Apple Watch companion? Apple patents tiny mobile hotspot

Apple “has rethought the concept of the mobile hotspot for situations where a person wants connectivity but doesn’t want to carry around their smartphone, such as when they’re jogging or doing other physical activities,” Liam Tung reports for ZDNet.

“The company applied for a patent for such a device in 2013, which was published by the US Patents and Trademarks Office yesterday,” Tung reports. “The patent shows a cylindrical unit that’s small enough to sit on a keychain and is activated with a twisting motion.”

“There’s no mention of the Apple Watch in the patent, but as some have noted, it could be a useful companion for the wearable, which currently relies on an iPhone’s network connection for many of its functions,” Tung reports. “While the Watch is one use case for the hotspot, Apple notes that the device’s compact design and smaller battery requirements also make it a useful way of avoiding connecting to shared hotspots, which for various reasons can be security risks. The device would also be would be more portable than most existing mobile hotspots.”

Read more, and see Apple’s patent application illustration, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re just about to dump our Nike+ Running app (and stop all of our Nike stats collection) for Apple’s Workout because we just want to run with only our Apple Watches.


  1. From Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance: “By the end of the decade, smartwatches from Apple Inc. and others might elicit guffaws rather than envy. At least that’s the view of Montblanc’s Alexander Schmiedt, who’s developed an electronic watchband for Swiss luxury timepieces that tracks steps, reads emails and even helps take selfies.” I’m thinking they are a little worried over the Apple Watch.

    1. “by the end of the decade…” what’s that in “Apple” time – about 42 years?

      Good luck to them with that timeframe.

      Where will the puck be then?

      1. I don’t think they mean the product will arrive near the end of the decade. Just that by the end of the decade enough of those bands will be out to make smartwatches seem passe.

  2. A device that serves as a hotspot would be handy for folks who travel but don’t have data capability on, say, their iPad as well as folks who want to tether to something other than their phone. But it wouldn’t do much good for folks exercising with a watch. For them you’d need GPS and bluetooth. Not that a small form factor, single device with GPS, bluetooth, cell data and wifi isn’t doable. I would think the limiting factor is the antennas.

  3. What would be good is if the changeable batteries could also be used as portable power packs for other devices. I currently carry a small spare battery which in an emergency can top off my phone, but can also be used on my ebook reader and bluetooth headphones. If I could tack on a mobile wifi signal for little extra space and weight it would be good. It would also truly negate the need for an iPad with a sim card. You almost wouldn’t need a data plan on your phone either. Just have a call plan, and then data via this keyring device shared between whatever devices you have with you – although of course you may not want to turn it on and off if using it as your primary data source.

  4. I suppose this highlights that as devices do more and more they reduce the number of devices we need (e.g. the phone did away for most people’s need for a camera), but as we use them more and more as a result we start to want to have specialised devices again (access to functionality on our wrist) and therefore we start to get an overlap of functionality and potential need for extra devices to try and balance those needs. It’s impractical to have a sim and data plan for a watch, a phone, and an iPad; and it’s also impractical to have all of them with you so you can be sure you can always have access to the internet.

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