If you’ve been following the tech news, you probably know that Apple’s highly anticipated iWatch is expected to make its debut Sept. 9, along with Apple’s new iPhone.
Based on the amount of hype this iWatch has generated, it could be the most important piece of consumer technology since the original iPhone launched in 2007, or the iPad in 2010.
But seriously: Why? What exactly will the iWatch be able to do? What will it look like? And more to the point: Why would Apple want to get into the wearables market, which, despite being loaded with a variety of offerings, isn’t nearly as robust as the smartphone market?
Below is a brief explainer about the iWatch, its raison d’être, and why Apple would want to even enter a market that’s still largely unproven. School is in session.
What’s an iWatch? In short, the iWatch is Apple’s long-rumored smartwatch that analysts and company watchers claim could put to bed all of those nagging rumors that Apple’s well of innovation has run dry.
iWatch concept. (Belm Designs)
The watch itself is expected to feature a touchscreen and connect to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth and provide you with notifications from your favorite apps. So you’d be able to view messages from your phone without removing it from your pocket or walking across the room to retrieve it. It’s like having your smartphone screen on your wrist at all times.
Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal report that the iWatch will also have a near-field communication, or NFC, chip, which could be used to make wireless payments with the watch. To do so, you’d simply tap the iWatch on an NFC payment pad at a store’s checkout counter. The watch would then automatically pay for your items with money from the bank account you linked to the wearable.
As a bonus, the iWatch is also expected to work as a kind of fitness and health tracker. You’ll also reportedly be able to track your steps via the watch’s built-in pedometer, see if you should slap on some sunblock via its UV monitor, and check out other fitness information through Apple’s upcoming HealthKit platform.
HealthKit? That’s right, HealthKit. Introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference as part of iOS 8, HealthKit takes all the data from your disparate health and fitness apps and combines it into one convenient app on your iPhone’s home screen.