Apple Watch 2 investigation: What's coming in the next version

Apple Watch 2 investigation: What's coming in the next version

Update: We speak to those in the know and round up the best rumours
Apple Watch 2 uncovered

The Apple Watch 2 rumour mill is bubbling away nicely and you can be sure that in a secret design lab somewhere in Cupertino, the next Apple Watch sits safely under lock and key.

Some reports suggested a next-gen Apple Watch could be announced at the company's March 2016 event but, wearable-wise, all that threw up was a price drop and a bunch of new bands.

If you were Tim Cook for a day, what would you demand from the next incarnation of the Apple Watch?

Essential reading: watchOS 3 guide

That's the question we posed to a line-up of CEOs, designers, business insiders and industry analysts. Here is the insider wish list for Watch 2.0 together with the latest Apple Watch 2 rumours circulating on the web.

Apple Watch 2: Battery life

Okay, so the Watch 1 makes it through the day, but one of the reasons that Apple had to drop some of the hyped functionality of the original was because they knew it didn't have the juice for it.

Almost everyone we questioned wanted a more robust battery this time around and Daniel Matte, who leads wearables research at Canalys, says that processor tech could yield the biggest gains. Warning: things are about to get really techy.

"It would be great if Apple could utilise Samsung Foundry's 14FF process to manufacture the chipsets in the Apple Watch 2," he said.

"It's already using them in the iPhone, and it would provide major benefits for energy efficiency, which would impact performance and battery life."

The current Apple Watch uses an S1 chip that uses 28nm architecture. The bigger the nanometer size, more power it requires, so Samsung's 14nm could really make an impact.

However, there's not going to be a sudden answer to the battery life question. Even the benefit of 14nm processors will be measured in hours not days. The best we can hope for is an always-on screen that lasts a whole day. A week or month of battery life is not on the horizon.

The rumour mill agrees, suggesting that instead of drastically improving battery life, Apple will add new features while making sure the Watch gets to the end of one day of use. This is the approach it took with iPads.

Apple Watch 2: Design

"First of all, I believe that no one should have to buy a new watch in just one year, so Tim Cook should thank those who supported the watch, with a free upgrade. It's the least Apple could do," said Daniel Will-Harris (above), a watch designer who sells his timepieces through New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim.

He may also be a hopeless tech romantic if he believes Apple will dish out free upgrades.

The multi-talented industrial designer also believes that Apple should refresh its colour palette too. "It needs to lose the garish, childish hues we've had to endure since iOS 7 and use a selection of colour themes ranging from tasteful to playful."

Of course, some of the fallout from the first-gen Watch was that it didn't look, well, Apple, enough. "The first Watch was all about branding, Apple wanted it to look different so people would know you were wearing one, but it was kind of homely and looked like a science project from the 90s," argued Will-Harris.

I'd like to see improvements in the original's typography too, with its sloppy, amateurish kerning

"I want them to actually want it to look beautiful. And, yes, the whole digital crown thing was complicated, unnecessary and dirt catching, like the Apple Mouse scroll ball that always stopped working. I'd like to see improvements in the original's typography too, with its sloppy, amateurish kerning."

Kerning? That's the spacing of the numbers on the face.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the casing for Will-Harris:

"It needs to be circular because this is the perfect representation for time, because it repeats anew every day. From the first sundials to the phases of the moon, time has always been circular." Will-Harris cites Marc Newsom's Ikepod watches as a reference point.

Are you listening, Sir Jony?

As for web rumours around design, 9to5mac is reporting that new materials will be added to the Apple Watch line-up such as titanium, tungsten, palladium and platinum.

These would sit between the most expensive stainless steel Watch and the Watch Edition and cost $1,000+ which sounds like a move Apple would make.

Apple Watch 2: Display

"The original watch failed where Apple normally excels, in the deep integration of hardware and software," said digital designer Clemens Weisshaar, who recently collaborated with Audi working with LG on the Watch Urbane LTE.

"You never feel like you can make it yours, which is, in theory, the whole promise of replacing a clock face with a screen and because Apple didn't let designers take over the screen real estate, it felt like the opposite of a 21st century product."

WatchOS 2 has begun to address this with time-lapse videos and personalised Live Photos and albums, so that every time you look at your watch there's a new image waiting for you.

