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Apple March event ‘to be pushed back by a week’

The Apple Watch has been on sale for almost a year, which means the rumour mill has started churning out rumours regarding the upcoming Apple Watch 2. We discuss the latest Apple Watch 2 rumours including its UK release date and possible features, and explain why we think the Apple Watch 2 needs an ARM Cortex A32 processor

When Apple announced its much-anticipated Apple Watch back in September 2014, people got very excited about the concept of an Apple-designed smartwatch. Fast forward to today, the Apple Watch has been on sale for quite some time and with 2016 drawing ever closer, people are starting to think about the next-generation Apple Watch, the Apple Watch 2.

When will the Apple Watch 2 launch, and what new features can we expect? In this article, we round up all the rumours we’ve heard regarding the yet-unannounced Apple Watch 2. Also, we list the features and tech specs we’re hoping Apple will include in the second Apple Watch – particularly an ARM Cortex A32 processor – and why they’re essential to improving users’ experience.

Apple Watch 2 UK release date rumours: When will the Apple Watch 2 be announced?

Though there is no solid release date for the second-generation Apple Watch 2, we expect it to be announced in March 2016 with an April 2016 launch, as Apple follows a yearly cycle with many of its devices – for the past few years iPhones have always been announced in September, etc.

It’s looking like this prediction might come true; according to reports, Apple will hold its next event in March 2016, at which it will unveil the Apple Watch 2, alongside the rumoured iPhone 6c and the iPad Air 3. A 9to5Mac report suggests that the Apple Watch will appear at that event but that it won’t ship until April, a year after the first Apple Watch went on sale.

However, one analyst claimed prior to the March event rumours that we may be seeing an Apple Watch a bit later on in the year – possibly not until May, June or even later in 2016.

Another rumour regarding the release date of the Apple Watch 2 comes from China – more specifically, the chairman of Quanta, Barry Lam. Quanta manufactured the first-generation Apple Watch, and we expect it’ll also be the manufacturer of the second-generation device, so when the chairman announced a general release date window at an investors meeting, people paid attention.

According to reports, Lam claims that we’ll be seeing limited stock of the Apple Watch 2 near the end of Q2 2016, with more stock becoming available in Q3 2016. Based on this, it looks like the Apple Watch 2 will have a possible June 2016 release date, which falls in line with the analyst claims above.

Following that, GforGames reported that Quanta, the company widely believed to be the manufacturer of the unannounced second generation smartwatch, is set to enter trial production at some point in January. If all goes well with the trial production, it gives both Apple and Quanta enough time to prepare the gadget for its unveiling, which GforGames reports will be “sometime in April”.

According to reports, there was to be an event on 15 March 2016 where Apple would announce the iPhone 5se and iPad Air, along with new bands for the Apple Watch (possibly new colours/materials, but may also include Hermes-esque bands) and yet-unannounced OS tweaks coming in the watchOS 2.2 update. The report also claimed that Apple is looking at a September 2016 release for the second generation Apple Watch, although this has yet to be confirmed.

So, what can we look forward to at the March announcement? A source has spokento 9to5Mac claiming that the update will include a handful of new colours for the Sports Bands (although it isn’t specified which colours) along with additional colours of Apple’s latest collection, the Hemes bands, but again, with no mention of colours.

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Image via 9to5Mac

The source did mention that a black version of the Milanese Loop will make an appearance at the event, which is a personal favourite of ours (we’ve got a third-party black band similar to the Milanese Loop) and should bring a bit of class to the Apple Watch Sport. However, possibly most exciting of all, the source claimed that Apple is planning to launch an additional band line, made out of a completely new material. Could it be the smart bands we discuss below? It seems we may not have too long to find out!

Buzzfeed sources also claim that the event will be smaller than Apple’s September event where it announced a flurry of products including the iPhone 6s, Apple TV and iPad Pro. In fact, the sources seem to believe that it’ll be happening at Apple’s own Town Hall in Cupertino – a favourite of Apple’s with smaller announcements. More information about the March event can be found here.

Although it seemed like the 15 March event was set in stone, the latest Apple rumours suggest otherwise. While for a couple of months it has been believed that Apple will host an event on Tuesday 15 March 2016, AppleInsiderclaims it’ll be a little later – a week later, in fact. Sourcing South Koren website UnderKG, it’s claimed that the Apple March event has been pushed back by one week and will now take place on Tuesday 22 March 2016. While UnderKG doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to leaks, the website did get its hands on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus before they were announced by Apple so they do have a level of credibility.

Apple Watch 2 rumours: Design and build

We’ve got an idea of when to expect the Apple Watch 2, then. But what will it look like?

Apple Watch 2 design rumours: New design(s)

Apple is said to be exploring more variations of the Apple Watch, beyond the Sports, Steel and Edition tiers available with the first-gen Apple Watch. It’s said that the company is planning to introduce new models that should sit between the most expensive steel Apple Watch (£949) and the cheapest Apple Watch Edition (£8,000).

The gap between the top of the middle price band and the bottom of the top price band has always looked rather wide, and Apple seems to be looking to attract customers willing to pay between £1,000 and £8,000 for an Apple Watch: which is potentially quite a lot of people.

However, it’s unsure as to how the new tiers will differ from current models. It’s been suggested that the new tier could feature more advanced bands or new materials including tungsten, palladium, titanium or even platinum.

Apple Watch 2 design rumours: Multi-function bands

Along with updating the body of the Apple Watch in its second-generation device, it looks like Apple may be introducing a new multi-function band alongside it. As firstspotted by AppleInsider, Apple recently filed an interesting patent by the name of “Magnetic Wristband”, and details a magnetic wristband for the Apple Watch that offers additional functionality.

According to the patent, the magnetic wristband will, obviously, 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.

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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.

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Apple Watch 2 rumours: Features and spec

That’s what we think the next Apple Watch will look like. But we’ll talk next about theinside of the Apple Watch 2: what changes can we expect to its tech specs, and what new features will it offer?

Apple Watch 2 rumours: Why the Apple Watch 2 needs an ARM Cortex A32 processor

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 2.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 0.25×0.25 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.

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Apple Watch 2 rumours: FaceTime camera

According to sources, Apple is planning to add a FaceTime video camera to the second-generation Apple Watch, which will enable users to make and receive FaceTime calls via their wrists. The new FaceTime camera is said to be integrated into the top bezel of the Apple Watch 2, though we’re not too sure how many people would actively FaceTime via a Watch.

Apple is already working on using the Apple Watch for FaceTime, as the recently released watchOS 2 brings support for FaceTime audio calls. Does that indicate that it’ll soon move onto video calls?

9To5Mac does note, though, that Apple trials many prototypes of its products before settling on the final one, so the FaceTime camera might not make it into the final model that makes its way into stores.

Most recently, in January 2016, reports have surfaced claiming that the upcoming Apple Watch 2 may feature the much-rumoured front-facing FaceTime camera, but not much else. As first noted by Tech Crunch, citing several sources, it appears that the Apple Watch 2 may not be a complete redesign with major changes to its design and features, and may be more of an ‘S’ update similar to the iPhone refresh cycle. It’s also claimed that Apple is still unsure of the Apple Watch refresh cycle, as its more of a companion for your smartphone rather than a standalone device (for now, anyway).

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