Unless Apple is sending us all on a wild goose chase, it looks like there might be something to those smartwatch rumors. Apple's alleged wrist-based computing device, which has been leaked several times during 2013, is looking even more likely now, as the company recently filed paperwork in Japan for a device called "iWatch."

The news comes from Bloomberg, which says Apple filed for the trademark on June 3 with the Japan Patent Office. The filing categorized the iWatch as a "handheld computer or watch device," which puts it right in line with previous expectations.

This is, however, the most solid clue about what Apple will actually call it. Apple's branding tendencies (iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iCloud, etc.) make "iWatch" the most obvious choice, but sources of the previous rumors only pointed to a nameless wrist-based computing device. It was the media that took the liberty of dubbing it "iWatch." But, if this filing is any indication, then it looks like Apple might embrace that obviousness as well.

The device, which could launch as early as late this year or as far off as late 2014, is expected to duplicate select iPhone and iPad functions. It could run a modified version of iOS, and could potentially combine native processing with notifications and select information transmitted from an iPhone. It could also rely heavily on Siri's voice control, and use some kind of biometric sensors for both security and health and fitness monitoring. Apple bought biometric sensor company Authentec last year.

Without a truly groundbreaking device since 2010's iPad, Apple (and its investors) would surely love to deliver another new landmark product. It might not be as easy this time around, though, as a handful of other big companies are also reportedly developing similar wrist-worn computing gizmos. Not long after the first iWatch rumors hit the press, we heard about smartwatches from Samsung, Google, Microsoft, and LG. So much for flying under the radar.

Source: Bloomberg, via 9to5Mac

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