However, Weisshaar believes there is not enough access to the look and feel of the software and wants that to change with 2.0. Daniel Will-Harris agrees: "Just as Android has from the start, they need to open the time telling feature to all the watch designers of the world."

Apple Watch 2: Native apps

"Typically processor upgrades are not a huge deal to me, but because the Apple Watch is so focussed on quick in-and-out interactions, snappier apps could really improve the user experience," says Jeremy Olson, founder and lead designer at Tapity, an Apple Design Award-winning app company.

Most devs' dreams were answered with the news that watchOS 2 would support native apps, running directly on the Watch. While the big change for many in watchOS 2 is more useful apps, it should deliver a performance upgrade too.

Now developers will be able to build apps that run directly on the Apple Watch and this, Olson believes, will make the next offering seriously speedier than its predecessor.

Apple Watch 2: Siri

Hey, Siri. Are you going to get any better with the next release? OS 2 has certainly given the AI genie a boost so that it can manage Glances, HomeKit and Maps, as well as providing direct access to workouts. However, Olson also wants it to be more responsive. "I would love to see Siri get a speed boost," he said.

"Which would probably involve internet connectivity and processor improvements. To me, Siri is much more useful on the watch than on the iPhone because it's always right there on your wrist and you can use it hands free by just saying, 'hey, Siri'."

"If this feature was faster and more accurate, I would use Siri on my Apple Watch all the time to set reminders, add notes, text my wife, and do loads of other things on the go," he concluded.

Apple Watch 2: Health sensors

There's been a lot of chatter about the sensors that Apple weren't able to include in the first outing. However, most of the industry insiders we spoke to believed that, because of the space constraints of wearables, we're still a while away from a miniature medical tricorder.

However, Daniel Matte added: "I know many people ask about non-invasive glucose monitoring, but even though Apple has researched this area with great interest, it's extremely unlikely that there will be any viable solutions in the next few years. Any advancement would certainly be a real breakthrough if so."

Apple is also jumping deeper in the health rabbit hole with the release of CareKit, however. A follow up to last year's ResearchKit, CareKit is an open source platform that will allow developers to create health care apps.

The first one showcased at the Cupertino event was made focuses on Parkinson's disease. Another app can be used for people during post-surgery as a means to monitor their recovery.

Other features include tracking medications, physical therapy exercises, recording symptoms like monitoring temperature and photographing wounds to note progression.

Apple Watch 2: GPS

Calibrating the watch through the iPhone's GPS so that it stops misinterpreting distance data needs to be a thing of the past.

"Adding GPS would be a logical addition," said George Jijiashvili, an analyst for CCS Insight, who specialises in wearable technology. "Being able to track your runs and listen to music via Bluetooth headphones without the need to carry your iPhone would certainly appeal to an 'active' segment of consumers and raise the Watch's overall utility."

However, Jijiashvili might be disappointed. The latest reports are saying that the Apple Watch 2 will not feature GPS, but instead will include a new Wi-Fi chip that can be used to track Apple Watch devices using Wi-Fi router triangulation tech. That means more independence from the iPhone too.

Apple Watch 2: Waterproofing

Our experts were unanimous that v2.0 shouldn't be scared of the water.

"Waterproof it, Apple, please," pleads Bernard Desernauts, CEO of Wristly, the largest independent Apple Watch research platform.

"I'd like to not be afraid to have it on my wrist at the beach or on a boat." In fact, in response to a question put out to Wristly's 'Inner Circle' of Watch owners, waterproofing was found to be the second most wanted attribute of the next Watch. Almost 80% of respondents wished it was more than IPX7 rated, which only covers it up to a depth of 1m.

Apple Watch 2: Untethered

We never thought we'd ever liken the iPhone to a ball and chain, but that's exactly what it feels like sometimes with the Apple Watch. This is why this came out top in Wristly's poll.

"It's important to add to the Wi-Fi capabilities of smartwatches," believes Daniel Matte. "The wireless stacks of both Android Wear and watchOS will be improving over the next year so that users will have connectivity when they're not near their smartphone."

Apple Watch 2: Integration

The Apple Watch is clearly an IoT product: if you have one on your wrist, you might be able to control the lights in your house, or use Apple Pay to travel home on the Tube. Of course, watchOS 2 brought HomeKit into play too, but wearables expert Ramon Llamas, who authored an influential report into the launch of the original, wants more:

"Consider these examples: your Watch senses that you are too cold and sends a message to your Nest thermostat to warm up the room in time for your return. Or, you're coming back from a bike ride, and your Watch sends a message to turn on the lights at your house and open up the garage door."

