February 12, 2013
New York Times And Wall Street Journal Predict Apple “iWatch”
Forget the TV; Apple’s next big thing may be much smaller.
Since Apple released the sixth generation iPod Nano in September 2010, many have wondered if Apple was seriously preparing to set their sights on watches as the next industry to revolutionize and dominate. Yesterday, the New York Times’ Nick Bilton claimed that Apple is currently experimenting with such a wristwatch made of curved glass and built to run a version of iOS. Citing Sources Familiar With the Matter, Bilton says it’s this curved glass that will set the new Apple watch apart from other recent entrants into this market. Then, like clockwork, the Wall Street Journal (another news sources with rumored inside ties to Apple’s PR team) released their own report, saying not only is Apple experimenting with wearable computing, they’ve also discussed these plans with Foxconn.
Now that so many have pondered a rumored “iWatch” for so long, a few assumed, inevitable features are expected to ship with this device. A wearable device from Apple could include Siri functionality, making scheduling that next meeting or calling your mother as easy as speaking into your wrist. Bilton takes this further, suggesting that an Apple-branded watch could even take advantage of Apple’s new Passbook software, allowing wearers to make mobile payments with these watches. Like other watches and wearable devices currently on the market, an Apple watch could also be used for fitness, tracking steps, burned calories and even heartbeats. Yet, for all these features which are widely assumed to ship with this watch, Bilton claims it’s the bendable glass display which will be the major selling point of these watches.
Corning, Apple’s current supplier of glass for their iOS devices, announced last June that they had solved the flexible display conundrum with a project called “Willow Glass.”
Speaking to Bilton, Corning’s CTO Pete Bocko said Willow Glass took his company more than ten years to perfect and reach a point where they can deliver it to customers. “You can certainly make it wrap around a cylindrical object and that could be someone’s wrist,” said Bocko in an interview with Bilton. “Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass.”
Yet, for as far as Willow Glass can bend, Bocko says the ultimate challenge is creating a material capable of standing up to the toughest of mechanical challenges, which is the human body.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has discussed these plans with Foxconn, who has also been working on processes to make devices even smaller and more power efficient. It is suggested that Foxconn could use what they’ve learned in these areas to help build an Apple-branded wrist watch. It’s widely expected that this device would work as a companion to the iPhone. A similar device has been receiving a lot of attention lately as an iPhone companion. The Pebble smart watch began life as a super-successful Kickstarter campaign, but later ran into production issues. At a keynote during this year’s CES, the makers of Pebble announced that existing Pebble orders would soon begin shipping, and new orders would immediately follow.
Facing stiff competition on the smartphone front and falling stock prices, many are looking to Apple to do something truly different in 2013. An iPhone compatible smart watch may be one of these truly different products meant to get fans excited about Apple once more.
Image Credit: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich / Shutterstock