Apple Watch Sounding More Independent In Latest Leak

The Apple Watch will offer a lot more independent features than were previously announced, according to a new leak from the generally accurate 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman. The wearable is set for an official unveiling Monday, but Gurman’s report highlights some heretofore unknown features from sources with hands-on experience, including longer continuous and mixed-use battery life, on-demand heart rate monitoring, a fully independent and customizable Notification Center and Bluetooth audio accessory connectivity.

While a previous 9to5Mac report put battery life at between 2.5 and 4 hours of continuous, active use, new information indicates Apple has managed to extend that to five full hours, along with normal mixed daily use allowing the Watch to work past the one-day mark, though nightly charging is still necessary to ensure it’ll last through the entire next day.

The new report also says that a power-reserve mode, first reported by the NYT, will be available to users at any time, and will extend device life by restricting phone-to-watch communications to an on-demand basis, as well as generally dimmed screen brightness levels.

These features, as well as a full Notification center on the Watch, accessible via a downward swipe and complete with user-manipulable, app-specific settings that apply separate from those selected on the iPhone, indicate a device designed for use as something more than just a constantly connected iPhone extension.

Another new detail is full Bluetooth audio streaming support, meaning the Watch can connect directly to, and play music via, Bluetooth headsets and speakers for playback of music stored locally on the wearable. Back in September, Cook suggested it would be compatible with Bluetooth headsets, but this report seems to confirm full-featured streaming audio support.

So far, the information available via the existing WatchKit SDK, as well as much of what Apple has highlighted in its own advance materials on the device, has illustrated what an iPhone owner’s experience might be like. Based on these reported first-hand use accounts, the Apple Watch, and the presentation Monday, might offer more insight on what it can do independently. Those details, combined with a detailed look at Apple’s future plans for expanded third-party developer support, could help fill in some of the remaining gaps and questions around this all-new product launch.