Apple Watch Shipments Could Reach 15 Million in 2017

Overall Apple Watch shipments are expected to rise to 4.5 million units in the fourth quarter of this year and could reach 15 million for the whole of 2017, according to sources in the upstream supply chain (via DigiTimes).

Those predictions bode well for Apple as it prepares to launch its third-generation smartwatch, but the figures stand in stark contrast to other vendors of wearable devices, who are seeing increasingly weakening demand.


Xiaomi and Fitbit are both experiencing dropping sales for their current smartwatch ranges, while wearable shipments from Samsung, LG, Huawei, and Motorola remain weak overall. Asustek has already decided to leave the market completely and Intel has been cutting staff and R&D resources involved in its wearable platforms.

High prices, weak battery life, overlapping functionalities with smartphones, and poorly integrated ecosystems are among the reasons cited for the less-than-impressive demand for rival wearables.

Meanwhile Apple's smartwatch continues to ride a wave of popularity, with supply chain sources expecting Apple Watch volume to rise to up to 20 million units in 2018. By contrast the first-generation Apple Watch shipped less than 5 million units in 2015, while the second-generation model has maintained strong sales since its launch in September 2016.

Set to launch next month, the Apple Watch Series 3 is said to be coming in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + LTE models in 38mm and 42mm sizes, according to KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo reckons the cellular-enabled model will have an embedded SIM, but it might support VoIP calling only. Apple Watch Series 3 models will also reportedly have improved performance and longer battery life.

Rumors of a design change for the third-generation watch can't be confirmed, but it's possible some small tweaks to the form factor could be revealed in September, alongside new iPhones and possibly a 4K-capable Apple TV.


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Apple and Aetna Talked Data Privacy, Cost and More in Apple Watch Meeting

Apple and insurance provider Aetna met last week to discuss ways to offer discounted Apple Watch models to Aetna's 23 million subscribers, and CNBC has shared details on some of the topics that were discussed at the meeting, attended by Aetna employees, Apple executives, and health providers from major hospitals.

Aetna is aiming to determine whether the Apple Watch can be used by subscribers to improve health outcomes by encouraging them to exercise, eat better, and better manage health issues. Info on the meeting came from Mandy Bishop, an attendee who founded startup Lifely Insights. Much of the meeting consisted of feedback from Aetna employees who have been testing the Apple Watch.


Data privacy, including who had access to what data, was a major topic of discussion, with Apple explaining that Apple Watch health data can only be shared with third-party apps and companies with express user consent.

The Apple Watch's lack of situational awareness was brought up as a pain point, such as when the device delivers a stand notification when a user is on a plane or in another environment that makes standing difficult. Cost was also a significant topic of discussion.
One theme that emerged during the event, she said, is that many of those who were enrolled in the program wanted to get healthy alongside their families. But many couldn't afford to spend upwards of $1,000 on devices for their spouses and children.

The cost issue wasn't entirely resolved, she said, but it proved to be a sticking point. It remains unclear whether Aetna will extend its discounts from employees and/or members to their family-members.
Apple and Aetna are said to be planning to implement some kind of Apple Watch program in early 2018, which would see the company offering free or discounted Apple Watches to its subscribers.

Aetna already has a program that provides a free Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees and it already subsidizes the cost for some subscribers, with data from that program being used to determine if an expansion is worth it.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tag: Aetna
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Apple Watch Series 3 Enters ‘Final Testing Phase’ Ahead of Rumored September Launch

Apple Watch Series 3 models have entered the "final testing phase" in the manufacturing process, with mass production set to begin soon, according to a new Chinese-language Economic Daily News report [Google Translate].


The report, citing unnamed supply chain sources, said Taiwan-based manufacturer Quanta Computer will begin shipping Apple Watch Series 3 models to Apple in the fourth quarter, lining up with the smartwatch's widely rumored September launch, alongside new iPhones and possibly a 4K-capable Apple TV.

