There are still more questions than answers when it comes to details about the smart watch Apple seems poised to debut on September 9. In fact, nobody seems completely sure that it will be a smartwatch at all. All the rumor mill seemed certain of was that the company would be unveiling some kind of wearable device.
If the rumors are on target, Apple may show the world a wearable device that runs on its iOS operating system a week from Tuesday, along with its eagerly awaited iPhone 6.
The Re/code news site reported Wednesday that Apple's first wearable might come into the world along with the iPhone 6; previous reports had the wearable not appearing until October. But Re/code’s report never specifically said the wearable was a smart watch and never referred to it by name, despite the fact that interested observers are almost universally calling it the iWatch.
To add to the intrigue, for months designers (who weren’t necessarily affiliated with Apple) circulated mock-ups that might represent the fabled wearable. When all is said and done, nobody outside Cupertino knows whether the product will be a smart watch, a fitness band or something in between -- or beyond.
A Fitting Device?
Apple hasn’t introduced a product in a new category since the iPad tablet in 2010. The company is seen by some as being in the creative doldrums. Meanwhile, Google, LG, Motorola and Samsung have come out with their own smart watches -- in some cases, more than one model.
The field of fitness bands is no less crowded. Fitbit's Flex, Jawbone's Up and Nike's Fuelband, have set the standard and captured the market in that category. Some have speculated that the best way for Apple to crowd into this market would be to leverage Healthkit, its platform for tracking users' health data, and HomeKit, its new platform for connected home devices such as thermostats and smart locks. With Nike gearing down on its Fuelband, maybe Apple sees a void to be filled.
Ready for a Splash
Other possibilities abound. Might the Apple wearable be centered around music? The 2010 iPod Nano had a 1.5-inch multi-touch display and a clip that could be hooked to a shirt collar or belt loop; it wasn’t long before customers fashioned their own bracelet attachments, indirectly turning the Nano into a prototype smart watch.
With iPod shipments dropping precipitously, incorporating iPod hardware into a smart watch could be one way to help revive the brand.
And finally, what role will Siri play in all of this? Observers are presuming that the digital voice assistant made famous by the iPhone will make an appearance in the mystery wearable. Those reading the tea leaves especially deeply are taking Apple’s cryptic words from earlier this week -- "We wish we could say more" -- as evidence that Siri will do the talking for the new product.
One thing that most outsiders agree on is that to make a splash with a wearable, Apple will have to do things other smart watches can’t. What might that be? Stay tuned.