- When is the Apple Watch 3 release date?
- How much will the Apple Watch 3 cost in the UK?
- Apple Watch 3 design rumours
- Apple Watch camera rumours
- New Apple Watch could have a Micro-LED display
- Will the new Apple Watch have better battery life?
- The Apple Watch 3 could offer 3G/4G cellular capabilities
- Will there be additional health sensors in the Apple Watch 3?
- What will the other hardware specs be like?
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. Also see: Apple Watch Deals 2017.
However, there are some features we still would have liked to see, many of which we are hoping will appear in the next version of the Apple Watch - and we may be in luck as there are a number of Apple patents that suggest Apple is looking into improving these aspects of the Watch. In this article we discuss what we would like to see in the Apple Watch Series 3, alongside any rumours about the new features and technologies that will be offered by the next Apple Watch.
When is the Apple Watch 3 release date?
We expect the Apple Watch Series 3 to come out in September 2017, a year after the Series 2. However, there was more than a year between the original Apple Watch, which launched in April 2015, and the second version of the Apple Watch, so it is possible that we could be waiting until 2018 for the launch of the next Apple Watch.
It may not matter if a new Watch isn't launched until 2018 as we don't suppose that people update their Watches as often as yearly. That said, anyone looking to purchase a new smartwatch will want the best technology on offer, and if the Apple Watch can't compete with other offerings it may lose out on customers.
And there are a number of new technologies appearing in competitor watches that we think will could make the Apple Watch 2 pale in comparison. So we hope that Apple will update its watch in September.
A report in China's Economic Daily News predicts a third quarter release for the next hardware iteration of the Apple Watch.
As does a report in Taiwan's DigiTimes, which claims that Apple is moving away from a touch-on-lens display to a glass-film touch system. This won't make any appreciable difference to the user, but the interesting element is the report that the touch panels will begin shipping in the second half of 2017 - just in time for a September release. This is the first solid rumour yet about the Apple Watch 3 supply chain kicking into action. You can read more about the new screen technologies in the Apple Watch 3 below.
However, there is also a rumour that Apple could release a Series 2 'S' in March 2017, with the new S version adding extra storage options to the current Apple Watch Series 2 line-up, which although it has 8GB of storage most of that is given to the operating system, leaving just 2GB for photos and 75MB for music. With Apple's focus on music and images we think it's a logical step for them to offer more storage for this. We'd also like to see storage for apps - more on this below.
How much will the Apple Watch 3 cost in the UK?
We expect the Watch Series 3 to start from £369 for the 38mm and £399 for the 42mm. These are the current prices of the Series 2 watches.
However, Apple often drops the price of the previous generation of its products, reducing the cost of entry, so we would also expect a price drop of the Series 2 line by around £100 in September 2017, where the Series 1 watches would be then discontinued.
There is also the possibility that there will be the option of an even more expensive Apple Watch with cellular/mobile capabilities. We can see Apple introducing this technology at the top of the line with a price to match. See below for more information about an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities.
Apple Watch 3 design rumours
Will the Apple Watch 3 have a round face?
While we expect the Watch 3 to look and feel like the current Series 2 watches, there could be some changes to the materials used, to the size and shape of the screen, and to the straps.
The idea that Apple would change its philosophy and offer a round faced version of the Apple Watch seems rather too outlandish to us, and we would never have considered it possible had we not seen the following drawing in a patent:
That patent is actually related to a strap design technology, which we will discuss below. But it is definately a good reason to evaluate whether Apple would ever sell a watch with a circular face. One thing is apparent, the company has thought about such things, but we believe that Apple has at some point since that patent was designed, decided that rectangle is the way to go with the Apple Watch face.
Alternatively it could be round because Apple uses generic images for its patent designs to ensure a broad scope, and this doesn't necessarily mean the company is considering a round design.
However, there is a fierce debate over whether Apple is right to stick to rectanguar faces. There are many Android Wear smartwatches that have round faces now making us wonder if people really do prefer circles.
Smartwatches like the Huawei Watch, Moto 360 and LG G Watch R look like traditional watches with completely digital, circular displays and are extremely popular. (Read our comparison of the Apple Watch 2 and Huawei Watch 2 here).
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 would be designed specifically for that hardware.
What shaped smartwatch do you prefer? Round or square?
Will Apple ship a platinum watch?
Before we move onto that watch strap patent, there's another design change that could be coming to the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch 2 added a new version with a ceramic casing, the next Apple Watch could offer a platinum casing (apparently in the past Apple has experimented with platinum). However, we think that's unlikley given that Apple has discontinued the 18-karat gold 'luxury' version of the Apple Watch.
Even 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 might be considering a new multi-function band which could see it move some of the technology from inside the watch to the strap. This new strap design could improve the Apple Watch battery life as it could incorporate a bigger battery inside the strap, rather than the watch itself. A patent, originally filed in 2015, shows off the design for a battery band that includes its own battery to keep the device running for longer.
The band would be charged inductively using the same charger as the Watch itself. In addition to a battery the band could also house other components in a modular design, with each link performing a separate function. Users would be able to swap modules out depending on their requirements.
