The iWatch rumors are back -- this time more vigorously than ever before. What was once speculation is now turning into a well-informed prediction: One of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook's pledged products in "new categories" will almost certainly be the iWatch, and it will launch this year.

Motorola's Moto 360 smartwatch. Many manufacturers look poised to make big bets on the nascent wearables category. Can Apple launch it into the mainstream? Image source: Motorola.

Wearables on steroids
When it come to inputs for cables and storage devices, Apple lead the charge with a huge emphasis on going as as cable- and slot-free as possible. That's why it was no surprise when The New York Times reported in February that the iWatch is likely to utilize inductive wireless charging technology.

But when it comes to sensors, on the other hand, Apple's approach seems quite the opposite: the more, the better. The Wall Street Journal's most in-depth report so far on the iWatch, which surfaced sometime around o' dark thirty this morning, asserts that the new wrist device from Apple will include "more than 10 sensors including ones to track health and fitness."

"Apple aims to address an overarching criticism of existing smartwatches that they don't provide functions significantly different from that of a smartphone, said a person familiar with the matter," WSJ's Eva Dou and Lorraine Luk explained.

Such critiques are common for Samsung's Galaxy Gear 2, which seems like more of an extension of the smartphone than its own device.

The rest of the latest iWatch rumors
The latest WSJ report also confirmed and added to previous rumors. Again citing sources "familiar with the matter," here is a summary of the latest key predictions.

  • The device will be launched "as early as October."
  • iWatch production will take place at Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer, not Foxconn as previously thought.
  • The device will come in multiple screen sizes.
  • The exact specifications of the device are still being finalized.
  • Citing "a component supplier," shipments are estimated to total between 10 million and 15 million by year-end.

With Apple's year-over-year growth rates in iPhone and iPad sales slowing in the past few years, investors are eager to see just how popular the iWatch will be with consumers.

Industry predictions for the wearables category are increasingly bullish. As Dou and Luk pointed out, IDC is predicting that sales of wearable devices will explode from around 6 million units in 2013 to 111.9 million to 2018.

Several sources are even predicting Apple will sell more iWatch units in the device's first year of availability than Apple sold iPad's in its first year.