The Apple Watch Series 2 was announced at Apple's event on 7 September 2016, where the new watch brought new features like GPS, a dual-core processor, water-resistance and a brighter display. The Watch Series 2 is a healthy step forward and we're really fond of it.
However, there are some features we still would have liked to see, especially with Apple patents floating around the internet. In this article we discuss what we would like to see in the Apple Watch Series 3, alongside any rumours.
Apple Watch 3 release date and price: When will the Watch 3 come out and how much will it cost?
We expect the Series 3 to come out in September 2017, a year after the Series 2. This would fit a natural upgrade cycle in Apple's product line.
We do have a hunch that Apple might release a Series 2 S in March 2017, with the new S version adding extra storage options to the current 2GB Apple Watch Series 2 line-up. We would expect a 4GB and 8GB models to provide runners with less reliance on their iPhones.
Apple Watch 3 design and build: How will the Watch 3 look like?
We expect the Watch 3 to look and feel like the current Series 2 watches, with the Hermes, Nike+ and Ceramic variants to be alternative options for buyers. There are some who are even speculating different straps, a new FaceTime camera and even a circular design.
We could also see no change to the design, apart from new colours added to the line-up, but below are some rumours and radical designs we might see incorporated in the Watch 3.
Apple Watch 3 design rumours: Multi-function bands
Apple might be considering a new multi-function band. As first spotted by AppleInsider, Apple recently filed an interesting patent by the name of "Magnetic Wristband", and details a magnetic wristband for the Apple Watch that offers additional functionality.
According to the patent, the magnetic wristband will, obviously, feature a set of magnets embedded into it, allowing the two sides to join together. For consumers, this means that when worn, the magnets would hold the Apple Watch in place (much like Apple's Milanese Loop) - but it's when the watch is taken off that the new band comes into its own.
The strap could be wrapped around the watch, which would suspend the screen in the middle of the straps, ideal for protection when being stored or transported. As well as offering additional protection, the strap could also double up as a stand (ideal for Apple's nightstand mode) as it's been designed to roll up behind the Watch, propping it up.
Apple Watch 3 design rumours: Front-facing camera for selfies & FaceTime
Apple has patents for a wearable device that features a front-facing camera. It was rumoured to appear in the Series 2, but the feature wasn't announced. It's likely we could see this feature being included in the next iteration.
Opinions differ on whether this is intended to cater for FaceTime or selfies (or both), and whether it will offer video or just stills photography. The new camera would be integrated into the top bezel of the watch.
This feature does sound interesting, though we're not too sure how many people would actively FaceTime via a watch. It would get annoying holding up the wrist for more than a few minutes, for one thing.
Still, Apple has already made its watch partially FaceTime-ready: watchOS 2 brought support for FaceTime audio calls. Does that indicate that it'll soon move on to video calls? Perhaps.
Patently Apple, meanwhile, has spotted an Apple patent that appears to support the inclusion of a selfie camera - a front-facing stills camera, in other words; not necessarily one that's capable of FaceTime video - in an Apple Watch in the future.
Patent 20160174025, which pertains in seemingly broad terms to methods for 'facilitating access to location-specific information using wireless devices', but actually focuses on wearables, contains a reference to digital photography:
"Camera 229 can include, e.g., a compact digital camera that includes an image sensor such as a CMOS sensor and optical components (e.g. lenses) arranged to focus an image onto the image sensor, along with control logic operable to use the imaging components to capture and store still and/or video images. Images can be stored, e.g., in storage subsystem 204 and/or transmitted by wearable device 200 to other devices for storage. Depending on implementation, the optical components can provide fixed focal distance or variable focal distance; in the latter case, autofocus can be provided. In some embodiments, camera 229 can be disposed along an edge of face member 104 of FIG. 1, e.g., the top edge, and oriented to allow a user to capture images of nearby objects in the environment such as a bar code or QR code. In other embodiments, camera 229 can be disposed on the front surface of face member 104, e.g., to capture images of the user. Zero, one, or more cameras can be provided, depending on implementation." Also see: How to write apps for the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch 3 design rumours: Circular display
There are two visually different kinds of smartwatch currently on the market: square and circular. The former is the form factor that the Apple Watch has adopted, and while it looks stylish and has the fashion industry excited, we hope that Apple creates a circular variation for those of us that appreciate the design of a traditional circular watch.