Apple Watch Series 2 models and slightly upgraded Series 1 models launched last September alongside the iPhone 7, so it's reasonable to assume that Series 3 models could launch this September as well. The original Apple Watch, now unofficially dubbed Series 0, launched in April 2015.

The rest of the report cites KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who recently claimed Apple Watch Series 3 will be available in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + LTE models in 38mm and 42mm sizes. Kuo said the cellular-enabled model will have an embedded SIM, but it might support VoIP calling only.

Apple Watch Series 3 models will also reportedly have improved performance and longer battery life, at least for the Wi-Fi-only version.

What's less certain is whether the Apple Watch will be significantly redesigned for the first time since being unveiled in September 2014.

Apple blogger John Gruber recently said he heard Apple Watch Series 3 models could have an all-new form factor, but he stressed that the tidbit came from an unconfirmed source who could be wrong. Kuo, meanwhile, said Apple Watch Series 3 models won't have any "obvious" form factor changes.

"It could also be that both my birdie and Kuo are correct," said Gruber, in a follow-up post yesterday. "The phrase 'will not feature an obvious new form factor' leaves a lot of wiggle room with the word 'obvious'," he added.

Few other details are known about the next Apple Watch at this point, and no components have leaked from the supply chain yet.

Apple has filed patents for a number of ideas that could eventually be included in an Apple Watch, such as a heart rate identification system, modular bands, haptic feedback band, and a band with a built-in charger. More significant health and fitness features could be added pending further FDA approvals.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tag: udn.com
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Apple Watch Series 3 Unlikely to Support Direct Phone Calls, but VoIP Calling a Possibility

The third-generation Apple Watch, set to launch this fall with LTE support for the first time, is unlikely to support phone calls, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors in a note shared this morning.

According to Kuo, while a voice service that replaces the iPhone's calling functionality is "feasible," he believes Apple must first work on improving the "user experience of data transmission." As a result, he says the Apple Watch "probably" won't support traditional phone calls "this year."


The watch could, however, support VoIP services like FaceTime and Skype, as FaceTime audio calling is already supported on current Apple Watch models.
This has two benefits: (1) negotiations with mobile operators will be more simple and the chances of cooperation with mobile operators will improve; and (2) 3G connectivity can be scrapped, simplifying the antenna design and facilitating internal design. However, we think there is a chance that users may use LTE Apple Watch to access VoIP services, such as FaceTime and Skype.
Kuo also says that based on a lack of internal space, the LTE Apple Watch is likely to use an eSIM instead of a physical SIM slot, with the device set up to share the same phone number with an iPhone. He warns that LTE connectivity in the Apple Watch could be limited to specific countries and markets as not all mobile operators support that particular business model.

Rumors have already suggested that the major carriers in the United States, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will support and sell the upcoming LTE Apple Watch.

Though Apple is currently embroiled in an ongoing patent dispute with Qualcomm, Kuo believes Apple will use Qualcomm chips in the Apple Watch because Qualcomm's technology is superior to Intel's with smaller chips that consume less power.

Finally, Kuo predicts Apple has no intention of developing an Android app for the Apple Watch at this time, given that it would be difficult to have the same deep integration between Apple Watch and an Android phone that's possible with the Apple Watch and iPhone.

The third-generation Apple Watch is expected to be introduced in September alongside new iPhones. LTE connectivity is expected to be the main selling point for the device, and while there were some rumors pointing towards major design changes, Kuo has previously said there will be no "obvious change" to the form factor.


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Apple Watch 3 Won’t Have ‘Obvious Change’ to Form Factor, LTE to Be Main Selling Point

The third-generation Apple Watch, expected to be introduced alongside new iPhones this fall, does not feature an obvious change to form factor, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a new note shared with investors this afternoon, Kuo says LTE connectivity will be the main selling point of the new device.


The Apple Watch will keep the same two case sizes, 38mm and 42mm, and will be available in LTE and non-LTE versions, much like the iPad. Previous rumors have suggested the major carriers in the United States will offer add-on cellular service for the new LTE Apple Watch, and the plans may work similarly to iPad data plans.

