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Home / Features / Is Apple really developing a smart ring? I just don’t think it makes sense

Is Apple really developing a smart ring? I just don’t think it makes sense

This ring would be a health tracking wearable that also makes contactless payments. But where does that leave the Apple Watch?

Wearing the Oura ring

While most of the current Apple chatter is about the brand’s latest release, the Vision Pro, the rumour mill is churning out some murmurings of another new product category for Apple. This time it’s in the form of a smart ring. Samsung recently announced a health tracking ring at MWC 2024, after teasing it beforehand. While Apple’s had a few patents for a similar device for years, new reports say that Apple is considering launching the new fitness tracker now.

But with a new product category just announced and an existing health tracker that’s the most popular in the world, would an Apple smart ring actually make sense?

What could Apple’s smart ring do?

Samsung didn’t share much about its freshly launched smart ring. It more just confirmed that it exists, and that it’s on the way this year. But, thanks to online rumours, we know what this device might be capable of. It would pack sensors to monitor blood flow, ECGs, and sleep, and also be able to make contactless payments with Samsung Pay. Samsung confirmed it would come with fertility tracking features, thanks to a Natural Cycles partnership. It’ll land in sizes 5-13, or S through to XL, with battery sizes ranging from 14.5mAh to 21.5mAh. Plus, it’ll apparently play nice with your Galaxy Watch, since the devices will work together to gather more accurate data.

Samsung Galaxy Ring over a stage
Samsung’s actual Galaxy Ring won’t be huge and hover menacingly over a stage. Probably.

And we know that these devices work. There are a few names in the smart ring game already, most notable of which is Oura. The Oura ring can measure similar health stats, alongside activities and respiratory data. You can wear it on any of your fingers, and it comes with a stubby charger you have to plonk it on every few days. In March 2022 – 7 years after the brand’s first release – Oura noted it had sold a million rings. An impressive feat for a startup, but a far cry from the 54 million Apple Watches sold in the same time frame.

So, what could Apple’s smart ring do? Most obviously, we’d likely see a similar stack of health tracking sensors. Sleep tracking, heart rate, and respiratory rate would be the big ticket items here – matching what the Apple Watch could do. In a move similar to Samsung, you’d likely see Apple Pay on the wearable to make contactless payments on the go. And more interestingly, existing patents show a smart ring controller for virtual reality accessories. With the Vision Pro now available, if Apple were to launch such a device, the timings look right.

But does it make sense?

A smart ring would be an interesting release from Apple, and I’m not quite sure that it makes sense. Having used the Oura ring for a few months, the benefits of a smart ring aren’t lost on me. You can ditch your screen and constant notifications for something that lets you live offline – a rarity these days. While smart rings are a lot chunkier than regular rings, they’re more subtle than smartwatches – especially the big ‘uns like a Garmin or Apple Watch Ultra. And I’m not saying the smart rings don’t have a place. Just maybe not in Apple’s ecosystem.

Apple Watch Series 9

One of the biggest selling points for the Apple Watch has got to be the health tracking sensors. And since it’s the most popular watch (not just smartwatch) in the world, you know an awful lot of people are picking one up just for health tracking. So to release a device that does the same thing, would be a somewhat confusing move. Why buy the ring if it does the same as your Apple Watch? Or, why buy the latest Apple Watch if you can buy the ring instead? Either way, both lines would be nuked. Just because they could play nice together, doesn’t mean anyone is willing to shell out for the more accurate data.

We know Apple likes devices to stay in their line. That’s why we’ve not seen macOS features appear in iPadOS. Apple doesn’t want the iPad to replicate the Mac experience. So why would Apple want a smart ring to replicate the key ingredients of the Apple Watch experience? And while the Vision Pro controller route is a more interesting take, there are only around 200000 of them kicking about. And in the US only. It’s not quite ready for an entire new product to act as a controller.

Ring-a-ding don’t

For Samsung, a smart ring might make more sense. It only takes up around 9% of smartwatch sales, compared to Apple’s 38%. So taking a risk of nuking Galaxy Watch sales is less of a gamble. But for Apple, where tighter product purposes are the way to go, a smart ring seems less likely. At least, for now.

Perhaps in a few years, smart ring sales will be compelling enough that Apple wants a piece of the pie. Perhaps by then, people would rather a ring than a watch. And then? Who cares what happens to the Apple Watch.

Profile image of Connor Jewiss Connor Jewiss

About

Connor is a writer for Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website. He has been writing for around seven years now, with writing across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech. Just like everyone else around here, he’s a fan of gadgets of all sorts! Aside from writing, Connor is involved in the startup scene. This exciting involvement puts him at the front of new and exciting tech, always on the lookout for innovating products.

Areas of expertise

Mobile, macOS, EVs, smart home

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