Apple Watch gains 4G connectivity

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Apple Watch gains 4G connectivity

Apple has unveiled a version of its smartwatch with its own 4G link.

It means the Apple Watch Series 3 can receive phone calls, access internet services and stream music without being linked to an iPhone.

Apple recently overtook Fitbit to become the world’s joint-top wearable tech-maker alongside Xiaomi, according to one study.

The firm will later unveil new iPhones including a high-end X model, if an earlier leak proves accurate.

Other companies – including LG and Samung – have previously sold smartwatches with in-built cellular capabilities, but battery-life restrictions and other issues limited interest.

“Apple’s ability in the past to generate new markets when others thought they were dead is legendary,” commented Neil Mawston from the consultancy Strategy Analytics.

“For people like joggers, runners and cyclists who possibly want to do hardcore sports outdoors without carrying two devices, an LTE Apple Watch could be something of a blessing.”

The latest version of the Watch’s operating system – which will also be available to earlier models – will include new heart monitor functions.

It will warn owners if their heart rate becomes elevated when they are not active or if its rhythm becomes irregular, to flag the possibility of disease.

The 4G Apple Watch will cost $399 (£300) and be released on 22 September.

New phones

Apple’s previous flagship phones – the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus – caused controversy by abandoning a traditional headphone socket.

Manufacturer Handset shipments Year-on-yearchange Market share at end of June
July 2016 – June 2017
Samsung 313.5 million -3.0% 23.0%
Apple 215.6 million +0.5% 11.8%
Huawei 152.1 million +26.4% 11.1%
Oppo 111.2 million +62.9% 8.1%
Vivo 86.1 million +60.3% 6.1%
Xiaomi 64.0 million +2.8% 6.1%
LG 56.0 million -2.6% 3.8%
Lenovo 51.7 million -15.2% 3.2%
Source: IDC

However, they proved popular enough with consumers to help reverse an earlier dip in sales.

“This is 10 years into the iPhone’s tenure and with every year that goes by expectations only increase,” commented Geoff Blaber from the CCS Insight consultancy.

“There’s a huge amount of pressure on Apple, particularly in the context of its competitors having heightened their game.

“So it’s got to prove it’s still the leader in bringing together all the pieces of hardware, software and services.”

The new iPhones will coincide with the release of iOS 11 – the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system.

It introduces ARKit – software development tools that make it easier for developers to add augmented reality features to their apps, in which graphics are mixed together with real-world views.

The facility will not work on the iPhone 6 or older devices, so may provide a means to convince owners of ageing Apple kit to upgrade.

“When Apple first introduced the iPhone users were unsure about how touchscreens would benefit them, but now we know that they’re a great way to use a device,” said Brian Blau, a tech industry analyst at Gartner.

“The same thing will happen with augmented reality – it’s as important as touch, if not more.

“Developers have new opportunities and I think they will embrace them, but just as with touch it took them years to perfect those experiences, I also think that will also happen with AR.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Apple also announced a fresh version of its TV set-top box, which now supports 4K video and high dynamic range (HDR) content.

It added that it had struck a deal with several of the major movie studios to ensure that films in the higher-resolution, richer-colour formats would not cost more than their high-definition (HD) equivalents.

Users’ existing iTunes movie libraries will also be upgraded without charge.

HDR 4K movies have already been available to rent or buy from services including Amazon, but they tended to be sold at much higher prices than lower-quality formats.

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