Kuo believes shipments of the new Apple Watch models will reach 8 to 9 million units in the second half of 2017, with the LTE model to account for 35 to 40 percent of shipments. Overall, he forecasts 17.5 to 18 million units shipped in 2017, up 70 percent year-over-year.

According to Kuo, to drive major growth, Apple needs to introduce a radical form factor change, more FDA approvals supporting medical and health applications, and 5G commercialization.

Bloomberg first suggested the third-generation Apple Watch would include support for LTE in early August, allowing the wrist-worn device to be uncoupled from the iPhone for the first time.

Following Bloomberg's report, Daring Fireball's John Gruber said he had heard from a "little birdie" that the third-generation Apple Watch would feature an "all-new form factor," but he warned that the information might be inaccurate.

Based on Kuo's report and a lack of rumors hinting at major design changes, it appears we may not see significant design changes after all.


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Apple Aiming to Bring Apple Watch to 23 Million Aetna Subscribers

Apple and Aetna are discussing ways to offer discounted Apple Watch models to millions of consumers with Aetna insurance, reports CNBC. Citing people with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site says Apple and Aetna held discussions last week that included senior officials from Apple, Aetna, and several hospitals.

Aetna already offers a program that provides the Apple Watch at no cost to its 50,000 employees and subsidizes the cost for some subscribers, but the insurance company is said to be negotiating with Apple to offer a free or discounted Apple Watch to all Aetna members.

Apple's Myoung Cha, who has the title "special projects, health," led the discussions, said one of the people. The move by Aetna is part of its push to increase customer interest in a healthier lifestyle and a better tracking of diet, said one of the people.
Aetna is said to be aiming to implement some kind of program early in 2018, and its goal seems to be an expansion of plans that were announced back in September. At that time, Aetna said it was planning to subsidize the cost of the Apple Watch for large employers and individual customers.

Aetna also said it would develop several iOS health initiatives with "support" from Apple, offering "deeply integrated" health apps for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to Aetna customers.

The company's plan to offer discounted or free Apple Watch models to subscribers comes as Apple is on the verge of introducing a third-generation Apple Watch. Rumors suggest the upcoming device features an LTE chip that allows it to be decoupled from the iPhone and there's also a possibility we'll see a redesign.

We expect to see the third-generation Apple Watch introduced alongside new iPhones in September.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tags: cnbc.com, Aetna
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of New watchOS 4 Operating System to Developers

Apple today seeded the sixth beta of an upcoming watchOS 4 update to developers, one week after seeding the fifth beta and more than two months after introducing the watchOS 4 update at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the new watchOS 4 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software update.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS 4 features three new watch faces, including a dedicated Siri watch face that displays dynamic information unique to each individual and is perhaps the most significant new feature in the update. There are also new complications for Now Playing and Apple News, and an enhanced Workout app that supports High Intensity Interval Training and new swimming options.

GymKit, a new technology platform, will let the Apple Watch interface with gym equipment for workout data sharing purposes, and the Activity app will offer up intelligent coaching and tailored workout encouragement along with new monthly activity challenges.

Many other small tweaks and changes have been introduced, all of which are outlined in our dedicated watchOS 4 roundup.

watchOS 4 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers, so non-developers need to wait until the software sees an official release in the fall to try it out.


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Apple Pay Could Launch in Germany as Early as Next Month

Hints about when Apple Pay is coming to Germany have been few and far between over the last year, with negotiations between Apple and German banks allegedly stalling due to conflicting views over fees and controls.

The last rumor came back in May and suggested that Apple Pay would launch in the country in the fall or winter, but today one MacRumors reader provided us with another potential hint that Apple is gearing up to introduce its mobile payment system in Germany imminently.


While setting up a new Apple Watch on the fifth regional betas of iOS 11 and watchOS 4, developer Philipp Ebener was presented with the option to add German bank cards to Apple Pay for the first time.

Philipp reports that he wasn't able to register any of his German credit cards with the system, but the fact that the feature has been partially enabled suggests full activation could come with the official public launch of both operating systems.

