Apple Watch with built-in cellular data unlikely to arrive this year - report

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in Apple Watch
Though Apple apparently wants to place a cellular radio in a future Apple Watch model, technical limitations may prevent the capability from appearing in this year's expected update, a new report claims.




Citing talks with mobile carriers in the U.S. and Europe, Bloomberg reported on Thursday that executives from Apple conceded that a new Apple Watch with cellular data "may not be ready for release this year." Officials from the company reportedly said that the earliest timeframe for the launch of such a product would be December.

As such, it's believed that the feature could be delayed to a future model, perhaps arriving in 2017. The main culprit apparently keeping cellular data from the Apple Watch: battery life.

To combat the issue, Apple is alleged to be "studying low-power cellular data chips for future smartwatch generations," the report said.

The details reaffirm claims made earlier this month by well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that Apple plans to launch a second-generation Apple Watch later this year with GPS and barometer. Kuo said he expects LTE support to arrive in a 2017 revision of the Apple Watch.

Dedicated GPS would help make the Apple Watch a more standalone device, negating the need for a tethered iPhone for accurate location data.

Combined with the limited onboard storage of the Apple Watch, the addition of GPS could allow runners, cyclists and other fitness enthusiasts to have more accurate information, such as pace and distance, without the need to carry an iPhone during a workout.

Apple is expected to hold a media event in a matter of weeks, on Sept. 7, to unveil its next-generation "iPhone 7." It's likely that the company could also unveil a second-generation Apple Watch at the same event.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    Not interested in paying for yet another data plan. Besides it's a dumb idea.
    jony0williamlondon
  • Reply 1 of 53
    schlackschlack Posts: 676member
    more important than cellular connection is battery life and bio sensors.
    albegarcDeelronjony0nolamacguyjay-tAirunJae
  • Reply 3 of 53
    sricesrice Posts: 114member
    Seems like the cellular radio could be off usually .. and only away from phone would you need to turn it on (going for run without phone).  You know you'll chew through your watch battery faster when using cellular, so act accordingly and be ready to charge more often.  /soup until the battery tech and cellular efficiency gets better.

    Was really hoping for more medical metrics (O2 levels, blood pressure, etc.)
    albegarcjony0jay-tlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 53
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,554member
    The few times I've used my Apple Watch as a "phone", I've felt like an idiot. Awkwardly holding my wrist up to my face, people complaining that they can't hear me -- plus it's not a very ergonomic position to hold your arm like that.

    I'd prefer them add some more battery to it and beef up the health features.
    edited August 2016 albegarcDeelronjony0nolamacguyAirunJae
  • Reply 5 of 53
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,701member
    Power hungry cellular feature needs different approach. Part of wrist band or something else that go along with watch. Anyone can integrate cell modem on watch chip but to do it efficiently and with several days of battery power available makes it kind of star-trek gadget. Will come but not soon. It's like people want NASA to get to planet Mars with human landing. It will happen but not soon.
    edited August 2016 albegarcnolamacguylolliverAirunJae
  • Reply 6 of 53
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    I've yet to have a really compelling reason to have Cellular on my smartwatch.. just a battery drain, when I've always got my phone or wifi.. so it's a MEH to me if it ever comes.

    I'd just disable it anyway. Like I wanna PAY MORE for a cell plan for my WATCH? umm.. no.. thanks.. I'll stick with the way it's at..
    edited August 2016 williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 53
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,209member
    mazda 3s said:
    The few times I've used my Apple Watch as a "phone", I've felt like an idiot. Awkwardly holding my arm up to my wrist up to my face, people complaining that they can't hear me -- plus it's not a very ergonomic position to hold your arm like that.
    I concur. However, there is more to cell connection than phone calls. Cell data transfer in minute quantities could be enormously helpful for other things. When the B&N nook came out, it came with standalone cell connection for free via AT&T.

