Why the Apple Ring could be the missing piece of Apple’s ecosystem

Macworld

Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.

Put a ring on it

Last week a news report out of Korea made the claim that Apple is working on a smart ring. Given the lack of recent corroboration, I’d hesitate before throwing out your jewelry collection; while Apple has almost certainly considered entering this market, and may well have done some preliminary development work, the idea that “commercialization is imminent” has to be considered, well, unproven at this point. Jumping into a totally new market just as Apple is trying to focus on a totally new market would be surprising, to say the least.

But smart rings are a logical area for exploration. Just today, in fact, Samsung unveiled its own Galaxy Ring (pictured above) that “will offer users an all-new way to simplify everyday wellness, empowering them with greater insights and more ways to understand themselves day and night.” And the fun thing about the Apple rumor is that in product terms it actually makes a lot of sense. A smart ring would fit very neatly into Apple’s portfolio.

It’s an extension of the same logic that led Apple to release a smartwatch. The iPhone is the hub, the central plank of the ecosystem, but it isn’t suited to every situation. By shrinking its functionality down to a watch, Apple can deliver notifications and offer some simple messaging features and stripped-down app interfaces in a more accessible device. The ring takes that idea and runs with it, squeezing valuable functions into a device so unobtrusive you’re barely even aware of wearing it.

An Apple Ring could, for example, do the same job as the Apple Watch in terms of biometric unlocking. Approach a Mac or smart-locked door and the ring will inform it of your location and verify your identity, allowing you entry with no friction. It could serve the same function for Apple Pay, too: whether you feel that paying with a ring would be the acme of convenience or a symbol of everything that’s wrong with late-stage capitalism, you have to admit it would grab some attention.

But there are jobs an Apple Ring could do that never occurred to the original designers of the Apple Watch. It could provide additional navigational controls and haptic feedback when using Vision Pro, for example; Apple isn’t into the idea of separate controllers in the style of the Oculus Rift, but the headset’s hand tracking could be made more accurate if the hands were adorned with devices that could talk to Vision Pro about their position. Specific functions could be tied to button presses, twisting the ring and so on.

Perhaps the most appealing way a smart ring would fit into the Apple ecosystem, however, relates to health and fitness, an obvious priority for the company. Smart rings can monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, and other health metrics, then feed that information back to a companion iPhone, or for analysis by Apple’s Fitness+ service. For users who don’t want to wear an Apple Watch while sweating through a workout, achieving many of the same functions with a ring would be ideal. And for sleep tracking, wearing a watch through the night is inconvenient for many, either because of discomfort or because that’s when they want to charge it ready for the next day. On which subject, it’s worth mentioning that smart rings tend to have battery life stretching to a week or more, dwarfing that of the average smartwatch.

The important factor is that an Apple Ring (or, less plausibly, iRing) wouldn’t significantly cannibalize other Apple products. Rather, it would slot into a new niche and find new customers. There are many things a smartwatch can do that a smart ring cannot, and vice versa. And we all know that plenty of Apple Watch users will buy both. Because let’s face it, it would be absolutely gorgeous in space black or blue titanium.

All in all, an Apple Ring makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the company makes one at some point in the future. (Indeed, twice in 2020 we reported on patent activity related to just such a device.) I just don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. Not while Apple has bigger fish to fry.

Foundry

Trending: Top stories

Vision Pro is doomed, says the Macalope. No really, it’s true.

Still, even if Vision Pro fails, these 3 features need to live on in Apple’s other devices.

Is the Apple Watch suffering an existential crisis?

Last week Apple dispelled the age-old solution to a wet iPhone: Don’t put it in rice.

While we’re making corrections, Apple has retroactively doubled the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro’s battery lifespan.

Apple unveils its new Sports app with a focus on scores (and not much else).

Reviews corner

Ugreen Revodok Max 213 Thunderbolt Dock review: Mightier than the average hub.

The rumor mill

Leaked dimensions show Apple’s thinnest tablet ever.

Which new Macs are coming this spring? The M3 rollout will likely continue with new MacBooks and Mac minis.

Gold and space gray could make a comeback on the iPhone 16 Pro.

Software updates, bugs, and problems

Apple announces ‘most significant security update’ ever for iMessage.

iOS 17.4 beta includes new CarPlay and Apple Maps ‘instrument cluster experience’.

And with that, we’re done for this week’s Apple Breakfast. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Threads, or Twitter for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.

