Watching out for the Apple iWatch

Ever since the first appearance of the smart watch, tech fans have speculated about what kind of wrist-wearable device Apple might create. The company is known for entering digital categories after others have pioneered them—and then turning them into mainstream successes (see: iPod and iPad).

The rumor mill has really revved up in past weeks. An Apple event on Sept. 9 is widely expected. If it occurs, tech geeks everywhere will be looking for an announcement of the next iPhone—the iPhone 6?—but a smart watch could be introduced as well.

Nothing has been confirmed, of course, and Apple is the most secretive company in the tech world. But here's what the rumors say, and how we came to to this point in the hype curve.


In 2013, stories began to pop up about various Apple patents that pointed to a smart watch. Perhaps most significant was that the company began to patent the term “iWatch” in various countries. Then earlier this year came the news that one Apple patent used the name “iTime.” The same patent shows clues as to what the device might look like and do: It has smart sensors built right into the wristband, and the central electronic device can be removed, presumably for use as a standalone product. (It looked a lot like an iPod Nano.)

iOS 8

The company’s latest version of its mobile operating system seems made for a smart watch, especially one with a fitness focus. As we pointed out when iOS 8 was announced, Apple's new Health app pulls together data from multiple fitness apps, using such information as heart rate, miles walked, and glucose levels to provide a single, comprehensive look at your well-being. Sure, you could just use the new app on a smart phone, but it sounds tailor-made for the fitness-tracking capabilities and the easy accessibility of a smart watch.

Check our latest reviews of new smart watches.

Apple is tooling up

Analysts can look at how a company is spending its money to glean details about coming products. According to one observer contacted by AppleInsider, the company has been spending huge amounts on components, advertising deals, and research ahead of the anticipated Sept. 9 announcement, lending weight to the idea that more than the iPhone 6 is ready to launch. Other analysts argue that an iWatch introduction may not happen this year because of manufacturing delays.

What else?

Other rumors suggest that the iWatch may come in two different screen sizes—1.6 and 1.8 inches—and with an option for a tough sapphire display. And as long ago as last year, The New York Times suggested that the display might be curved.

Which, if any, of these speculations will turn out to be true?

Possibly not one of them. Apple is well known for keeping its secrets. Bear in mind that none of this has yet been confirmed by Apple, not the iPhone announcement, the so-called iWatch—or even the event on Sept. 9. (Assuming it does take place, lots of journalists will be scrambling to book last-minute trips to Cupertino, Calif.)

All of that said, it seems almost inevitable that Apple will enter the wearables market with a smart watch, as so many other tech giants have done recently, among them Sony, LG, Motorola, and perhaps most enthusiastically, Samsung. The big question now is: How long will it take?

Watch for our phone expert's take on Apple iPhone 6 rumors, coming up soon!

—Carol Mangis

Copyright © 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.