    For Apple Watch, I agree the battery life is most valuable, so perhaps simply managing how and when it connects makes this work. I see a lot of value in an emergency feature that is standalone - dial 911 or similar, and the watch makes a call, reports your position, perhaps makes the mic live. But when it isn't doing that, cell connection is off. I actually think this is a killer feature of Apple Watch. With GPS and Apple Maps data, the watch actually knows if it should expect cell coverage.

    I can see parents buying these for their kids as a lo-jack. Kid always has an emergency bat phone on their wrist at all times.
    patchythepiratelolliverAirunJae
  • Reply 8 of 53
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    sog35 said:
    why would you need a cell radio on a Watch? just silly.

    I wonder if Apple can make special bands that have GPS and an extra battery? Most of us don't give a crap about GPS. But I know runners do
    So, I don't know if you noticed, but Apple has heavily promoted Watch as a fitness device. 

    My wife and I go on 20 to 40 mile bike rides. Leaving the phone at home and relying just on the watch for navigation and communication is very appealing. 
    slprescottlolliverlordjohnwhorfinAirunJae
  • Reply 9 of 53
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    sog35 said:
    why would you need a cell radio on a Watch? just silly.

    I wonder if Apple can make special bands that have GPS and an extra battery? Most of us don't give a crap about GPS. But I know runners do
    Cell radio (and Wi-Fi) help triangulate a location MUCH faster than GPS alone. It can take up to 5 minutes to get a GPS signal lock — a major problem I encountered when testing the Microsoft Band. If Apple Watch 2 has GPS without cellular, perhaps Apple has some sort of new trick to get your location faster without cellular. Or maybe it just guesstimates your distance/pace until it gets a lock (like my Fitbit Surge did).
    patchythepiratelolliver
  • Reply 10 of 53
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,488member
    nhughes said:
    sog35 said:
    why would you need a cell radio on a Watch? just silly.

    I wonder if Apple can make special bands that have GPS and an extra battery? Most of us don't give a crap about GPS. But I know runners do
    Cell radio (and Wi-Fi) help triangulate a location MUCH faster than GPS alone. It can take up to 5 minutes to get a GPS signal lock — a major problem I encountered when testing the Microsoft Band. If Apple Watch 2 has GPS without cellular, perhaps Apple has some sort of new trick to get your location faster without cellular. Or maybe it just guesstimates your distance/pace until it gets a lock (like my Fitbit Surge did).
    Since an AW is still connected to the iPhone "most of the time", I would think Apple could implement a feature where the watch periodically gets the data from iPhone, such that when you leave iPhone connectivity (for a run, walk) it is able to quickly get a lock.  The GPS chip could be in a low power mode until that point as well.
  • Reply 11 of 53
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,488member

    eightzero said:
    mazda 3s said:
    The few times I've used my Apple Watch as a "phone", I've felt like an idiot. Awkwardly holding my arm up to my wrist up to my face, people complaining that they can't hear me -- plus it's not a very ergonomic position to hold your arm like that.
    I concur. However, there is more to cell connection than phone calls. Cell data transfer in minute quantities could be enormously helpful for other things. When the B&N nook came out, it came with standalone cell connection for free via AT&T.

    For Apple Watch, I agree the battery life is most valuable, so perhaps simply managing how and when it connects makes this work. I see a lot of value in an emergency feature that is standalone - dial 911 or similar, and the watch makes a call, reports your position, perhaps makes the mic live. But when it isn't doing that, cell connection is off. I actually think this is a killer feature of Apple Watch. With GPS and Apple Maps data, the watch actually knows if it should expect cell coverage.

    I can see parents buying these for their kids as a lo-jack. Kid always has an emergency bat phone on their wrist at all times.
    Exactly.  There are many benefits to an Apple Watch having "always on" data reachability with cellular.  Fully agree that it should not be put in until it doesn't significantly affect battery life, but make no mistake this will be important at broadening the uses and customers for the watch.  Moving beyond easy calling of 911, think about a feature where the watch could detect if you fall and are not moving (could see that being motion/baramoter combination that is recognizable, that could be optionally enabled).  It could engage to call a set of programmed numbers (children, care giver), or absent any connection there, could call 911.  

