Apple is reportedly working on an Apple Watch that can connect directly to LTE mobile networks, eliminating the need for the wearable device to be paired to an iPhone.
Owners of the new Watch would have the freedom of downloading new songs and using apps that require an internet connection without having to tether the device to a smartphone.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Apple has already begun talks with European and North American providers about offering the smart watch later this year.
The watch’s modem will reportedly be manufactured by Intel.
Although Apple Watch sales account for a small percentage of the company’s net revenue, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in a recent call to investor that it’s the best-selling smartwatch “by a very wide margin.” Cook added that Watch sales increased by more than 50% in the third quarter.
Carolina Milanesi, consumer tech analyst at Creative Strategies, was quoted by the BBC as saying:
“Apple clearly has big plans for Watch both in the health segment and as a gateway to the connected home.
“Direct network connection helps in both making sharing data more reliable and faster.”
Apple will likely continue to sell models of the Watch without LTE, as it does with the iPad, but charge extra premium for the premium LTE feature.
Last year the Apple planned to release an LTE-capable model of the Watch but decided against it because of issues with battery life, Bloomberg reported.
Writing on Daring Fireball, Apple pundit John Gruber, said that he’s heard an “all-new form factor” will be coming to the new Watch.
He said: “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.”