The Apple Watch was one of the most high-profile gadget launches of 2015, but after almost a year after it first went on sale across the world, thoughts are turning towards what Apple might be planning as an encore.
At times the Apple Watch felt very much like a first-generation device – one that the company was still working out the kinks from – and already we’re hearing a few rumours about what the next generation edition might have in store.
Here’s everything we think we know up to this point.
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As you might expect, there’s been no official word from Apple about a potential Apple Watch 2. Not that that stops us from speculating, of course…
What is the Apple Watch 2?
As the name suggests, it’s the follow-up to this year’s original Apple Watch, duh…
Although we’re not sure if Apple will bother added the numeral to the end – it does with its iPhones but doesn’t with other devices like the Apple TV.
Recent rumours are suggesting this will be the Apple Watch S, an incremental update, rather than a brand new, redesigned Apple Watch 2.
Of course, there’s the software upgrade route too, and Apple has already pushed out several Watch OS updates to users as well as making more comprehensive tools available to developers.
When will we see it?
We’re also not sure whether Apple wants to push out a new version of the smartwatch as early as 2016, which would follow the strategy it uses for its phones and tablets – do people want to upgrade their watch every year?
Early rumours suggested Apple would wait until September 2016 to bring out the second edition. But current thought, thanks to a few hints from suppliers, is that we’ll see the Apple Watch S in March, exactly a year after it was first released.
It may be announced alongside the iPhone 7 Mini.
What do we think we know about it?
Most of what we think we know about the Apple Watch 2 has come from9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman: his predictions are usually on the money so it’s worth paying attention to what he has to say.
– Gurman thinks a FaceTime video camera will be one of the Watch 2’s upgrades, enabling you to make video and audio calls right from your wrist.
There’s also talk of improved Wi-Fi capabilities for the Apple Watch 2, reducing its dependency on the iPhone and meaning you could download iMessage texts, emails and other types of content straight from the web without having to go through a connected handset first.
– Apple will apparently introduce a new Find My Watch feature as well, though it will use Wi-Fi triangulation rather than GPS to locate your wearable.
– Gurman says Apple will be “keeping, or slightly improving” the wearable’s battery life with the next edition – apparently the company has done some market research and found that most people are happy having to charge their watches every night.
If you think differently, don’t hold your breath for any huge battery life improvements in the near future, although one report says the screen is going to be a little thinner to make room for a slightly larger battery.
– Surely Apple Watch 2 would also include a new version of the watch OS software – probably WatchOS 3.
Why it’s likely to happen
As massively successful as Apple is, the company is still under pressure from its shareholders to stay on the top of its game – and that makes a swift follow-up to the 2015 Apple Watch more likely.
If it becomes clear that only a small percentage of iPhone owners have invested in a matching smartwatch then Apple might use a 2.0 release next year to tempt more of those users into a purchase.
In other words, an Apple Watch 2 launch might snag some of the people who are sat on the fence about the new device, while potentially upsetting Apple fans who’ve already shelled out £8,000 or more on a wearable that has very quickly gone out of date.
Interestingly, 9to5Mac says new editions at different price points are also being mooted to appeal to as many people as possible.
A new launch around a year after the first one is Apple’s best chance of pulling in more buyers, though existing users are unlikely to upgrade after such a short timeframe.
Why it’s not likely to happen
It seems a safe bet than Apple will eventually release a Watch 2, because even if sales of the first one turn out to be uninspiring, they won’t give up after a single attempt.
The question is, when will the next one appear? We’ve already mentioned that users are unlikely to start upgrading their watches as often as their phones, and that may delay a new device.
Now that the much improved WatchOS 2 has arrived, developers can take advantage of the Taptic Engine, Digital Crown, accelerometer, heart rate sensor, speaker and microphone. More app code can run on the watch itself, improving response times, and there are new watch faces too: all of this might be enough of an upgrade for existing users for Apple to push back a new hardware launch.
What makes Apple’s intentions so hard to predict is the fact that this is a completely new product category – we’re still not really sure how users are taking to smartwatches or how often they want to upgrade them (LG has been busiest when it comes to pushing out Android Wear watches, but they’re not strictly speaking upgrades).