While many rumors focus on the iPhone 6 and what Apple can do with a larger screen, there are millions of iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s owners that will still be using their current iPhone past the iPhone 6 release date.
Apple is not likely to forget these owners, and is reportedly working on the first major iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s accessory. There is no official name for this accessory, but rumors suggest it will require an iOS 8 update to communicate with the iPhone. The latest reports suggest it will show iPhone notifications, allow users to access Siri and track a variety of health and fitness information.
If this sounds a lot like a watch or a fitness band you’re right, but in Apple fashion we expect a little bit more than users can currently get from Pebble or a Fitbit. Rumors and analysts refer to this iPhone accessory as the iWatch, but that name is not something Apple has commented on. It is merely a continuation of the “i” naming scheme that Apple uses for mobile devices.
Apple is rarely the first to market, instead the company waits until it can offer the best product they can and deliver it to the consumer. Tim Cook recently told The Wall Street Journal why Apple takes so long to launch a new product saying,
“You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn’t really deep and, as a consequence, these things don’t do very well.”
With Apple’s big iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s accessory, owners will likely see a product that went through multiple versions and re-births before it arrives on store shelves. This official Apple accessory will work with a new iPhone 6, and will may also work with the iPhone 4s which also uses Bluetooth Low Energy, a more power efficient version of Bluetooth that will likely be a requirement for this accessory.
The latest iWatch rumor from China Times, translated by GforGames suggests Apple is using a special manufacturing process called SiP, which points to a smaller iWatch. This technology puts multiple parts into a single piece so the internals of the iWatch will take up less space. This is key to the success of an iWatch as many of the current watch devices are thick and come with a very large watchface.
This process of packing multiple parts into a single part to make things smaller will likely play a role in packing the iWatch full of sensors to help track fitness and health in ways the Apple M7 motion sensing chip in the iPhone 5s cannot. Many iWatch rumors refer to the health tracking capabilities we expect to see in iOS 8.
Apple will announce new iOS features at WWDC 2014 on June 2nd according to a company press release. This event will undoubtedly include the first look at iOS 8, the next version of software that will run on the iPhone and iPad. Expect a free iOS 8 update for the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s later this year. Apple’s traditional timing suggests numerous test versions before a public iOS 8 release this fall. Expect iOS 8 and the rumored HealthBook app to play a key role in the iWatch.
While the size of the rumored iWatch is important, the really interesting part about this rumor is that Apple is already reportedly producing the iWatch in small quantities and plans for a release this fall. According to the GforGames translation of this report, Apple may sell as many as 55 million devices iWatch units in 2014, with shipments starting in the second quarter.
This report lines up with rumors that Apple is planning to bring an iWatch style device to the market later this year. Apple may announce the iWatch, or whatever they end up calling this accessory, at an iPhone 6 event, but there is little doubt that it will work with older versions of the iPhone as well.
Apple currently sells an iPhone 5s case, an Apple TV and a collection of docks, cables and adapters as official Apple made accessories. The Apple TV is a fairly popular option and shows how Apple could position an iWatch as a standalone product line, that works best with an iPhone or iPad. While many fitness bands work with the iPhone or Android, an Apple iWatch is not something that Android users will likely be able to use.