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Apple Plans To Release a Cellular-Capable Watch To Break iPhone Ties (bloomberg.com) 92

According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning to release a version of the Apple Watch later this year that can connect directly to cellular networks, a move designed to reduce the device's reliance on the iPhone. From the report: Currently, Apple requires its smartwatch to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download directions in maps, and send messages while on the go. Equipped with LTE chips, at least some new Apple Watch models, planned for release by the end of the year, will be able to conduct many tasks without an iPhone in range, the people said. For example, a user would be able to download new songs and use apps and leave their smartphone at home. Intel Corp. will supply the LTE modems for the new Watch, according to another person familiar with the situation. Apple is already in talks with carriers in the U.S. and Europe about offering the cellular version, the people added. The carriers supporting the LTE Apple Watch, at least at launch, may be a limited subset of those that carry the iPhone, one of the people said.

Apple Plans To Release a Cellular-Capable Watch To Break iPhone Ties

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  • I'd have killed for this twenty years ago. Now days audio transmission seems almost incidental to what one wants out of a mobile device. On the other hand, this might make a great flip phone killer/safety device for the elderly. I've fallen and I can't load angry birds!
    • by mikael ( 484 )

      They were around at least a decade ago. I bought a novelty watch that needed a SIM card and could make phone calls. The only problem was that the screen was so thick that it had to be detachable to recharge and would get pulled off just by general movement of the arm.

    • Aside from the fact that Apple's watches are semi-functional jewellery pieces, there is no reason for me to want one of these.

      Whenever I get a phone, I make it a point to give it a wallet case, so that my cards & phone go together. If I get called, I typically pick up the phone, put it on speaker and start talking. Or near my ear, if I'm surrounded by others. But holding my wrists near my ear would be rather inconvenient. Yeah, Apple might decide to encourage people to use their iPhone 7 Blueto

      • If I get called, I typically pick up the phone, put it on speaker and start talking.

        So why not use a smart watch then? That's exactly how taking calls on an Apple Watch works - why would you hold it up to your ear??!!?

        It simply starts off in speaker mode and you use it just like you would a phone in that way. It's as loud as you need it to be and it picks up your voice just fine.

        But I doubt that I could do FaceTime well w/ the watch

        Actually I don't doubt that would work pretty well, I think it would be e

        • FaceTime Audio? Why come up w/ a glorified name for voice calls?

          One instance this watch might be useful - if one has clothes w/o pockets (for phones). One of the rare moments that happens is while swimming, so such a thing should ideally be waterproof as well, for those people who can't live a minute w/o their phones.

          • FaceTime Audio? Why come up w/ a glorified name for voice calls?

            Because it's an all-digital direct-connection voice call that does not go through normal phone channels, or things like international call charges...

            So it needs some other name. Why not that one? Just like Skype is also a a good term for a phone call using that app.

            One instance this watch might be useful - if one has clothes w/o pockets (for phones).

            Or you just want to leave your phone somewhere in the house and not carry it around with you, w

  • by williamyf ( 227051 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @08:35PM (#54944449)

    For apple, this may be the first step towards a world where, if you so desire, the iWatch IS the phone, and the iPad (with an LTE modem and adequate SW, of course) is the screen for said phone.

    So, when you are on the go with the iWatch only (say, excercising, trecki9ng, or, for the ladies, dancing with an ultra small dress and an ultrasmall purse), you get basic phone functionality from the watch (voice Calls, SMS receive, push notifications, alerts, preset answers) over a narrowband low power 4G connection, and when the iWatch is close to the iPad, the iPad becomes the full fat phone (including a wideband LTE Channel) and uses the SIM from the watch...

    Of course, I am not saying apple will do this this autum*. Only apple know IF they will do it, and WHEN they will do it. But that, IMHO, will be an unbeatable combo, and will be the day when these SmartWatches come on their own...

    Took a long while, I was asking for this in 2015....

    * Otoño Coño

    • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @09:04PM (#54944539)
      Admittedly it's been a serious engineering challenge for Apple. At the moment, with BLE, you're struggling to get a day's runtime out of it, and now they're strapping a power-guzzling LTE modem onto it as well. A few design compromises [mainlinemenswear.co.uk] have had to be made in order to accommodate the additional power draw.
    • For apple, this may be the first step towards a world where, if you so desire, the iWatch IS the phone, and the iPad (with an LTE modem and adequate SW, of course) is the screen for said phone.

