Later this year, Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is planning to release a version of its smartwatch that can connect directly to cellular networks instead of relying heavily on the iPhone. Currently, the smartwatch has to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to send messages, stream music, and download directions in maps while on the go. At the end of the year, some new Apple Watch models equipped with LTE chips will be able to conduct various tasks without an iPhone in range.
The LTE modems for the new Watch will be supplied by Intel Corp. where they have been trying for many years to get their components into more Apple mobile devices. AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Sprint Corp., and Verizon Communications plan to sell the device but sales could be delayed beyond this year.
Sales of the watch increased more than 50% in the third quarter, ranking third behind Xiaomi Corp. and Fitbit Inc. Last year, Apple started selling new models of the watch with a GPS chip that allows the device to accurately track distance traveled by wearers when they leave their iPhones behind. Challenges with an LTE capable model that was planned to be released last year included battery life issues but the company has been finding ways to improve the battery life. Apple also plans to change up the software for the device including adding on the WatchOS 4 in the fall that has more Siri voice enabled features, ability to send payments in iMessage, ability to connect to gym equipment, and the ability to display news stories.