    On your point regarding standalone - I could see it being simply that when AW is connected to its paired iPhone, or on known Wifi, that cellular data is in a low power mode.  It is only when not paired with phone or off that WiFi when cellular would engage.  Same principle can be done for GPS as well, to handle battery life, I would think.

    Finally, I hope Apple has some discussions with mobile operators to get some reasonable pricing.  For example, adding an Apple Watch for data to an existing contract might be something like $5/month (or less).
    patchythepiratelolliverAirunJae
  • Reply 12 of 53

    In other news, Apple isn't likely to produce a flying car this year. Maybe next year.

    Seriously, though the "tech" "press" really are kinda clueless.  Now when they do produce a flying car, these bozos can say "Delayed since 2016, beleaguered Apple *FINALLY* introduces its flying car."
    AirunJae
  • Reply 13 of 53
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,209member

    In other news, Apple isn't likely to produce a flying car this year. Maybe next year.

    Seriously, though the "tech" "press" really are kinda clueless.  Now when they do produce a flying car, these bozos can say "Delayed since 2016, beleaguered Apple *FINALLY* introduces its flying car."
    "Target announces it is going out of business due to lack of an Apple Flying Car."
    patchythepiratelolliverAirunJae
  • Reply 14 of 53
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    sog35 said:
    why would you need a cell radio on a Watch? just silly.
    So that it can download data without the phone like a map or notifications when out running or let you call a taxi. Carriers can offer combined data contracts with the phone contract so no separate data plan or just a small surcharge. When someone is out in the garden, possibly out of wifi range, they don't need to carry their phone around and don't need to go back inside to answer calls. When doing things like swimming, the phone is going to be out of range but the Watch would still be fully functional with a cellular connection. People can turn the cellular off if they don't use it so it doesn't impact battery life but it would benefit some people.
    lolliver
  • Reply 15 of 53
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member

    mazda 3s said:
    The few times I've used my Apple Watch as a "phone", I've felt like an idiot. Awkwardly holding my wrist up to my face, people complaining that they can't hear me -- plus it's not a very ergonomic position to hold your arm like that.

    I'd prefer them add some more battery to it and beef up the health features.
    From my perspective it's more about data than telephony. If I'm on a bike ride, I want to be able to download maps data on the fly and see any text messages sent to me. I'd rather not carry a phone to have those features. 
    lolliver
  • Reply 16 of 53
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    mazda 3s said:
    The few times I've used my Apple Watch as a "phone", I've felt like an idiot. Awkwardly holding my wrist up to my face, people complaining that they can't hear me -- plus it's not a very ergonomic position to hold your arm like that.

    I'd prefer them add some more battery to it and beef up the health features.
    1) With BT headphones you can use your Watch as a phone without looking like Dick Tracy.

    2) Even if you have an iPhone with you and whatever type of headphone setup you prefer, using the Watch to make or take a call is very handy. After more than a year of use I still say that the Apple Watch is unnecessary, yet indispensable. One of the best things is saving me time from having to pull out my iPhone to utilize my iPhone.

    3) Cellular on the Watch doesn't have to be used for voice calls, nor come with a monthly data plan. Check out Automatic's new Automatic Pro. It comes with a '3G' with the first 5 years included. Now, I couldn't find any info on what that means in term of usage—which I really want to know since one of the new features appears to be real-time tracking of your car's location. Meaning, at $129 wiring the female port of an OBD-II to the car's wiring with the correct fuse could allow for an inexpensive and easily hidden DYI LoJack, without any service fees. Anyway, my point is that they could include a cellular radio that comes with a carrier deal, but only works for certain features, not for making calls without the iPhone or being usable without every having to sync to an iPhone first. God, I'd hate to have to set up the Watch without the Watch app on my iPhone.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 17 of 53
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,371member
    sog35 said:
    why would you need a cell radio on a Watch? just silly.

