- Apple may unveil a smartwatch next week
- The company filed for a patent for the 'iWatch' in July
- Samsung released its first smartwatch a year ago
- Other competitors are also crowding the field
After years hovering in the vapor, little more than a dream for Apple fanatics everywhere, the elusive iWatch may be days away from becoming a reality.
But it will hardly be the first smartwatch to hit the market. After breaking ground with products like the iPhone and iPad, Apple finds itself playing catch-up in the wearables world.
The Pebble watch was the first smartwatch to gain any kind of notoriety. In 2012, the smartwatch pulled in more than $10 million on Kickstarter. Pebble connects to an iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth and has a growing selection of its own apps.
Smartwatches have become much more feature-rich since the launch of the Pebble.
Samsung leads the pack in jack-of-all-trades smartwatches. A year after releasing its first smartwatch, Samsung unveiled its third device in the line last week. The Gear S smartwatch has a curved screen and 3G connectivity, making it the first smartwatch from a major company that doesn't require a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone.
There's also the LG G Watch R and Moto 360, two newish devices that are aiming to have a more fashionable design and take advantage of Google's Android Wear platform.
So far, smartwatches haven't caught on widely in the way smartphones and tablets have. Whether Apple's entry into the field changes that remains to be seen.
Apple was granted a patent for a smartwatch in July -- with a touch screen, an accelerometer, a GPS receiver, Bluetooth and alerts via vibration. The iWatch in the patent connects to a mobile device, displays notifications and allows users to accept or decline phone calls.
Apple is expected to unveil its iWatch smartwatch on September 9.