The patent states the following: "In one or more embodiments, a method for utilizing functional components of band system for a wearable device may include: receiving identifiers at a wearable device from multiple modular functional band links connected to the wearable device, determining functionality available via the multiple modular functional band links utilizing the received identifiers, and communicating with one of the multiple modular functional band links to utilize the determined functionality."
The patent uses broad terminology and leads us to believe that the links can provide anything from extra battery power to a camera (which is also coined as a feature for the third-gen Watch), but we think Tim Cook has already announced the purpose of the strap.
Back in 2015, Cook said that while Apple had a keen interest in health-focused products, it decided against adding sensors to the Watch to avoid FDA approval as it "would hold [Apple] back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long", although Cook hinted at an accessory or app that could sit alongside it. "But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it - maybe an app, maybe something else." he teased.
So perhaps an Apple Watch of the future could move some components into the strap freeing up the watch face for other technologies.
There are other patents relating to the wrist band: first spotted by AppleInsider in 2016, Apple has filed a patent for a Magnetic Wristband. The patent details a wristband for the Apple Watch that would 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.
Will Apple Watch 3 be thinner & lighter?
One of the bonuses of the modular bands described above is that it could free up the watch face, enabling Apple to make that thinner, and lighter (although the whole watch could end up being heavier if you included the pimped up strap).
Apple Watch camera rumours:
Will the new Apple Watch do FaceTime?
We are hearing a number of rumours about Apple including a camera in the new Apple Watch. Currently the Apple Watch lacks a camera, instead it acts as a view finder for the iPhone camera. However, a future Apple Watch could include FaceTime capabilities, allowing users to make and receive FaceTime calls.
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 be painful 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.
Apple Watch 3 might have a selfie camera
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.
New Apple Watch could have a Micro-LED display
The new Apple Watch could have a micro-LED screen. By replacing the current OLED screen on the Apple Watch with a micro-LED display the Watch 3 could be brighter and more power-efficient, according to reports.
The new Micro LED panels are lighter, thinner, do not require backlighting like the current LCD panels, have a better brightness and are capable of higher resolutions.
There are also reports claining that Apple could change the glass panel technology it uses in the Watch. According to a DigiTimes sources at TPK Holding, Apple is abandoning its current glass panel technology: "Apple will adopt G/F (glass-film) touch solution in place of TOL for new Apple Watch and have Taiwan-based General Interface Solution or Hong Kong-based Biel Crystal Manufactory produce the G/F touch panels, with shipments to begin in the second half of 2017."
According to the report, the curved glass display of the Apple Watch caused major headaches for TPK in the manufacturing process, and that the company reported a loss due to the difficulties.
The resolution of the Apple Watch may also improve. Currently it is 390 x 312 pixels, but this is fewer ppi than some of the competition with other watches having higher resolutions.We expect this to be an area Apple will seek to improve, athough it possibly considers it a Retina display. Apple defines a Retina display as something over 300 pixels per inch, and says that people can't see more pixels than that when holding a device a foot from their eyes. Read: What is a Retina Display.
In another change we could see the display brightness improve - although it already increased in generation 2 of the Apple Watch.
Calls for the Apple Watch battery to improve were answered with the release of the Apple Watch 2, which features a battery that should last two days between charges (the original Apple Watch needed charging every day).
However, despite the improvements to battery life in the Apple Watch 2, Apple still has some way to go. There are competing smartwatches, like the Pebble Time Steel, with a battery life of around 10 days, making the Apple Watch battery seem a bit disappointing in comparison.
Better battery life also opens up more functionality in the Apple Watch, mainly with regards to sleep tracking. One problem with the Apple Watch battery is that the necessity of charging it at night means that people can't use it for 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.
Fortunately, it looks like Apple may be taking note. According to Economic Daily News Apple's focus with the Watch 3 is battery life, as per a January 2017 report on 9to5Mac.
Will the Apple Watch use Qi wireless-charging?
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
Speaking of charging, one rumour suggests that there could be a new wireless charger with the Apple Watch 3. There is an Apple patent which shows a wireless charging stand that would charge the Watch however it was placed on the base - ideal if you were using it as a bedside clock.
There is always room for improvements in charging technology, although charging currently takes two hours from 0-100.
Will the Apple Watch have an always on face showing the time?
Something else that could come with better battery life is the ability for the Apple Watch to be 'always on' or at least show the time constantly, rather than just when you raise your wrist.
The Apple Watch 3 could offer 3G/4G cellular capabilities
Canalys and IDC 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 (through its own SIM card), 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
Will there be additional health sensors in the Apple Watch 3?
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.
Will there be Touch ID on the Apple Watch 3?
We were hoping to see Touch ID integrated within the Series 2, but unfortunately didn't see it included. For the 2017 model, 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.
What will the other hardware specs be like?
Here we look at the storage and processor.
Will the new Apple Watch have more storage?
The current line of Apple Watches only has 2GB of storage space (there is actually a total of 8GB onboard but most of that goes to the operating system). 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 allocated to apps, photos and music. 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 more of their music collection on their Watch 3.
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.