When it comes to Apple’s Apple Watch, the company is reportedly gearing up to bring a lot more functionality to a device that hasn’t yet gained mass adoption.
According to a news report in Bloomberg, which cited several people familiar with the matter, the iPhone creator is preparing to roll out a version of the Apple Watch that can make phone calls. The device will be able to connect directly to cellular networks and is slated for release later in 2017.
Bloomberg reported some of the watches will have an LTE chip embedded in them, enabling the Apple wearable device to do many tasks without the need to be close to an iPhone. Current versions of the Apple Watch have to be connected to — paired with — an iPhone to send messages, access maps, get directions and stream music from a user’s library, among other functions. According to Bloomberg, multinational technology company Intel is supplying the chip for the new Apple Watch. The partnership will be welcome news for Intel, which has struggled to maintain its dominance in a world led by smartphones and mobile devices rather than desktop and laptop computers.
In other technology news, Samsung Electronics surpassed Intel as the world’s largest semiconductor company for the first time this past quarter. Intel and Apple declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.
The report also noted Apple is currently holding talks with carriers both in the U.S. and Europe about the mobile version of the watch. The number of carriers supporting the LTE Apple Watch could be limited to those that already offer the iPhone, though the report did say that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile USA all plan to sell the device in the U.S. According to Bloomberg, Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, said when reporting earnings last week that the Apple Watch wearable device is the best selling smartwatch. Cook also said sales jumped more than 50 percent in the third quarter.