Smartwatches like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R look like traditional watches with completely digital, circular displays and are extremely popular - we doubt that's a coincidence.
There are UI issues with a circular display, namely getting the text to fit on screen properly. Ironically, this is an issue that Huawei showcases on its Huawei Watch page. We think this is more due to Android Wear being used by a variety of smartwatches, all with different sized and shaped displays. If Apple were to create a circular display, we think the UI would reflect the decision because it's designed specifically for that hardware.
Apple Watch 3 new features: Wishlist of new features in the Series 3
Here are rumours and a wishlist of features we would like to see included in the new Watch Series 3.
Apple Watch 3: Battery life
There was great speculation about the battery life of the Apple Watch on the run up to its announcement. Unfortunately, the Series 2 has the same quoted battery life as the original, even though it has a larger battery within it.
Even though Apple claim that the Apple Watch has an "all day battery life", it's a device that still has to be charged each night, much like the iPhone. The issue with "all day battery life" is that you have to charge it almost every evening, which isn't always possible.
Looking at rivals like the Pebble Time Steel, which has a pretty amazing battery life of around 10 days, it makes the Apple Watch battery seem a bit disappointing. Yes, the Pebble Time Steel uses a less power hungry display, but even a five-day Apple Watch battery life would be better than having to charge it every night.
It also opens up more functionality in the Apple Watch, mainly with regards to sleep tracking. With a longer battery life, users could wear the Apple Watch to bed and get accurate stats about their sleep - information that's pretty popular, judging by the success of apps like Sleep Cycle.
According to a rumour picked up by gforgames, Apple is working with LG and Samsung to produce thinner OLED displays for the second generation Apple Watch to accommodate a larger battery. The larger battery should provide the Apple Watch 3 with a longer battery life, though the report doesn't specify just how long it might last.
Apple Watch 3: New health sensors
In an interview with The Telegraph, Tim Cook hinted that the company may make a medically approved device, but it wouldn't be the Apple watch. Cook explained that the disruption that FDA accreditation would cause to the product release cycle, which ultimately put him off having the Apple Watch vetted for full-blown health use. Although with this being said, it hasn't completely put him off the idea of building a product for use in the medical world:
"We don't want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I wouldn't mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it - maybe an app, maybe something else."
Ahead of its official launch, there was a lot of talk regarding the Apple's wearable and specifically, that it'd be loaded with health sensors. So far that's not proven to be the case, with heart-rate and activity tracking offering a standard level of fitness tracking, but nothing more. Even though Cook has stated that it'd be a different device. It looks like it could come with a full suite of health sensors, which is something we'd welcome.
Following the interview, a number of Apple job listings have come to light and with them, a look at what Apple may be currently working on. In December 2015 and January 2016, Apple posted two listings looking for biomedical engineers with a background in "medical, health, wellness and/or fitness sensors, devices and applications". Although there is no mention of the Apple Watch in the listings, it's widely assumed that the roles are related to the listing for a fitness software engineering manager, which went up in November and is specifically for the Apple Watch.
BuzzFeed News also reported that over the last three months, Apple has stolen employees from all over the medical field. An example given by the news outlet is Anne Shelchuk, who has a doctorate in biomedical engineering. Shelchuk left the ultrasound software company ZONARE Medical Systems back in November to work with Apple's health technology team, according to her LinkedIn. Along with Shelchuk, Apple has reportedly snapped up medical engineer Craig Slyfield, system design engineer Nathan Clark, who has a patent for a device that separates cells, Jay Mung, who worked on sensor algorithms for Medtronic's continuous glucose monitoring systems and Jennifer Hillier, a former exercise physiologist at the University of California.
Apple Watch 3: Less reliance on iPhone
Canalys and IDC, both of which are industry analyst firms have stated that wearables are set to rise in popularity within the next couple of years. In Canalys analysis, the firm predicted a total 7.5 million smart watches to feature cellular connectivity.
This number does depend on Apple's inclusion of cellular connectivity in their watch product line, but it seems that the analyst firm is confident that the feature will be included soon. It wasn't in the new Series 2 watch, but we did see the inclusion of GPS, a step in the right direction.