Apple will release the final version of iOS 11 and watchOS 4 at its next major event in September, where it is expected to debut new iPhone models and a new Apple Watch with LTE for a standalone cellular connection.


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Apple Seeds Fifth Beta of New watchOS 4 Operating System to Developers

Apple today seeded the fifth beta of an upcoming watchOS 4 update to developers, two weeks after seeding the fourth beta and two months after introducing the watchOS 4 update at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the watchOS 4 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software update.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS 4 features three new watch faces, including a dedicated Siri watch face that displays dynamic information unique to each individual and is perhaps the most significant new feature in the update. There are also new complications for Now Playing and Apple News, and an enhanced Workout app that supports High Intensity Interval Training and new swimming options.

GymKit, a new technology platform, will let the Apple Watch interface with gym equipment for workout data sharing purposes, and the Activity app will offer up intelligent coaching and tailored workout encouragement along with new monthly activity challenges.

Many other small tweaks and changes have been introduced, all of which are outlined in our dedicated watchOS 4 roundup.

watchOS 4 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers, so non-developers need to wait until the software sees an official release in the fall to try it out.


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HomePod Firmware Possibly Reveals Apple Watch With LTE and 4K Apple TV With HDR10 and Dolby Vision

iOS developer Guilherme Rambo‏ has discovered a reference to a 4K HDR display mode in the HomePod's firmware, lending credence to rumors of Apple testing a fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming 4K resolution video.


HomePod doesn't have a display, and iOS devices lack the resolution for native 4K playback, so the discovery likely pertains to the Apple TV.

Rambo also discovered strings kCADisplayModeDolby and kCADisplayModeHDR10, suggesting that a 4K Apple TV could support both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 color formats for high-dynamic-range video.


Apple has also listed select movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes purchase history, at least in Canada and the United Kingdom. The content is still only playable in standard definition or HD, which varies from 720p to 1080p, but Apple could be preparing to offer iTunes content in 4K HDR for its new Apple TV.

Another developer Jeffrey Grossman‏ also spotted a possible reference to an Apple Watch with LTE support. The string, which refers to GizmoPreservingeSIM, lends credence to a report yesterday that claimed Apple Watch Series 3 models will feature cellular connectivity for use without a paired iPhone.


The relevant bit of that string is the mention of a SIM, as the Apple Watch Series 3 would presumably have an embedded SIM card if it had cellular connectivity. Another string mentions GizmoRadioBundleIdentifier, which could refer to the Apple Watch Series 3's cellular radio, reportedly to be supplied by Intel.

For those unaware, in 2015, The New York Times reported the Apple Watch was codenamed Gizmo internally.
Inside Apple, members of the team that worked on the watch product, code-named Gizmo, say it was a difficult engineering challenge.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving


Last week, Apple seeded an over-the-air firmware file for the HomePod, revealing that it will run a slightly modified version of iOS. The pre-release software is said to correspond with iOS 11.0.2, and it contains references to several unreleased features that would normally be redacted before a public release.


The firmware contains a payload that can be unpacked into a filesystem using a few developer tools, giving anyone skilled enough the ability to search through thousands of strings in the software using Terminal commands and disassembly apps like Hopper. For the past eight days, that's exactly what's happened.

Since the HomePod firmware is based on a full iOS stack, many discoveries have been made not only about the smart speaker, but also potentially about the so-called iPhone 8, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Thanks to the HomePod firmware, we know that that the iPhone 8's front camera may record 4K video at 60 FPS, and that its infrared facial recognition capabilities may work with Apple Pay. The firmware also revealed a glyph of an iPhone 8 with a full-front display with a notch at the top for the earpiece and sensors.

As for the HomePod itself, it's been discovered that the smart speaker's multi-color LED waveform visible when interacting with Siri measures in at 272×340 pixels. HomePod also appears to have 1GB of RAM, and some of the speaker's sound effects were found buried in the firmware.

HomePod doesn't launch until December, so the firmware was likely released by accident, under the identifier AudioAccessory1,1.


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