Apple Ring is a great idea but it’s just that… for now

Apple's smart ring is a skunkworks experiment, not a production reality – or at least, it isn't yet

Samsung Galaxy Ring at Unpacked presentation
(Image credit: Samsung)

We're expecting to see the Samsung Galaxy Ring (pictured above) this week at the MWC exhibition, but if Apple's working on a rival ring then we'll have to wait a lot longer to see it: while reports that Apple has been experimenting with such a small wearable, it's still very much in the experimental stage.

That's according to Mark Gurman of, who says that while there are people in Apple who are really pushing the concept of an Apple smart ring it's not something that's actively in development. As long-time Apple watchers know, Apple explores all kinds of ideas, patents many of them and prototypes more, but there are all kinds of reasons why Apple might then decide not to go ahead.

One of those reasons might not be technological: an Apple smart ring wouldn't be as big a seller as an Apple Watch. Analysts estimate that that's a $17 billion business for Apple just now, but it's taken nine generations to get there. A smart ring is likely to face a similar uphill challenge for a smaller market size.

Why an Apple ring makes sense – and why it doesn't

We know that Apple is very interested in the health and fitness market, which it sees as a key area of growth for many years to come: for example multiple patents and rumours suggest that AirPods could become more like hearing aids or include sensors that track some of our vitals and send them to the Health app. And a smart ring makes sense for a lot of sensors, because if you have a smart device that doesn't have a screen you have a smart device that doesn't need recharged every day or two. 

Apple has filed at least half a dozen patents relating to smart rings, and one of them describes using a ring with an SMI (self-mixing interferometry) sensor that could track heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure and other key metrics. Its patents also describe what's effectively an Apple Watch without the size, a ring containing microphones for Siri and potentially a small OLED display.

However, as we've seen from the Apple Watch it takes more than putting something in a patent to make it real: blood pressure sensing has long been rumoured for the Apple Watch but it's still absent from the Apple Watch Series 9. As fun as speculation on a smart ring is, for now Apple seems more focused on improving the Apple Watch than making a smaller and potentially less useful and popular alternative.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).