As it stands, the Apple Watch Series 2 supports activity tracking (with GPS), music playback and mobile payments without a paired iPhone, with many other features including text messaging, emailing and using third-party apps impossible without an iPhone for the Apple Watch to communicate with. The release of watchOS 2 (and later watchOS 3) brought the ability for third-party apps to run natively on the Watch, but the apps still require an iPhone to send and receive data.
We would like to see the Series 3 add a new wireless chipset and cellular connectivity, to make it less reliant on the iPhone. While it probably won't be able to handle data-heavy requests (such as software updates), other tasks could be handled without the assistance of an iPhone.
Some are suggesting that the Watch 3 will be able to run on its own, allowing it to run independently from an iPhone. In this respect, it's rumoured that the Watch 3 will have an untethered mode, allowing you to directly connect your Apple Watch 3 to a network, directly from the watch itself. We don't think Apple will allow this, due to the battery impact it will have on the device.
There are even more speculations surrounding the inclusion of a 3G or 4G-LTE-enabled Apple Watch 3 that will bring a lot new connectivity options to the upcoming watch. However, this might raise concern for those wanting a better battery life.
According to a blog post from Apple, all apps developed from 1 June for the Apple Watch must be 'native' - that is, apps that can operate from the Watch instead of the user's tethered iPhone. This may have a positive impact on speed, given that apps will now all run right there on your wrist.
This also ties in in part to another report from the Wall Street Journal that the Apple Watch may get cellular connectivity. We've seen smartwatches from Samsung that ship with 3G connectivity, and allow users to make and receive calls without their phone. It complicates things slightly for mobile operators as Apple will have to make it clear how the user is billed for cellular usage over two devices.
However, potential cellular connectivity for Apple Watch 3 is exciting, as severing the tie between the Watch and iPhone is an important technological step to the Watch being the all day every day personal assistant Apple is clearly dreaming of. Being able to bring up native apps over a network connection without your phone might unlock new possibilities for watchOS developers. Also see: Apple Watch rivals compared
Apple Watch 3 charging: Qi wireless-charging capabilities
The form of wireless charging used by the Apple Watch is a great feature; it snaps into place using magnets and leaves no unattractive port on the watch. The only issue is that if your battery runs out while you're away from home, Apple Watch chargers will be hard to come across.
An ideal situation would be for the Apple Watch to support Qi charging, a wireless charging standard that's becoming increasingly popular, with companies like Samsung including the technology in its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S6. While wireless charging pads aren't as popular as cables, there's more chance of you coming across one on your travels - McDonalds, for example, has said it is installing 600 Qi hotspots in 50 restaurants for the public to use. Also see: Best Apple Watch apps
Apple Watch 3 straps: Smart Straps
Smart straps are a fantastic idea, which Pebble realised and implemented in the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel. Pebble are letting developers and manufacturers alike create their own smart straps that connect to the watch via a smart accessory port.
What's the big deal? Smart straps have the potential to make a good smartwatch great; from a battery pack strap that gives your watch extra battery power, to a strap that has built-in LEDs that flash whenever you get a notification. You could even go one step further, and cover the strap in LEDs for a truly unique design.
Fitness fans could have a workout strap with extra sensors that improve the health and fitness functionality of the Watch. The possibilities are there: Apple just needs to allow the manufacturers the freedom to create!
This also will bring some other ideas to the table, such as a fob strap or a way of turning the Apple Watch into a pendant. In the past, projects have been funded to change the design of the strap of the Apple Watch, but we would like to see this come from Apple too. Also see: Apple Watch buying guide and price list
Apple Watch 2 water-resistance: Better waterproofing
The new Series 2 is IPX7 certified and can be taken on swims. However, despite its water-resistant claims (and not waterproof), we are very well aware of Apple's current warranty terms and conditions for water damage are disappointing. Whereby, if the Apple Watch is used with soapy water (such as when you're in the shower), you would effectively be voiding its warranty.
We would like to see a greater emphasis on water-resistance or full waterproofing options with the new Watch 3. Be this a change in the design or an update to Apple's terms and conditions. Also see: Best Apple Watch games
Apple Watch 3 rumours: Tech specs
Here we'll talk about the inside of the Apple Watch 3: what changes can we expect to its tech specs?
