Apple’s third-generation watch, slated for release later this year, will have an all-new form factor that includes an LTE chip for cellular connectivity. The report comes from Bloomberg, which cites people familiar with the matter, and suggests that Apple is finally following through on its long-standing plans to release and cellular Apple Watch after hitting roadblocks last year.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber notes that “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.” The enhancement would obviate the need to wirelessly tether your smartwatch to an iPhone in order to use GPS, stream music, and text, but it will likely require a standalone cellular plan.
“It would be a game changer,” said Gene Munster, co-founder of Loup Ventures, to Bloomberg. “If they could deliver an experience that isn’t tethered to an iPhone, it could kick start a new direction for the business.” Still, he’s concerned about battery life in such a device.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the LTE chips will be manufactured by Intel as opposed to Qualcomm, the other major chipmaker which is notably mired in a contentious, globe-spanning legal dispute with Apple. As for the cellular connectivity, people familiar with Apple’s plans have added that the iPhone maker is currently in talks with major US and European carriers. Wireless carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon will sell the device.
All of the aforementioned companies have declined to comment and confirm the report, however. Other rumors surrounding the forthcoming Apple Watch have suggested that it will feature new health monitors, improved battery life (which is necessary to support cellular functions), and other internal enhancements.
The newest Apple Watch is due to launch this fall, though there’s always the possibility of delay.