Bernard Desarnauts goes one further. "When I buy another Watch I'd like it to mean that I could leave my wallet at home and that I'd never have to look for my car or house keys again. It should be able to control my garage door and then seamlessly turn on the lights as I walk in my house, before becoming the remote control for all my domestic media entertainment."

Apple Watch 2: FaceTime camera

"The reason I loved the concept of the Watch in the first place was because it was tomorrow's world, today," reveals Daniel Thomas, a UX designer, who has previously collaborated with Apple.

"I loved the idea of all the tilt-based interactions. The Philips Hue app and Apple Pay. Sending sketches and heartbeats is all well and good, but the thrill quickly wore off for me because there was no real benefit. That would change with FaceTime. If I'm in the future I should be able to videoconference from my wrist. The next Watch has got to have a front-facing HD camera."

According to 9to5mac, the FaceTime camera might be pushed back to a later model than the Apple Watch 2 but it's definitely on the cards. At WWDC this year, Apple indicated its interest in increasing FaceTime functionality – making and receiving video calls from the wrist – so it seems pretty likely.

Apple Watch 2: Smartbands

There has been much written about the infamous 'bottom' strap connector slot that could be used for accessories. Apple loves accessories. So why doesn't it use it as a connector port for a range of all-powerful smartbands? Almost, everyone we spoke to had this on their list of demands to be delivered to the doors of 1 Infinite Loop. "Smartbands would need to be swappable, so that they're capable of new features and functionalities that you may not need all of the time," said Lamas.

"From health and fitness to a more complex haptic notification system."

Daniel Will Harris has some other ideas: "First, they contain a long, flexible battery that can power the Watch for days. Next, they contain an antenna to ensure a clear connection for voice and data. And the spec needs to be open source too, so anyone can build a compatible band."

Apple Watch 42mm
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Apple Watch 2: Release date

And so, down to business. When do the assorted sages want to see the second coming? They all agree that it has to be a point on the calendar where the current user base of Watch and Watch Sport users don't feel like they've been shortchanged and the exclusivity of Watch Edition hasn't been tarnished.

"This will also buy Apple time to further develop its application ecosystem, particularly those running natively on the Watch," believes Llamas.

All experts agree we're looking at 2016, but when are they marking crosses on the Cupertino calendar?

"I think it makes sense for a third quarter release. That way, Apple can capitalise on the seasonality of the fourth quarter and align the release with other products like the iPhone and iPad," adds Llamas. "Any later, and Apple could lose attention to others."

Elsewhere, China's United Daily News reports that the Apple Watch will launch late in Q2, around June 2016. Barry Lam, chairman of Quanta, an Apple supplier said: "Quanta and Apple are currently developing the second-generation of the Apple Watch, expected late next year in the second quarter."


  • tbeauford says:

    The apple watch looks 1000% better than nearly all of the smart watches out there, especially the ones that are primarily focused on fitness.

    • Kacierae says:

      Very true! I like my Apple Watch and I don't think it's ugly. They could definitely make it more stylish, but it is one of the most attractive a sleek designed wearable that functions well as a fitness tracker and serves many other purposes. I had a Fitbit Surge for about a week, before getting my Apple Watch, it was clunky and very ugly! I did not regret returning it and spending just $100 more for the Apple Watch.

  • mrla says:

    i have really enjoyed upswing my apple watch I don't thinkninwould change the much it's still the best thing out there 

  • troyangrignon says:

    Great summary.

  • pvogel says:

    Needs to alert when the phone is out of proximity like the Pebble does, that's saved me from leaving my phone behind in some very inconvenient places many times.

    • daisy says:

      it dose it shows a red pone one the top 

      • junmack says:

        It would be nice if it did the haptic tap to let you know you're out of range. I'm not always looking at my watch to know if I've gone too far. 

    • valit says:

      And the other way around! I lost my Apple Watch and no way to find it or even ping it to see if it's nearby! 

  • suejom66 says:

    I guess the one big question you have to ask is whether the technology is all there yet? And by including one thing are you compromising on another. For example, having GPS will mean that the battery will run out sooner unless the battery technology is improved tenfold. For runners, maybe yes. For me, I have found the Activity and Workout apps work well enough for  me for now.

