Mark Gurman writing for Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. is planning to release a version of its smartwatch later this year that can connect directly to cellular networks, a move designed to reduce the device’s reliance on the iPhone, people familiar with the matter said.
Currently, Apple requires its smartwatch to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download directions in maps, and send messages while on the go. Equipped with LTE chips, at least some new Apple Watch models, planned for release by the end of the year, will be able to conduct many tasks without an iPhone in range, the people said. For example, a user would be able to download new songs and use apps and leave their smartphone at home.
Adding to this is John Gruber:
It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal this could be. No mention in Businessweek’s report, though, of the all-new form factor that I’ve heard is coming for this year’s new watches. That tidbit came from an unconfirmed little birdie, though, so I wouldn’t bet the house on it.
New Apple Watch in a new design and at least one model with a cellular connection. I guess T-Mobile’s old 200 MB for lifetime plan would be a good match for this – if it still was around for new customers. Although I’m not sure how much data you’d need on a Watch? I guess streaming Apple Music to the wrist is a feature that could potentially require a lot of data. Let’s hope more carriers will offer pools of data with existing device plans.
I assume, given the limited space, that Apple will ship it with an embedded, non-removable SIM. Which means that at least AT&T customers should be aware that their carrier might decide to permanently bind that SIM to themselves, just like they did on iPads with Apple SIM.