This fall marks the eighth anniversary of the announcement of Apple’s newest major hardware category, the Apple Watch. In that time, it has become the leading example of a wearable device, and while other companies have spawned competitors, none have managed to match the popularity or cachet of the Apple Watch.
The device has also evolved—perhaps not as dramatically as the iPhone in its first eight years—moving from an all-in-one wrist-based phone replacement to one focused on health and fitness… and then back to the old days. roots of the telephone replacement. It has a bigger screen, more sensors and other case material, but you still can’t make your own watch faces.
What’s on tap for the Apple Watch this fall? If you’ll excuse the phrase, what does Apple have in store? Unsurprisingly, there are already rumors.
In recent years, there has been more than one report that Apple is working on another version of the Apple Watch: one that was aimed less at those looking for a fashionable accessory and more at the active users putting their device through the wringer. . While Apple has been trying to emphasize how rugged the Apple Watch is lately, there’s always room for improvement. (As someone who recently broke an Apple Watch, I can report it firsthand.)
The latest rumors suggest that a rugged Apple Watch could be released this fall, with a rubberized casing that’s less prone to dings and dings and offers better shock resistance for those taking their watch on runs, hikes and other more adventurous activities.
To me, this is the future of the Apple Watch: a wider range of models that stand out for more than just styling. A rugged Apple Watch would target a specific market not well addressed by the current lineup of devices and could help bring in brand new customers who wouldn’t have thought of it before. It may even open up Apple to adding brand new editions of the Apple Watch in the future, taking advantage of the device’s versatility.
Is it hot here?
Another report doing the rounds suggests that Apple could include a temperature sensor in the Series 8 Apple Watch. This would probably use infrared temperature readings and wouldn’t be able to give you exact data on your body temperature, just tell you if it suspects you have a fever and encourage you to verify this with a real thermometer. (It seems there are some limitations to checking the temperature from your wrist, depending on whether you’re indoors or out, for example.)
Adding additional sensors to the Apple Watch has hit some hurdles. For years there have been suggestions that blood pressure and blood sugar sensors could be in the works, but both have proved tough nuts to crack, partly from a technology perspective, but also in terms of regulatory approval. (There’s a reason Apple describes the blood oxygen functionality on the Series 6 and later as “not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a physician, and … designed for general fitness and wellness purposes only.”)
However, fever detection as a functionality is not only a function less critical than something like an EKG, but also a function with a decidedly practical application, as we still (yes, still) amid a pandemic of which fever is a common symptom.
On the big(er) screen
If there’s one place Apple can’t go wrong with the Apple Watch, it’s increasing the screen size. I’ve had a Series 4 for years and wouldn’t have replaced it if that aforementioned unfortunate incident hadn’t left me with a cracked screen.
I didn’t expect a big difference with the Series 7 I replaced it with, but I’m impressed with the difference that only twenty percent more real estate: everything feels less cramped, more information is available at a glance, and the use of an on-screen keyboard is strangely possible.
So the suggestion that a Series 8 watch could increase that by another 5 percent is surprisingly intriguing. It’s not so much that it represents a marked increase over the current screen size, but it shows Apple’s commitment to keep pushing how far its display technology can go. Such an increase would mean that the screen is now over 50 percent larger than that of the original Apple Watch eight years ago.
Of course, a bigger screen can go hand in hand with some more extensive redesign. Rumors have been circulating for a year or more that a “flat edge” version of the Apple Watch is in the works, perhaps more reminiscent of recent iPhone models, not to mention the perennial suggestion that Apple should aim for a round screen to replace the rectangular one.
However, I have to wonder: The Apple Watch look has become iconic, no less than the iPhones. In eight years, the design has gotten a little bigger, but it still looks much the same. So is it now time for Apple to make a big change to the overall look of its wearable? We’ll know for sure in a few months.