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Apple gears up for entry into wearables

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple? wearable? smartwatch? sensor?

Apple Inc. is making an entrance into the wearables market with multiple smartwatches that will integrate as many as 10 sensors for tracking the user's vitals and movements. In line with the expected debut of the devices in October, the tech giant has designated manufacturers and production is scheduled in the next several months.

Wearables may be hot, but none of the devices on store shelves hits all the right marks. Perhaps Apple's wearables will change that. According to unnamed sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, Apple's wrist device will "address an overarching criticism of existing smartwatches that they fail to provide functions significantly different from that of a smartphone."

Many of today's smartwatches, such as the Pebble or Samsung Gear 2, are used as notification centres for nearby smartphones. They alert wearers to incoming messages, calls, email, and calendar appointments. Most can also interact with smartphone-based media players, fitness trackers, and other apps. Without the nearby smartphone, however, a lot of the features vanish. The Journal's sources didn't provide any clarity on just how Apple will solve this problem, but it is encouraging to know it is one of Apple's goals.

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Apple may have tipped its hand concerning wearables earlier this month when it previewed iOS 8. Part of the new operating system is an app called Health, which can cull the data generated by third-party fitness apps and devices and present it in a meaningful way. It stands to reason that Apple will eventually introduce its own device for collecting and collating fitness data for the Health app within iOS 8.

Reports concerning the "iWatch" have been circulating since early 2013, but it appears as though the device is closer than ever. Apple CEO Tim Cook said as much during the company's most recent quarterly earnings call with press and analysts. Cook indicated the second half of the year will be packed with new products and new product categories. The new products almost certainly include revised iPhones and iPads, and the new product category will be Apple's first wearables.

- Eric Zeman
??EE Times

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