.9-inch panels were unveiled at the Display Week Conference in San Diego in June, according to the International Business Times. Developed by Semiconductor Energy Laboratory, Advanced Film Device Inc., and Nokia Corp., the screens can be “folded down the middle, while the other one can be folded in two places similar to a pamphlet.” However the fold is not entirely easy and paper-like; the single-fold panel can only fold at a curvature of 2 mm and the two-fold panel can reach 4 mm.

Although the International Business Times says that Apple has been publically critical of OLED tech, it now seems that the company will be reversing its judgment by incorporating the foldable screen into the curving watch design. The incorporation of OLED tech, though, is not limited to the watch, says the International Business Times. As they reported, Apple may use the patents to create a “pressable” panel and create a flexible display for phones.

A Less-Than-Open Playing Field

Apple’s entrance into the smartwatch club may not, in a more troublesome vein, be alone among already-issued, like-minded patents. In one potential flare-up, indicated by CNET, the watch’s rumored—as is everything else about the device—capability to track workout data would bring it into conflict with a granted patent. This existing patent effectively does just what Apple’s watch is speculated to, tracking workout data via a sensor installed, in this case, in the user’s shoe.

CNET reported that Apple unveiled its new brainchild app for managing health and fitness all-in-one, a beast aptly dubbed “Health.” Imagine the possibilities of bringing together FitBit sleekness and ease with Apple’s pervasive penchant for becoming indispensable—not to mention, “a bit of that Apple polish” as CNET says, keeping a helpful eye on the consumer’s lifestyle. That is, if it doesn’t step on patent toes in the process.

An October Release?

The device is expected to be officially unveiled around the same time that the new iPhones are usually launched, in September or October, various sources agree. The Mirror said that Japanese Newspaper Nikkei published a report to that effect, while the designer Todd Hamilton posted his vision of the iWatch on his blog.

But in the end, there is not much in the product’s individual components that could really be called original. The smartwatch arrived already, as has the fitness tracker as Health promises to incorporate. It challenges existing patents, incorporates aspects of a Fitbit or Nike FuelBand—which Apple’s CEO Tim Cook reportedly wears—and enters into an already-established category established by its not-insubstantial competitors.

However, the expectations for the new little gadget, as the enthusiasm around these whirling, well-founded rumors attest, indicate that the watch promises to be the best of its kind. Just as Apple established the benchmark user-friendly, sleek-and-slim model of phone and laptop, the iWatch, entering into the wearable tech landscape, might well create the same useful and popular benchmark there.

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