In 2022 the Apple Watch Series 8 will replace the current Apple Watch Series 7 in Apple's portfolio. After Apple denied the claims of the biggest leakers last autumn and presented a new Watch with even rounder sides instead of a straight edged smartwatch, no one can really be sure what to expect from Series 8.
Traditionally, the rumours about the Apple Watch are much rarer than, for example, about the upcoming iPhone. The watch interests fewer users, and Apple uses fewer suppliers to construct it, which makes it easier for Apple to control those suppliers when it comes to leaked information. But the Apple Watch has been on the market for almost six years, so some trends can be predicted.
A Tick-Tock cycle usually refers to a development in design or technology that alternates - a change might happen every other year: one year on, one year off. It looks like Apple applies the tick-tock cycle to the Apple Watch, or at least it has since the Series 3. With the Apple Watch 3 we gained a cellular version and the Series 5 brought us the Always-On display.
The Series 4 on the other hand gave us a new larger display and ECG (Electrocardiogram) measurements, with the Series 6 we gained a blood oxygen sensor.
The innovations of the Series 7 are comparable to the changes seen with the Series 3 and 5: a larger screen and faster charging. So it is quite probable that we will see new health related features with the Series 8, as was the case with the 4 and 6 models.
Apple has certainly distinguished itself as a healthcare provider with its Apple Watch in recent years, the question of which new health sensors await us in Apple Watch Series 8?
Blood sugar sensor
Apple has been researching non-invasive blood sugar measurement for years. Currently, we are not aware of any available wearable on the market that does not invasively measure blood sugar (via a pin prick). There are some startup that claim to be able to measure blood sugar without taking a blood sample, and even offer functioning prototypes. For example Japanese startup Quantum Operations claims it can monitor blood sugar without requiring a blood sample, while Dexcom's G6 uses a small sensor under the skin to measure blood sugar.
Apple has been working with supplier Rockley for some time and Rockley announced in the summer of 2021 that it will start to distribute biosensors for measuring various biomarkers in the second half of 2022.
Apple won't be the only one to offer this technology. According to Rockley, the developer has been able to win five largest wearables manufacturers as its customers, which means that the company has convinced not only Apple, but Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei with its technology.
The company also has a relationship with the Mount Sinai Clinic in New York, which intends to use Rockley Photonics products for monitoring patients. This indicates that there are already prototypes that can be used in the Mount Sinai study.
But even with an optimistic calculation, this technology looks unlikely to make it into Apple Watch Series 8. More realistic would be the Apple Watch Series 9 in 2023.
Bloomberg's well-informed journalists claimed back in the summer of 2021 that Apple wants to install a temperature sensor in the Apple Watch 8. This seems much more plausible than blood sugar monitoring because there are already devices on the market that allow continuous temperature measurement (Fitbit Sense and Oura-Ring, for example).
But the temperature measurement of the current wearables has its disadvantages: on the one hand, the extremity temperature is dependent on how you are wearing it, deviates from the body temperature and fluctuates significantly during the day. In addition, existing devices only measure the deviations from a so-called basic temperature, which is recorded a few days previously. Due to this it's not possible to compare it to a commercially available thermometer.
However, the temperature sensor in the upcoming Apple Watch appears more realistic than all other reported innovations. Should this new feature arrive Apple will have added an additional health sensor again, which will be a buying incentive for the next generation. On the other hand, the technology is not as utopian as the non-invasive blood sugar sensor.
The biggest question with the upcoming Apple Watch is the design. Renders from last spring and summer had shown a new look for the Apple Watch with straighter edges that had aroused a lot of excitement. But contrary to expectations, the new watch had even rounder edges than before.
There were some suggestions that Apple had been forced to make some last minute changes to its plans when it had manufacturing issues with the new design. Read: Why Apple Watch 7 didn't match the leaks: Prosser's conspiracy theory. That's left some of us hoping that the Series 8 could adopt the design changes that were rumoured for the Series 7. However, there are leaks that indicate that the upcoming Apple Watch design will not differ from Series 7.
Unfortunately these rumours are probably true: Apple tends to stick to a design for several generations before changing it, and the Series 7 did get a design change (a slightly larger screen) even if it wasn't the change people were hoping for.
In addition, this rumoured design would be change for the sake of change - it is not clear which problems a flat sided version of the watch would solve. Indeed, it may make it less comfortable to wear.
Even if the design remains the same you can still expect changes though. Well-informed display expert Ross Young has predicted that Apple is planning a third display size for its watch. The watch can hardly get smaller, so bigger is more likely. Perhaps a Special Edition Watch Series 8 with a display size of 49mm.
This larger size would have further implications: Apple would be able to place a larger battery in it, for example. Apple has improved battery and above all battery management in recent generations of Apple Watch, but the manufacturer has invested these additional energy resources elsewhere: the always-on display, blood oxygen measurement at night, noise detection, etc.
It is quite likely that Apple is working on the efficiency of the battery and the processors for the next generation of the watch. Together with a larger battery in the largest Apple Watch, this could be enough for an extreme or special model that has been reported for a long time and is intended to appeal to athletes with its longer battery life and robustness.
Alongside the new hardware we can expect to see watchOS 9 software alongside the next generation of Watch. Above all we hope for an easier update procedure, possibly disconnected from the iPhone. Because even after seven generations of the watch, you still have to download the update to a paired iPhone, place the watch on the charging disc and only after the battery is 50 percent charged will the smartphone transfer the new operating system version to the watch. This is very cumbersome because linked to several conditions and happens slowly.
In watchOS 9 we want real over-the-air updates of watchOS 9 directly to the Watch, all right, we'll still need to connect to the charging disc, but without additional download to the iPhone.
This is part of a series of articles about what to expect from Apple in 2022:
This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by Karen Haslam.