Apple Inc. is planning to release a version of its smartwatch later this year that can connect directly to cellular networks, a move designed to reduce the device’s reliance on the iPhone, people familiar with the matter said.
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.
Sitting pricing — and cellular plans — aside, this is a product I am definitely interested in. I go for bike rides on a regular basis1 and always take my iPhone 7 Plus with me. While having music and podcasts stream from my phone is much easier than the watch, safety is the primary reason. I don’t go anywhere I can’t be reached by my loved ones, and on a bike, having the ability to call 911 can become a very real thing in a heartbeat.
A cellular Apple Watch would be great in this scenario. The Plus is a giant pain the ass to take with me, and I’d love to leave it behind.
Oh, and then there’s this, by John Gruber:
It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal this could be. No mention in Businessweek’s report, though, of the all-new form factor that I’ve heard is coming for this year’s new watches. That tidbit came from an unconfirmed little birdie, though, so I wouldn’t bet the house on it.
I’d dig a thinner, lighter Watch, but I’d take more battery life and LTE first, and cramming those things into a smaller chassis would be really impressive.
- And runs on a very irregular basis. ↩