Apple Inc

​Macworld Macworld

Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.

Put a ring on it

Last week a news report out of Korea made the claim that Apple is working on a smart ring. Given the lack of recent corroboration, I’d hesitate before throwing out your jewelry collection; while Apple has almost certainly considered entering this market, and may well have done some preliminary development work, the idea that “commercialization is imminent” has to be considered, well, unproven at this point. Jumping into a totally new market just as Apple is trying to focus on a totally new market would be surprising, to say the least.

But smart rings are a logical area for exploration. Just today, in fact, Samsung unveiled its own Galaxy Ring (pictured above) that “will offer users an all-new way to simplify everyday wellness, empowering them with greater insights and more ways to understand themselves day and night.” And the fun thing about the Apple rumor is that in product terms it actually makes a lot of sense. A smart ring would fit very neatly into Apple’s portfolio.

It’s an extension of the same logic that led Apple to release a smartwatch. The iPhone is the hub, the central plank of the ecosystem, but it isn’t suited to every situation. By shrinking its functionality down to a watch, Apple can deliver notifications and offer some simple messaging features and stripped-down app interfaces in a more accessible device. The ring takes that idea and runs with it, squeezing valuable functions into a device so unobtrusive you’re barely even aware of wearing it.

An Apple Ring could, for example, do the same job as the Apple Watch in terms of biometric unlocking. Approach a Mac or smart-locked door and the ring will inform it of your location and verify your identity, allowing you entry with no friction. It could serve the same function for Apple Pay, too: whether you feel that paying with a ring would be the acme of convenience or a symbol of everything that’s wrong with late-stage capitalism, you have to admit it would grab some attention.

But there are jobs an Apple Ring could do that never occurred to the original designers of the Apple Watch. It could provide additional navigational controls and haptic feedback when using Vision Pro, for example; Apple isn’t into the idea of separate controllers in the style of the Oculus Rift, but the headset’s hand tracking could be made more accurate if the hands were adorned with devices that could talk to Vision Pro about their position. Specific functions could be tied to button presses, twisting the ring and so on.

Perhaps the most appealing way a smart ring would fit into the Apple ecosystem, however, relates to health and fitness, an obvious priority for the company. Smart rings can monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, and other health metrics, then feed that information back to a companion iPhone, or for analysis by Apple’s Fitness+ service. For users who don’t want to wear an Apple Watch while sweating through a workout, achieving many of the same functions with a ring would be ideal. And for sleep tracking, wearing a watch through the night is inconvenient for many, either because of discomfort or because that’s when they want to charge it ready for the next day. On which subject, it’s worth mentioning that smart rings tend to have battery life stretching to a week or more, dwarfing that of the average smartwatch.

The important factor is that an Apple Ring (or, less plausibly, iRing) wouldn’t significantly cannibalize other Apple products. Rather, it would slot into a new niche and find new customers. There are many things a smartwatch can do that a smart ring cannot, and vice versa. And we all know that plenty of Apple Watch users will buy both. Because let’s face it, it would be absolutely gorgeous in space black or blue titanium.

All in all, an Apple Ring makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the company makes one at some point in the future. (Indeed, twice in 2020 we reported on patent activity related to just such a device.) I just don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. Not while Apple has bigger fish to fry.

Foundry

Trending: Top stories

Vision Pro is doomed, says the Macalope. No really, it’s true.

Still, even if Vision Pro fails, these 3 features need to live on in Apple’s other devices.

Is the Apple Watch suffering an existential crisis?

Last week Apple dispelled the age-old solution to a wet iPhone: Don’t put it in rice.

While we’re making corrections, Apple has retroactively doubled the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro’s battery lifespan.

Apple unveils its new Sports app with a focus on scores (and not much else).

Reviews corner

Ugreen Revodok Max 213 Thunderbolt Dock review: Mightier than the average hub.

The rumor mill

Leaked dimensions show Apple’s thinnest tablet ever.

Which new Macs are coming this spring? The M3 rollout will likely continue with new MacBooks and Mac minis.

Gold and space gray could make a comeback on the iPhone 16 Pro.

Software updates, bugs, and problems

Apple announces ‘most significant security update’ ever for iMessage.

iOS 17.4 beta includes new CarPlay and Apple Maps ‘instrument cluster experience’.

And with that, we’re done for this week’s Apple Breakfast. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Threads, or Twitter for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.

Apple Inc 

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