      The market for what you describe is very limited compared to the market for cell phones. Apple knows this. And the market is limited because of multiple factors. Cost, and the hassle of carrying a larger device AND a smaller device, will work against such an arrangement being embraced by the masses. What I envision, described below, will be FAR superior to your scheme, for too many reasons to enumerate here.

      What I want is a pair of eyeglasses which acts as a large screen, with a pocketable device that conta

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Until that happens, the watch is ( for me ) a device of limited utility, and not of interest regardless of price.

    • Until that happens, the watch is ( for me ) a device of limited utility, and not of interest regardless of price.

      Um, well, you can get that, but unfortunately, it wouldn't be Apple. At least, not yet.

  • Don't we need a decent sized antenna to participate in cell network?
    • Cellular networks in cities have gotten stronger with more coverage. So It's practical to make device that has simpler networking needs now, that can get away with a smaller antenna with less of a power draw for receiving and transmitting.

      People only think about hardware on devices improving, forgetting that the network is constantly improving also.

  • Is it just me? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @09:21PM (#54944603)

    ...or is anyone else also concerned about the long-term safety of a fairly high-powered microwave transmitter strapped to the same location of your wrist for days/months/years?

  • I've admittedly not been keeping track of smart watches in general, but I'm really surprised that Apple hasn't done this (a GSM-capable watch) yet. It seems like a case of being dragged into it by their competitors.

    My embarrassingly old Samsung Gear S (not an S2 or S3) has a sim card, can do all of that (in TFA) and originate and receive calls. And if I forget my phone at home, calls to the phone are automatically routed to the watch. (This was my primary use case, as I'm often leaving my phone either at

    • Why any surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @12:14AM (#54945107)

      I'm really surprised that Apple hasn't done this (a GSM-capable watch) yet. It seems like a case of being dragged into it by their competitors.

      No, it's a case of competitors trying to get out ahead of Apples obvious long-term roadmap and still failing anyway.

      The reason of for failure of course is that Apple makes products that provide useful features but are still basically usable by non-technical people.

      People have done smart-watches with cellular ability before but they suck to use and they certainly suck battery life down. In any case, they simply did not provide good compromises to add that feature.

      It was as obvious Apple was going to add cellular capability eventually as it was they were waiting do to so until the battery issue would not impact the design or battery life greatly. They apparently are close to that point as technology and signal coverage improves (no need for a giant antenna or large power drain for reception if cellular reception is strong enough to begin with).

      • Wait what? Wishful thinking at best. My watch is first generation, doesn't even have wireless charging or a forward facing camera like the very next generation after it, and it makes and receives calls fine, isn't bulky, has no antenna sticking out, gets just as good reception as my phone and lasts two days or more on a charge, depending on what I'm doing with it. (which is actually better battery usage than I get with the phone) And it's not hard to use at all. Calls can be made with voice commands, s

        • Whatever you say Jessie Venutura [google.com].

          By way of reference, I consider the smaller Apple Watch to be overly large for a watch but I still wear it because I enjoy the feature set. Anything larger is pure Mayor Of Geekville.

          • By way of reference, I consider the smaller Apple Watch to be overly large for a watch but I still wear it because I enjoy the feature set. Anything larger is pure Mayor Of Geekville.

            I take it you've never owned a real outdoor watch, or, say, a mechanical watch with stopwatch function. Or a diver's watch. All of which are larger and thicker than the one on my wrist now. The Apple watch is more petite, it's true. I have noticed that most of the owners at work are women, but I thought that was due to the "it just works" mindshare, the idea that you didn't have to be technical to own one.

            • I take it you've never owned a real outdoor watch, or, say, a mechanical watch with stopwatch function

              I have owned all of those, they were also too large. In particular I had a Garmin GPS/altimeter watch ages ago, it was nice but did I wear it when not hiking? No. It was not practical for general use.

              When I was a kid I had of course along with everyone else the Casio calculator watch, which was also in retrospect absurdly large [google.com].

              Simply put MOST PEOPLE DO NOT WEAR SUCH LARGE WATCHES. Further re-enforcing

  • Apple's inspiration for this [youtube.com]

    "All of this for $24.99!"
  • and I'm happy, a week on a charge, I can read the screen in day light, It doesn't do everything that the apple watch can do but it is a watch and it tells time.