    I know a lot people like round faces but that's because our brains are trained to believe that a watch should be round. It's only because traditional analogue watches had round pieces working within the watch. Who says a watch has to be round to be attractive? I love my Apple Watch Sport. It works the way I believe it is supposed to work. I don't find myself looking at my phone half as much, and it doesn't bother me that other people can't see the screen. After all, I bought the watch for me, not to show off to other people.

    As far as apps go, I haven't really used any besides the built in Apple ones but from what I hear, many of the apps still need to be simplified in order to be useful.

    I know Apple had to compromise somewhat on sensors, etc, to put this watch out on time. But maybe by the time the second iteration of the watch is released, we will see lots of new improvements. However, if you expect too much, you will more than likely be disappointed. Besides, I don't believe there is any perfect solution to the perfect smart watch. Everyone has different needs and expectations and you can never please everybody. What works well for someone, will more than likely not be to someone else's taste. That's just the way the world is.

    Let's just hope, there are improvements in the whole smart watch world, no matter what the brand!

    • LukeColella says:

      Suejom, would you mind telling me your experience with the apple watch? I know that the new one is coming out soon, but I'm itching to get one soon, and I want to know your overall day to day with the watch and it's functionality. 

      • suejom66 says:

        I've been using it since May last year and have enjoyed it. It's especially good for notifications and while the fitness part of it isn't that exciting, you can use third party apps that will work towards filling your three activity rings. It's also comfortable. I like the Apple Sport but I hear that if you drop it face down on a hard surface, it will more than likely break. Luckily, I haven't done this. Touch wood! Having to charge it every night isn't that big a deal since you are having to charge your phone at the same time anyway, but I do wish it lasted somewhat longer. Overall, I like it. When they first announced it, I was most excited by the medical side of things but that side of it is still pretty limited. Give it another few years though and things might be different. I would recommend the Sport but I don't think I'd want to shell out the big money on the Watch until the specs improve. I hope this helps.

  • xiatianfa says:

    add ant+ connectivity, than you can really connect it to some serious external sensors.

    • suejom66 says:

      I agree. Although, you can still connect it to a bluetooth HR strap. Do you find this inferior to a ANT+ one? Or do you mean bike sensors, etc.?

  • xiatianfa says:

    they should add ant+ connectivity, this would really shake up the fitness wearable world. You could than connect it to multiple sensors at once, and free up the Bluetooth to listen to music.

  • narutoben10af says:

    Front camera should be added as well as speaker improvements so music can be played on the watch without headphones. 

    • yup says:

      music is meant to be played through head phones or in the privacy of your own space. no one needs to listen or hear YOUR music. this is whats wrong with society. 

  • Khushrav says:

    Traditionally, the watch is for keeps or for many years. So while new hardware may come in, the existing one must have the capability to be upgraded - I'm referring to battery, chip, sensors.

    One big feature could be the option to send quick SOS - send location details to one designated number or emergency services. Also, add a flashlight.

    Option to engrave something on the watch side.  More material options - ceramic, silver alloy, platinum.

  • xToddrick says:

    "It needs to be circular because this is the perfect representation for time,..."

    This comment alone shows he's basically clueless as to what a smartwatch does.

  • aksingh96 says:

    it gonna be a blast 

  • Bijaya says:

    This is the best model that's what I'm waiting for... love......this ROUND MODEl awasome. ... as soon as it release I'm moving to Apple from samsung 

  • LGA says:

    I have decided to buy an Apple watch soon, but after reading about the Apple watch 2 on here I am going to wait for it!  But hurry please, I need a new watch and this is the one I have to have.  Sounds awesome!

  • Jonathanw09 says:

    Looking forward to a XL screen 46x46

  • HSD says:

    I've been looking into the apple watch, it's not yet on the list. still waiting for the 2nd version. This post has some really good insights on what to people are expecting. I hope apple reads this. But In my personal opinion, I always like to think apple likes to sell for the next 10 years as usual. so i'm not so expecting a change in shape for apple watch yet, probably more designs but i think they'll go like the iPhone, apple watch s, 2, 2s, 3 and so on. Technology is moving faster than we would expect, but I always remember one of Jobs's interviews when he said he had the iPad project before iPhone and he put it on the shelves. so yeah I'm expecting a spectacular watch from apple with more greater features. but I'm not expecting MAJOR changes in watch2, still gotta bring out the S version of every apple product!

