Apple is trying to turn its smartwatch from a niche gadget into a lifeline to better health by slowly evolving it into a medical device.
In its fourth incarnation, called Series 4 and due out later this month, the Apple Watch will add features that allow it to take high-quality heart readings and detect falls. It's part of Apple's long-in-the-making strategy to give people a distinct reason to buy a wrist gadget that largely does things smartphones already do.
Since the Apple Watch launched in April 2015 , most people haven't figured out why they need to buy one. Apple doesn't release sales figures, but estimates from two analysts suggest the company shipped roughly 18 million watches in 2017. Apple sold almost 12 times as many iPhones — 216 million — last year.
Worldwide, about 48 million smartwatches are expected to be sold this year, compared with nearly 1.9 billion phones, according to the research firm Gartner.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long emphasized the watch's health and fitness-tracking capabilities. The original version featured a heart-rate sensor that fed data into fitness and workout apps so they could suggest new goals and offer digital "rewards" for fitness accomplishments.
Walmart's Jet.com sells Nike sneakers
Walmart-owned Jet.com will soon sell Nike products on its site as it seeks to catch up with Amazon ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Jet says Nike sneaker, clothing and other gear will be available in October. The deal comes a year after Nike, which has made a push to sell more swoosh-branded products online, started selling some products on Amazon.com. Nike says the deal is exclusive to Jet and doesn't include Walmart.
Jet, which Walmart bought in 2016, has been positioning itself as a shopping site for young city-dwellers. This fall, customers in New York will be able to pick three-hour windows for same-day or next day delivery for groceries, detergents and some gifts. Jet says it plans to expand that to other cities around the country.
Bezos starts charity with $2 billion fund
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday that he is giving $2 billion to start a fund that will open preschools in low-income neighborhoods and give money to nonprofits that helps homeless families.
Bezos, whose stake in Amazon is worth about $160 billion, says that he'll call it the Bezos Day One Fund. An Amazon.com Inc. spokeswoman confirmed that the money will all come from Bezos, though there are few details about how the fund will operate.
In a post to his Twitter account, Bezos said one part of the fund will give money to organizations and groups that provide shelter and food to young homeless families. The other part will launch and operate free preschools in low-income communities, where "the child will be the customer."
It's not yet known what his preschools will look like except that they will be based on the teaching philosophy of Maria Montessori, which focuses on individual learning and social-emotional development.
Bezos, who founded Amazon as an online book store more than two decades ago, has seen his wealth surge along with Amazon's stock. Forbes magazine placed him at the top of its list of billionaires for the first time this year, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett.
Mortgage rates climb; 30-year at 4.6 percent
Long-term U.S. mortgage rates this week jumped to their highest level since the start of August, raising costs for would-be homebuyers.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 4.60 percent from 4.54 percent last week. The average rate has surged from 3.78 percent a year ago, posting the largest annual gain since May 2014.
The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.06 percent this week from 3.99 percent last week.
Solid job growth has boosted demand from would-be homebuyers. But rising prices, a shortage of sales listings and higher rates have been a drag on sales. The National Association of Realtors said last month that existing homes have tumbled 1.5 percent over the past year.