Apple Reportedly Working on 'Smart Bands' For Apple Watch

Rumor has it Apple is working on a new accessory for the Apple Watch: smart bands.

According to the Czech website, Letem Svetem Applem, Apple has plans to announce new smart bands that will add new health tracking functions to the Watch, without the need to buy an entirely new device.  The bands will reportedly connect to the data port on the Watch (hidden near where the bands currently connect), and will be able to monitor things like body temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen, and respiratory rate.

Supposedly, the sensors for all of those types of reading will need to be in a Watch band rather than the Watch itself, in part because of how the Watch functions. Since it’s technically a small computer, components within the Watch can heat up, causing inaccurate reading for things like body temperature, and skewing the results of some other readings.

The rumor suggests that Apple will be releasing the smart bands in early 2016. It also reportedly has plans to release several different configurations of the bands, so it’s possible there will be bands available with varying degrees of functionality.

It’s been almost a year since Apple’s original announcement of the Apple Watch. If things stay on Apple’s traditional schedule, then the company will likely announce an update to the Watch during its iPhone event, typically held at the beginning of September.

Since the Apple Watch only launched a few months ago, it might be a bit too early for Cupertino to show off a complete refresh of the hardware.

Something like a smart band would enable the company to show off new hardware, without making the Watch, which is just now starting to be in stock at Apple Stores, obsolete.

Apple Watch customers, and watch customers in general, are also likely a bit more reluctant to replace their entire watch on a yearly basis.

By offering things like smart bands, Apple can encourage customer to make additional purchases without having them purchase an entirely new Apple Watch.

Apple currently offers a number of different bands for the Apple Watch. The bands range from  a $49 fluoroelastomer sports band, to a $449 link bracelet made out of 316L stainless steel. There is also a Modern Buckle option, Leather Loop, and Milanese Loop. Bands are made in a variety of different colors and styles, making it possible for customers to add a bit of personality to their Apple Watch. 

Apple recently started selling those bands in the Apple Store. The hope is that since the bands are so simple to swap out, customers will purchase several different band options and trade them out depending on the type of situation they’re in. For instance, a Milanese Loop may be great for work, but will likely be uncomfortable on your morning run. The new smart band could potentially be one that you might put on right before a workout, rather than something you would leave on your Watch all the time.

In addition to Apple’s bands, a number of third-party manufacturers have started to create their own bands for the Apple Watch. If Apple creates a smart band that uses the Watch's data port, we could potentially see other companies do the same with their third-party offerings.

Will it happen? We'll have to wait until September to find out.