The idea of an Apple smart ring launch has been bubbling since the company was first granted a related patent way back in 2015.
As of yet, however, nothing concrete has emerged from Apple.
Despite plenty of smart ring concepts and features being dreamt up in patent sketches since, we've also seen no reliable reports that a smart ring is even a serious consideration internally for the Cupertino giant.
With companies like Oura finding great success in the smart ring space, though, and a Samsung Galaxy Ring reportedly in the works, it's also more likely than ever that an Apple ring will arrive over the next few years.
In this guide, then, we'll be analyzing everything we know so far about an Apple smart ring.
Below, you'll find hints at what an Apple ring could potentially do, as well as how much we think one would cost and when it could realistically launch.
What would an Apple smart ring do?
It would be logical to suggest Apple would follow current smart ring trends and focus any potential device toward health monitoring.
And while this is certainly possible - especially given the focus it's shown in developing the Apple Watch health features - most of the patents the company has been granted envision a ring that integrates with the rest of the Apple ecosystem as a controller.
Let's look at some of the most notable patents that have emerged over the last few years.
Apple / USPTO
A patent we reported on back in 2020 builds on an earlier filing relating to the idea of a smart ring acting as a controller, discussing "faster, more efficient methods and interfaces for controlling external electronic devices" in the fine print.
While other patents relate to gesture or voice control, this filing details the possibility of a screen even appearing on a ring device.
"The ring computing device can also receive information from external devices in the form of messages or images on a touchscreen, pulses or vibrations of haptic actuators, and sound," the patent includes.
AR/VR headset control
As detailed in the company's most recently granted patent application - filed in September 2022 and granted in December 2022 - the potential ring could be used directly alongside an AR/VR headset.
"A finger device may be used as a controller for a virtual reality or mixed reality device (e.g., head-mounted equipment such as glasses, goggles, a helmet, or other device with a display)," the patent's description reads.
The application also makes reference to haptic feedback being part of the experience, with the position of the non-ring-wearing fingers also able to register based on the position of the ring-wearing finger.
Gesture and swipe control for phones and earbuds
Apple / USPTO
In this patent granted to Apple by the USPTO, the company again views the smart ring form factor as a controller. And, like in other concepts, the function is primarily related to interacting more easily with AR/VR devices, laptops, and phones.
While other patents relate to touch control or location tracking, however, this filing instead details looks at gestures - even detailing the idea of a scrolling ball, kind of like in a computer mouse.
"Ring input device can be utilized to provide wireless inputs for a wide variety of devices. Ring input device could be used to provide inputs to handheld devices such as smartphones (scrolling through a list using the outer band)," the patent reads.
The ring is also imagined to control other wearables, headphones, smart home devices, and desktop computers is also referenced.
Blood pressure and blood oxygen monitoring
Apple / USPTO
In another December 2022 smart ring patent won by Apple, entitled 'Wearable Self-Mixing Interferometry Device Used To Sense Physiological Conditions', the company deviates from its typical idea of a smart ring being a controller and instead focuses on health tracking applications.
In the patent, a ring that can track heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and more is referenced, with an OLED display also appearing in one figure.
Is Apple working on a smart ring now?
Unlike the never-ending influx of rumors relating to the upcoming Apple mixed-reality headset, we've heard no word from industry insiders about an Apple smart ring being in production.
At the moment, the company appears dead-set on producing headsets and smartglasses as its next major hardware release, as well as developing its accompanying ambient computing platform.
All of this makes sense, considering the scale of appeal compared to a more limited wearable like a smart ring. Even 'Project Titan', which relates to the long-rumored Apple Car, appears to have been deprioritized in the last couple of years.
The consistent stream of patent filings does suggest that the folks in charge of Apple's innovation do have one eye on smart rings, though, so it's not entirely impossible that an in-house team is performing some due diligence relating to the form factor and developing prototypes.
How much would an Apple smart ring cost?
With no real indications of how Apple would even develop a smart ring, predicting the ballpark of how much it would cost is as difficult as it sounds.
Based on what we know from the rest of the company's products, though, it's fair to expect that there would be a slight premium compared to the rest of the market.
And given the current industry leader Oura has its Oura Ring Gen 3 hovering around the $400 - $500 mark, this is around the minimum we would expect an Apple smart ring to arrive at.
With a bit of inflation thrown in there, it's also likely that the Apple ring's price tag would cost even more than this.
But, again, price is dependent on many, many factors.
It's possible, for example, that an Apple ring would arrive as an accessory, rather than a premium device - and that could lead to the price actually sitting more around the $200 - $300 mark.
Will Apple release a smart ring soon?
As you'll have gathered if you've made it this far, the launch of an Apple smart ring any time soon is very unlikely.
With no rumors of in-house development, and Apple prioritizing different technologies and its existing products, the chances are slim-to-nil that we'll see any kind of release over the next few years.
With what we've seen from the patents, however, the focus does appear to be on a smart ring that's primarily an input device.
This could mean the clamor for a gesture-based controller on the finger increases as VR and AR develops over the next half-decade, at which point the smart ring market would also likely have developed further.
Waiting for interest to develop in a form factor before joining the party would also match up with Apple's typical M.O. - something we saw with its entry into smartwatches, for example.
It's a bit of a long shot, obviously, but this would appear to be the most likely avenue for an Apple smart ring release. And with this focus, it would also mean an Apple ring wouldn't cross over with the Apple Watch line too much.
With all that in mind, then, let's take a wild punt and estimate an Apple smart ring release happens in 2030. Why not, eh?
How we test