Apple Watch 3 Touch ID
We were hoping to see Touch ID integrated within the Series 2, but unfortunately didn't see it included. For the 2017model, we would expect Touch ID to be integrated within the new watch's display. This would bypass the need to have a passcode, making the overall user experience a lot better.
Apple Watch 3 storage space
The current line of Apple Watches only has 2GB of storage space. This might be enough for a few songs for your running playlists, but in comparison to its competitors, such as the Sony Smartwatch 3 and Moto 360 Sport (among many others), these two Android smartwatches have 4GB of internal storage space.
We would like to see 4-16GB of storage space included. Given that NAND flash storage is so small, an increase in storage size won't take up any room and yet will enable people to put their entire music collection on their Watch 3.
Apple Watch 3 specs: Why the Apple Watch 3 needs an ARM Cortex A32 processor
This section was written before the Series 2 and new Series 1 watches were announced, so its relevance is less important, given that we have the S1P and S3 dual-core processors in the current Apple Watch generations. Nevertheless, this small CPU might still prove to be something of interest to certain users.
ARM has revealed a brand new design for an ultra-tiny CPU built specifically for wearables like the Apple Watch and we want the ARM Cortex A32 in the next-generation Apple Watch.
ARM processors have long formed the heart of Apple's iOS devices, even though it builds its own SoCs, or systems-on-a-chip, under the A and S banners. So it's no stretch to see this new chip's timing being perfect for an Apple Watch upgrade, and it could solve many of the Apple Watch problems we're having.
Inside the ARM Cortex A32
First and foremost, the A32 promises better battery life, with faster performance and lower power usage. It's up to 25 percent quicker than the current ARM offering, and it achieves this while reducing power consumptions.
"The Cortex-A32 delivers 25% more efficiency (performance per mW) than the Cortex-A7 in the same process node. Cortex-A32 delivers this efficiency through a combination of both performance improvements and power reduction," says ARM.
The Cortex-A32 processor incorporates new power management features compared to Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A5 processors, thereby providing more capabilities for embedded applications that require minimal idle power consumption.
The new ARM Cortex A32 looks set to solve many of our gripes with the Apple Watch. It's faster, so apps and the interface can respond more quickly.
The ARM Cortex A32 has better power management so the Apple Watch may have a longer battery life (or be less quick to shut off the screen).
The new chip also offers better media playback functionality which may improve the Apple Watch's audio and video playback ability.
New Apple Watch chip could be 32-bit powerhouse
The new ARM A32 uses the new ARMv8-A architecture but in a 32-bit only environment. This 32-bit environment is critical because a 64-bit processor draws too much power for the Apple Watch, and the newer ARMv8 architecture enables the device to be more efficient.
The current CPU in the Apple Watch (branded the S1 but designated "APL0778") uses the older ARMv7 architecture with a PowerVR SG543 graphics processing unit.
ARMv8 has so far been limited to power-hungry 64-bit processors, like the ARM A35, the type that sits inside the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro. The new Cortex A32 is largely an ARM A35 with a 32-bit architecture.
ABI Research has the best analysis of what's currently inside the Apple Watch.
The new ARM Cortex A32 is designed for wearables, like the Apple Watch, as well as the upcoming Internet of Things (iOT) and small microcontroller boards like the Raspberry Pi.
ARM says: "[ARM Cortex A32] is suitable to use in a range of embedded markets that require higher performance than a microcontroller, or have the need for a rich OS such as Linux, Android or Windows."
The new ARM Cortex A32 is designed to scale down to an incredibly small footprint. The smallest configuration of the Cortex-A32 processor occupies less than 0.25x0.25 mm and consumes less than 4mW at 100MHz in 28nm.
On the other hand, a larger Quad-Core configuration is available running at 1 GHz, matching the kind of desktop-class power found in mobile phones and Raspberry Pi devices.
According to ARM, the Cortex A32 offers these benefits:
ARMv8-A (AArch32) instruction set
Enhanced floating point performance
Substantially faster software encryption
Enhanced media performance
"The ARM Cortex-A32 processor is the smallest, lowest-power ARMv8-A application processor designed to bring efficiency and architectural improvements The Cortex-A32 is based on an 8-stage in-order pipeline that has been extensively optimised to implement the 32-bit instruction set of the ARMv8-A architecture profile in the smallest possible die area while significantly reducing dynamic power consumption compared to the current leader, the Cortex-A7 processor.