Apple Watch Series 3 rumours: LTE and new workouts on tap

Apple watchOS 3
Image: Apple

LTE and non-LTE versions could be announced today

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12 September 2017 | 0

Apple might have one more trick up its sleeve at this evening’s iPhone reveal. While the new iPhone X will reportedly bring a brand new design, wireless charging, and improved AR capabilities, it seems Apple is also working on an LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 that will bring phone independence once and for all.

According to a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, “at least some new Apple Watch models” this year will come equipped with LTE chips “planned for release by the end of the year”. That would allow users to receive notifications and phone calls without having an iPhone nearby, as well as download music and use third party apps.

In addition, Kuo also predicted that the cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3 will only support LTE, not 3G connections.

Originally, Bloomberg reported that Intel will be supplying the LTE chips for the new watch, a continuation of Apple’s quest for separation from Qualcomm as its primary modem supplier. Apple began using Intel modems for some iPhone 7 models in an effort to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. The two companies are engaged in a contentious court battle over patent infringement and royalties.

Bloomberg says that Apple is already engaged in talks with carriers in the US and Europe about plans to sell an LTE-enabled Apple Watch.

An analysis of the HomePod firmware, which revealed several secrets about the new iPhone, shows many new workouts available inside Apple Watch, including basketball, bowling, cricket, curling, dance, equestrian sports, fencing, fishing, golf, jump rope, kickboxing, lacrosse, pilates, skiing, surfing, and snow sports. The current version of the Workout app is limited to a few exercise categories: walk, run, cycle, swim, elliptical, rower, and stair stepper. There’s also an ‘other’ option that includes many of these sports, but it’s just a label and they are not officially supported or tracked by the app.

Additionally, 9to5Mac has gotten its hands on the iOS 11 GM, and it has spotted a new image in the Watch app that presumably shows the new LTE watch (pictured). The image shows a watch that looks very similar to the existing model with two distinct changes: a cellular status indicator complication and a new red dot on the Digital Crown. The site also found references to new colors, namely blush gold aluminum (which would match the rumoured new iPhone X colour) and ceramic gray.

Apple updated its watch last autumn with GPS and water resistance, but the design of Apple Watch hasn’t changed since it was originally unveiled in September 2014. Apple is also currently beta testing the fourth version of watchOS, which brings new faces, complications, fitness capabilities, and a revamped Music app.

Freedom
One of the biggest drawbacks to owning an Apple Watch is its heavy reliance on the iPhone. An LTE-enabled watch, especially one that is supported on all four major carriers, would go a long way toward turning Apple Watch from an accessory into a must-have gadget.

But we have concerns, chief among them, battery life. The LTE-enabled Android Wear watches generally have mediocre battery life, and Apple would need to keep the same ‘all-day’ battery to make LTE useful in Apple Watch. And then there’s the issue of design. Every LTE watch we’ve used has had a hulking frame that dwarves the Apple Watch’s svelte square body, and if LTE makes it too thick or bulky it won’t be worth it.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not excited. iPhone independence would open Apple Watch up to a variety of uses and likely give it a giant sales boost (assuming it’s not too expensive). Apple doesn’t divulge its actual numbers for Apple Watch, but Tim Cook said this sales over the past quarter were up 50% over the same period last year, so there’s definite momentum. Without reliance on the iPhone, Apple could presumably sell Apple Watch to Android users too, opening it up to a massive new audience. Remember, the iPod didn’t take off until Apple let Windows users get it on the fun, so it’s not a crazy thought.

IDG News Service

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