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article imageRumour: Apple Watch 'smart bands' to launch next year

By James Walker     Aug 25, 2015 in Technology
The discovery of a hidden diagnostic port on the Apple Watch at launch prompted rumours suggesting that Apple may one day launch smart watch bands that use the connection for data. A new report says they will appear next year although not everyone agrees.
Pocket-lint writes that unnamed sources informed Czech website Letem Svetem Applem of Apple's plans to unveil a series of smart watch bands in 2016. They will utilise the hidden diagnostic port to send data back to the watch.
The company is apparently working on different styles and configurations for each band. They appear to be fitness-related and capable of tracking health metrics such as blood pressure, blood oxygen and body temperature.
Apple is reportedly looking to smart bands as a source of continued income. It thinks that consumers aren't likely to replace their Apple Watch with a new version each year but may be convinced to buy a new smart band to add further functionality to it. This suggests that the bands may not be cheap if Apple is relying on them as a key income source for the Watch.
The discovery of a hidden diagnostic port in the Apple Watch's chassis created quite an uproar online at launch in April. The six-pin connector is not mentioned in any official Apple documentation. It is certainly possible that it could be used to connect smart accessories but Apple has never made any comment regarding its usage.
The Apple Watch has proven to be a popular device. It quickly sold out within hours of its launch, shipping more units in one day than Android Wear achieved in all of 2014. Not everybody is impressed though, including Nick Hayek, CEO of Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch, who claimed yesterday that the wearable is "just a toy."
Apple is likely to launch an all-new Apple Watch next year to improve on the shortcomings of the first generation. It could launch the smart bands alongside the new watch although it remains to be seen whether they would also work with the original version.
Reputable source and analyst 9to5Mac does not think Letem Svetem Applem's claims are "entirely true". It points out that connecting bands to the diagnostic port would not be a pleasant experience for users because it is covered by a metal plate which is firmly locked in place, saying "Apple is unlikely to add functionality to the current-generation model via the diagnostic port." A launch alongside the Apple Watch 2 seems more probable overall.
Letting both generations of watch be compatible with smart bands would allow Apple to gain more money from existing owners but in the long term could deter them from upgrading to the newer model. Of course, Apple's plans remain unknown and it is still possible that the diagnostic port is simply that - on the first generation watch at least.
More about Apple, apple watch, smart band, Band, Strap
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