    Even better the Garmin doesn't light up in the middle of the night destroying my night vision. I'm also not concerned about getting it wet.

    I gave apple a chance and they just couldn't deliver.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

      and I'm happy, a week on a charge, I can read the screen in day light

      I can read my Apple Watch first gen screen in daylight just fine.

      Even better the Garmin doesn't light up in the middle of the night

      Neither does the Apple Watch if you tell it not to.

      I'm also not concerned about getting it wet.

      I wash my Apple Watch off in the sink after a workout, and have swum with it on before - the first gen watch is OK in water up to 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes. The second gen Apple Watch is officially waterproof

    • Totally agreed. Garmin makes the best all-around smart watches on the market when you consider battery life, readability, and durability. And I happen to think my Tactix Bravo is a much nicer-looking timepiece than the Apple Gummi-Lego watch.
    • Man, you're just another trend-chaser. My sundial hasn't needed a charge since 7600 BC.

      And it never lights up in the middle of the night destroying my night vision.

  • I've never understood wearing a smart watch when you already have a smart phone on your person. A smart watch with a cell connection doesnt make much more sense to me though when one could just carry a phone that does more and is easier to use.

    I guess for those wearing clothes without pockets or with pockets that are impractical to use it makes sense...

  • The hardware connectivity isn't the issue. The OS and apps will have to be modified and enhanced extensively to allow the watch to function without the phone. For me, the Apple Watch is primarily a notification extension of the phone. Notifications go to it, which in many cases is all I need to see about a particular notification (calendar event, message, email, whatever). In the other cases it prompts me to look at the phone to actually consume the information or reply. This has been the design paradigm

    • Sounds to me like this will have issues similar to the just discontinued iPod Nano. I just got one, and it has barely 6 apps, and nothing else can be installed on it. To transfer songs or data, one has to connect it to a PC or Mac via iTunes. This watch will probably have similar constraints, and one will have to connect it to a computer to do anything on it. I'm guessing typing will be out of the question, so it will probably be some speech recognition that would have to convert to iMessages, assumi
      • Sounds to me like this will have issues similar to the just discontinued iPod Nano. I just got one, and it has barely 6 apps, and nothing else can be installed on it. To transfer songs or data, one has to connect it to a PC or Mac via iTunes. This watch will probably have similar constraints,

        You are drawing a lot of conclusions about this rumored new watch from a product that has changed little in the 12 years since its introduction(*), and completely ignored the existing product it would be based on.

        IOW you are full of shit - so nothing new from you since you were introduced.

        (*) And why would you change a product that is so good that a moronic Apple hater just got one for himself

  • ...Android counterparts already do.
    Not sure if it's a good strategy though... problem with smartwatches using cellular networks is that you don't have enough space to put a big enough battery to allow that and last through the day. Power draw becomes an issue.

    Apple watch will have some advantage in that the WatchOS probably has a plenty optimized power saving mode and whatnot, but I don't imagine it being too different since the major power draw comes from the cellular chip and there's not much you can do a

  • Phone is in pocket since walking perhaps hands occupied. Alerts easy to view on watch to evaluate if should react quickly or later. If need a quick response can do voice or simple presets like "ok", "busy now ", etc... Convenient BT remote for selfies now can participate in pics. Can use the phone finder too when misplace. Pairs with BT chest strap HRM for jogging . Has built in HRM for more stationary checking. Helpful to proactively manage limited battery. Put in standby when not using. It is current
  • At a technical level, this makes no sense for Apple. One of the biggest criticisms of the watch has been the poor battery life and the fact that it often cannot cope with a full day of use without running flat.

    With that being an established fact, why on earth would Apple contemplate adding a power-hungry cellular transceiver in to it?

    As we know, rumours of the iPhone8 have been circulating for some time now. Apple are notoriously secretive because they like the publicity value of being able to release
  • "K.I.T.T., Get over here !"
  • The obvious use case for this is the fitness market. If you use something like Strava, right now you need a fitness device + a phone capable of talking to the fitness device. Once a fitness device has a dellular capability, it can get your running/cycling segments, upload activities, do live tracking without needing a phone to talk to the servers. This will be a real killer for the Garmins and the Polars of this world. The other good use case would be health monitoring - for the diabetics, etc. There are pr

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