  • Durf says:

    The ONLY reason I didn't buy the first Apple Watch was because it was not waterproof. If the 2nd version isn't at least as waterproof as my $90 Casio G-Shock watch, I ain't going to buy it the 2nd time around either.

    • TXDave says:

      I agree, If they make this one waterproof to 10Meters like my Casio has been for eons, I'll buy one.  If not, No way I'm buying, period.

      • LukeColella says:

        I was told by an Apple rep at the Apple store that it is water resistant, is that not what you guys feel is enough?

  • alextj89 says:

    It would be neat if Apple Watch would operate like the Gear S watch were it can work without a phone near by with the use of using a cellphone network.  That way you can leave your cell phone locked in your hotel room or somewhere safe.  You can make and receive calls without having a phone near by, answer texts and so much more. 

    • Boot1014 says:

      I agree this is the reason I didn't purchase. Makes no sense to have the watch and the phone. Samsung has stepped up greatly in having flexibility with having the watch.  Add this plus water resistant that would be awesome. Keep the same design concept I like the square. Color schemes I really dig.  

  • Mars says:

    I trailed the Apple Watch on release & I must admit I liked much of the functionality of it...however compared to many other smartwatches available it failed on a few fronts. Primarily on price, it was/is absurd & it's no wonder the device hasn't sold as well as it should've. It's far more expensive then it needed to be, particularly the stainless steel watch variants because Apple just can't compete in the same price bracket with traditional watch makers on the quality of materials & design front...Secondly the size of the watch screen. If Apple wants a squarish watch face then make it a big one, so as to allow the time apps to be easily readable. If the watch body was circular it would still need to be a minimum 45mm diameter to provide better touch screen real estate....but in its current form the watch apps on even the 42mm watch are too small because the width doesn't allow for a decent viewing substraight...

    Price to high, watchface too small...longevity is questionable. if Apple addresses these issues amongst the other shortcomings with the next incarnation of the Apple Watch I'll be more likely to consider it as a viable watch and indulge with a purchase...

  • daniellamontero says:

    Apple watch is now on sale only on BestSmartwatchOffers:com

  • AppleRepairShop says:

    Smartbands are where it's at... Limitless potential.

  • raisamatthews21 says:

    Apple watch is now on sale only on BestSmartwatchOffers:com

  • NotReady---Yet says:

    Apple Watch is cool, but not what I want.

    I want a watch where the display wraps around my arm - think flexible OLED. The battery should be in the wrist band as well to make it run longer. We can let go of the model from 200 years ago with a watch and band now that we have the technology to do this differently.

  • MrBillData says:

    Why has no one, even Apple, thought to make a flexible battery watch band? It seems like a perfectly simple answer to the battery life problem. I work it out that a 1.4mm by 5mm strip 8cm long would provide approximately 16 times the current battery life.

  • Gummybear says:

    I make my battery on the I watch last for two days by switching to power reserve in the evening.

    But a longer battery life would be better.

  • nissan1 says:

    would like to have golf course info distance to holes etc incorporated in apple watch with opts it has now with golf info it would be more complete

    • MatthewLeeHood says:

      you can get Apps for that! GolfShot is a brilliant example

  • Sccrvetttel82 says:

    the big problem for Apple is that the iPhone can't handle Bluetooth headsets, Bluetooth watch, and wifi at the same time. Wifi slows to nearly .01Mbps with all three in use it the headset cuts out. If Apple plans to eliminate the audio jack in favor of Bluetooth headphones, the watch or phone will be useless.

  • theresalobo says:

    Grab a smartwatch at a discounted price only at SmartwatchOffers:com

  • Pinksteel says:

    If only the new watch would incorporate golf course GPS so that it would replace the golf watch Gps.  I tried downloading a gps to my Apple Watch 1 but it wasn't user friendly as it wouldn't stay on the app constantly.  I returned the 1st watch in hopes the next edition will be more user friendly.  Will buy the 2nd one regardless...loved the watch!

  • somniumus says:

    Who cares what Daniel Will-Harris thinks of apple design? It's like a garage hobbyist advising NASA.

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