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Apple Ring: rounding up the rumors

A render of a ring with the Apple logo.

The Apple Ring has been the subject of occasional rumors for close to two decades. Here are the essential rumors and Apple’s published research topics about the smart jewelry.

Apple’s wearable in its product catalog is the Apple Watch, and it has helped it capitalize in the smartwatch market. But there’s always a group of customers who would rather wear something else instead of a watch.

The seeming answer to that is a smart ring, and Apple’s not the only one seemingly in the field. The Oura ring has been around for years, offering biological monitoring while being worn around a finger.

Chief electronics rival Samsung is also preparing its own offering in the field. The Galaxy Ring is anticipated to launch later in 2024. In the face of potential competition in the market, there could be increased pressure on Apple to move in with its own offering.

With that prospect on the horizon, this is what the rumor mill has declared about the Apple Ring over time.

An early Apple Ring proposal

One of the earliest examples of the rumor mill at action goes back to 2007, when Yanko Design published a concept image designed by Victor Soto. Referred to as the iRing, the idea consisted of a white or black ring with a blue glowing Apple logo.

Hand wearing a metallic ring with a blue, glowing apple logo and a dotted pattern on a black background.

A 2007 iRing concept [Yanko Design/Victor Soto]

The concept was that the iRing would work with an iPhone or iPod, providing control of playback and volume control via a touch-sensitive function strip.

The ring would be used with a loop-shaped cradle for recharging, and would theoretically have a battery life of up to two days.

Obviously, the technology of the time made it hard to consider the concept as a real, tangible product. But, as technology miniaturizes, the chance of it eventually becoming a reality has grown.

Supplier tour sparks Apple Ring expectations

An interpretation of the concept by analysts took place in 2013, thanks to a research note from Topeka Capital Markets. The note was more about an Apple-produced television, but a ring became an integral part of it.

At the time, it was explained that the “iRing” would act as a navigation pointer for the television. Motion detection was said to replace some typical remote control functions.

While a television didn’t come to pass, we do have Apple TV, albeit without a ring controller. And a screen.

A barrage of Apple Ring patents

One of the oddities of the Apple Ring rumors is that there’s proof Apple has at least considered the concept. While it may not have actually produced the hardware, engineers at Apple have put some thought into the possibility.

The evidence of this stems from patents and patent applications, which has seen Apple come up with many different concepts for the device.

Diagram of a ring input device with an electronic jewel system, rotating outer band, stationary inner band, contact pads, and band mechanism.

An example of an Apple Ring patent image

There’s even been the proposal that an “expandable ring device” could be worn in many different ways, including as part of a necklace or a bracelet.

Apple Ring spying claims

One of the more outlandish claims that circulated in 2022 insisted Apple developed a paired wedding ring set. The idea would be that each user would know where the other one was at all times.

Furthermore, they would also know if their partner removed the ring, which could be considered a step towards being unfaithful.

The problem with the rumor is that some people are easily capable of believing it to be true. The same sort of abuse speculated about in the viral social media post was already possible, and didn’t need a ring.

There have already been many stories involving AirTags being used for tracking purposes by stalkers. Not to mention the many other trackers and tracking methods available on the market for the purpose.

Of course, a smart ring from Apple could potentially be used for bad purposes. Practically anything could given the motivation or the reasoning.

But, like the anti-stalking measures, it would be expected that Apple would try to maintain user privacy, and work to implement similar tools in a smart ring. That is, if it enabled stalking behavior in some way.

Samsung sparked Apple Ring speculation

After Samsung’s early 2024 Unpacked event, which involved a tease of its Galaxy Ring, a report quickly surfaced claiming it was still a possibility for Apple.

“Apple has consistently released smart ring-related patents for several years, so advanced development for commercialization appears to be imminent,” alleged insiders told an ETNews report.

Apple was reportedly considering a launch date for the device, though the report stopped short of saying when and how it would launch.

This somewhat tracks, given ETNews doesn’t necessarily have the best track record when it comes to predicting future Apple products.

Apple Ring, an on-and-off rumor

The Apple Ring is an unusual rumored item that Apple is seemingly producing. There certainly is evidence, via patent filings, that it has been a consideration for the company, and for quite some time.

However, it’s also an item that, despite the evidence, doesn’t have any real concrete rumors saying it will be coming out soon, or within years.

It also isn’t consistently raised by the rumor mill either. Most stories that AppleInsider has covered about the Apple Ring has been about patent grants and applications, rather than speculation or analyst claims.

With the sheer number of patents involving rings, and the potential of a nascent marketplace, it’s a possibility. But, for those 17 years, it’s a concept that’s always been rumored to be about three or four years away.

We can’t close the circle on the Apple Ring today. But neither can we discount it as something that won’t ever happen.