Apple Inc. is planning to release a version of its smartwatch
later this year that can connect directly to cellular networks, a
move designed to reduce the device’s reliance on the iPhone,
people familiar with the matter said.
Currently, Apple requires its smartwatch to be connected
wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download directions in
maps, and send messages while on the go. Equipped with LTE chips,
at least some new Apple Watch models, planned for release by the
end of the year, will be able to conduct many tasks without an
iPhone in range, the people said. For example, a user would be
able to download new songs and use apps and leave their smartphone
Intel Corp. will supply the LTE modems for the new Watch,
according to another person familiar with the situation.
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. That tidbit came from an unconfirmed little birdie, though, so I wouldn’t bet the house on it.