Rumor: Apple to Release Smartwatch in Q3 2014


Nothing’s certain in the realm of rumors, but Apple Insider has highlighted a report published Tuesday in China’s Economic Daily News that claims the supply chain has been finalized for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to manufacture its heavily rumored smartwatch. The report includes a good number of details about the as-yet-unannounced device, including that the company is planning for a release date in the third quarter of this year.

The report says the “iWatch” — as it might be called — will contain high-tech sensors to detect a wearer’s heart rate and blood pressure, among other metrics. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this rumor, but it fits nicely with the leaked Healthbook body-monitoring app for iPhone, which will be able to track things like activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, and weight. If Apple does make a smartwatch with health sensors in it, it would presumably send any information it collected to the Healthbook app.

The report from the Economic Daily News suggests the smartwatch will be built by Taiwan’s Quanta Computer, and that 65 million units will be produced in the first year. It will contain custom chips designed by Apple, with some of the chips being manufactured by rival Samsung (SSNLF.PK). The glass screen will be made of sapphire, according to the report, which Apple has begun using on small sections of its other products, like the rear camera in the iPhone 5 and 5S, as well as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.

Manufacturers Foxconn and Inventec were apparently considered for the iWatch manufacturing contract, but Quanta managed to grab it up exclusively. However, other Taiwanese companies have reportedly been tapped to make parts of the watch, like the touchscreen controls, main assembly, and integrated circuit and printed circuit boards.

While Apple still hasn’t announced a smartwatch, rumors about the device have been circulating for years. Meanwhile, competitors like the Pebble Smartwatch and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear have hit the market, but haven’t taken off in a meaningful way. Last month, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) stoked the smartwatch flames when the company announced that it’s working on an operating system called Android Wear, which will adapt its phone software for smaller screens on watch faces. Motorola and LG have announced that they’re already making devices that run Android Wear.

Another clue that Apple is in fact working on a smartwatch has come in the form of some of the hires the company has made over the past few years. It’s brought on several high-profile people in the world of fashion, as well as health experts, who could all be working on an Apple-made smartwatch. And most recently, a different report this week stated that an Apple smartwatch might include a UV light exposure sensor that would be able to warn users about prolonged or dangerous sun exposure.

Of course, all of this is speculation, and any report coming out of a newspaper that’s not translated into English is difficult to verify. But when you find this much smoke over this many years, there’s probably a fire somewhere.

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