    I wonder if Apple can make special bands that have GPS and an extra battery? Most of us don't give a crap about GPS. But I know runners do

    because you know that it can take up to 15 to 20 minutes for the GPS chip to get sync to the satellites. Today phones use the cellular and known wifi networks to get a location until the GPS is online. Plus GPS when searching for the signal uses lots of power, That is why it make sense to have cellular and GPS together.
    lolliver
  • Reply 18 of 53
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,371member

    Neil,

    I think the Bloomberg Article is base on information shares on this website and the AI pod case, I think you guys were the source of the Bloomberg article.

  • Reply 19 of 53
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    maestro64 said:
    sog35 said:
    why would you need a cell radio on a Watch? just silly.

    I wonder if Apple can make special bands that have GPS and an extra battery? Most of us don't give a crap about GPS. But I know runners do
    because you know that it can take up to 15 to 20 minutes for the GPS chip to get sync to the satellites. Today phones use the cellular and known wifi networks to get a location until the GPS is online. Plus GPS when searching for the signal uses lots of power, That is why it make sense to have cellular and GPS together.
    1) Sure, there is a benefit to cellular + A-GPS, just as there are benefits to all sorts of HW pairings, but you know that it doesn't seem feasible at this point.

    2) I see no technical reason why the Watch can't request A-GPS data from the iPhone via BT or grab it itself via certain WiFi hotspots (which are connected directly to the watch) to get info that allow GPS in the Watch to connect faster. It would offer a feature set that isn't already there, but I'm still considered with 18 months since the Apple Watch announcement, that even GPS is feasible. I can go many days without charging when backpacking by putting the Watch in AirPlane mode, but with GPS, I'd be less inclined to want to do that.
  • Reply 20 of 53
    The first iPhone didn't have GPS for likely similar reasons. (Feature limit and battery concerns.)

    While there are many commenters on here who seem to absolutely deny the usefulness of GPS/Cellular to a watch - I can think of many useful cases off the top of my head: 
    Cellular: (based on the assumption that the phone is not always in range. e.g. running, wet activities, gym floor, or more simply just on its charger while you're somewhere else in the home/office.)
    1. Ability to stream music from various music accounts such as apple music and spotify (additionally without relying on limited onboard storage, and slow transfer speeds.)
    2. Siri, home automation, 3rd party apps that require 'net access would all immediately benefit. (E.g. Weather alerts, "hey siri" working in most conditions, receiving your messages anywhere, parcel tracking and so on.)
    3. AI relies on cloud interfacing, the watch is an ideal candidate for AI personal assistance of every kind - this benefits from being truly independent of the phone. (Also it's faster without having to hop through the handset.)
    4. Nearly every data-required application is enhanced if not reliant on the phone, similarly if all apps are now required to be phone-independent then it carries that data is available independent of the phone as well. (This also applies to GPS.)
    5. Calling is trickier - while call quality and connection performance would increase, the mobile network will need to support dual devices for a single number, this might be why cellular isn't included at this stage, it requires a bit more work/intelligence to support. However the short term solution is very simple: merely extend how the phone forwards calls to the watch over the WAN rather that just the local network. (This requires that the phone is on however, and would function a bit like facetime audio.)
    GPS:

    1. Health activities (of course) - these are enhanced with location information and more efficient tracking of runs/paddles/etc - as many don't like arm straps for phones as they impede movement and after a few kilometres you actually begin to notice the weight difference (not to mention the absurd tan line.)
    2. Maps while riding, walking, etc (again, it's not always ideal to bring a phone, especially as they're bigger than they used to be.) It's trivial for the watch to hold a cache of the route or even a decently large mapped local area. (I.E. it's not all that reliant on constant data access.)
    3. Accurate location is key to providing good outdoor services (including AI) - e.g calling an uber directly from the watch rather than it just being a remote control for the iOS app.
    4. Allows 3rd party apps to provide better location without taxing the watch/phone connection or phone's battery life.
    5. As mentioned in Cellular, apps are now required to be independent, it's ideal if API calls did not require the phone but could be locally completed - this speeds up everything and aids the independence of the watch (which seems an obvious direction.)
    6. Also with Cellular features it provides a compelling emergency feature, e.g. the new emergency call button.
    edited August 2016 AirunJaenolamacguy
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