We’re fast approaching the‘s first anniversary, and the current rumors are driving wild theories about what Apple has planned for the next generation — and when we might see it.
Apple previewed the next generation of its wearable operating system, WatchOS 4, at itsin June. And in the process, the company dropped some about what’s to come with the future of the Apple Watch.
At the moment, however, the big question looming over Cupertino concerns the iPhone 8 — specifically, during its usual early September timeframe. , that is looking increasingly unlikely.
The timing of the iPhone 8 launch will certainly impact Apple’s rollout of the next Watch. And right now, all of that is way, way up in the air.
As we count down the days until the inevitable big introduction, we’ll continue to assemble the most significant Apple Watch 3 rumors below.
Apple Watch 3 specs we might see
- Standalone LTE connectivity via SIM card
- FaceTime camera
- Micro-LED display
- Glass-film touch technology
- Slimmer, more lightweight design
- Water resistance
- Confirmed: WatchOS 4 operating system ( )
- Sleep tracking
- Glucose monitoring
- Respiration sensors
- Integrated power meter
- Smart bands
- Improved and/or faster “wireless” (aka inductive) charging
- Starting price around $349, £349 or AU$499
Announcement and release dates
The Apple Watch hasn’t been around long enough to have established much of a track record for launch timing. Theappeared in April 2015; the second generation, which included the and , debuted in September of 2016.
It’s conceivable that Apple could bring out the next Watch this fall, but right now it’s pretty unclear. And a product introduction could come in a number of forms ranging from a major redesign to a minor, iterative upgrade. Plenty of other manufacturers will launch wearables during the second half of 2017, and it would be odd if Apple didn’t throw something new into the mix.
One major factor potentially impacting the timeline: the next iPhone. Apple usually unveils its new flagship during the first week or two of September. This year, however, supply chain sources are warning that the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, expected to be based closely on the current generation, are facing serious production challenges. A recent Fast Company report described a “sense of panic” at Apple about missing the September deadline. Apple didn’t respond to .
Panic or no, the fact is that the iPhone accounts for at least two-thirds of Apple’s revenues, so it’s definitely the company’s prime focus. Whether or not it has the bandwidth to simultaneously develop a new Apple Watch alongside a new iPhone line remains to be seen. But hitting the fourth quarter holiday buying season with a new Watch would certainly be preferable compared to an early 2018 debut.
We learned quite a bit from Apple’sof the next version of its wearable operating system at in June. Highlights include a new Siri watch face that provides a feed of contextual notifications; new branded watch faces (but no dedicated Watch Face store); a more capable Music app; workout and fitness enhancements; and Bluetooth connectivity for sports and health gear. All of these features sound great, but we suspect that Apple excluded the most exciting upgrades from this early look.
An Apple Watch alternative to the iPhone?
One rumored blockbuster upgrade is a cellular modem, which would enable calling and texting from the Watch without the need for an iPhone. In March, Barron’s published an article citing a semiconductor analyst’s research on the topic; he claims that the next Apple Watch will come equipped with a SIM card and support for LTE.
A cellular connection would catapult the Apple Watch 3 into a different category. But we’ll note that there was was some chatter about this feature coming to the Apple Watch 2 — reportedly, Apple could not solve the battery drain problems in time — and we think this one is among the least likely rumors to actually pan out.
FaceTime from your wrist
Since the run up to the second edition of the Watch, there has been (hopeful) speculation about a camera. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has considered building a camera into the Watch’s top bezel, making it the smallest device capable of running FaceTime.
Aside from giving the Apple Watch yet another competitive advantage in the market, this feature would finally fulfill the decades-old promise of George Jetson’s watch.
Watch face upgrade
There are a few changes potentially coming to the Apple Watch’s display. One is a shift from the Apple Watch 2’s OLED display to Micro LED — a brighter and more efficient variation of the technology. Nikkei Asian Review has reported that Apple is piloting Micro LED technology for wearables, though it’s unlikely that the new panels would find their way into a final product until 2018. And DigiTimes has reported that Apple will move to glass-firm touch panels for the third edition of the Watch, leaving behind the touch-on-lens panels onboard the Apple Watch 2.
New health and fitness features
We know that the next version of watchOS will offer a slew of new features on this front, but there are also some potential hardware-based upgrades said to be coming. CNBC has reported that CEO Tim Cook has been testing a blood sugar tracker paired to his Apple Watch, and that the company has dedicated a team to develop a .
BGR has also reported that Apple is exploring glucose monitoring capabilities for the next version of the Watch — and that Apple plans to introduce interchangeable “smart watch bands.” These bands could support the glucose monitoring feature as well as other capabilities such as a FaceTime camera or perhaps extra battery capacity.
And BikeRadar reports that Apple has filed a patent for a device to use wind resistance to measure power. The device described in the application calculates estimated power output — that is, how hard you’re pedaling — using your speed, wind speed and road gradient in addition to your heart rate.
The original Apple Watch started at $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm edition in the US. In March 2016, the company slashed prices by $50, dropping the entry-level price to $299. Today, the Watch Series 1 starts at $269 (38mm) and $299 (42mm) and the Watch Series 2 at $369 (38mm) and $399 (42mm). Barring a bombshell redesign, featuring cellular connectivity or an integrated camera, the consensus is that Apple will stick pretty close to the current pricing scheme with the Watch 3.