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Apple Watch 2 could feature FaceTime camera, but not much else

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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 we’re hoping Apple will include in the second Apple Watch, and why they would improve 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.

Most recently though, 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”.

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).

It’s looking to attract customers willing to pay between £1,000 and £8,000 for an Apple Watch, 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 first spotted 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 its been designed to roll up behind the Watch, propping it up.

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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).

Apple Watch 2 rumours: Variety of health sensors

In an interview with The Telegraph, Tim Cook hinted that the company may make a medically approved device, but it wouldn’t be the Apple watch. Cook explained that the disruption that FDA accreditation would cause to the product release cycle, which ultimately put him off having the Apple Watch vetted for full-blown health use. Although with this being said, it hasn’t completely put him off the idea of building a product for use in the medical world:

“We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it—maybe an app, maybe something else.”

Ahead of its official launch, there was a lot of talk regarding the Apple’s wearable and specifically, that it’d be loaded with health sensors. So far that’s not proven to be the case, with heart-rate and activity tracking offering a standard level of fitness tracking, but nothing more. Even though Cook has stated that it’d be a different device, is this just a way of throwing us off the scent of the upcoming Apple Watch 2? It looks like it could come with a full suite of health sensors, which is something we’d welcome.

Following the interview, a number of Apple job listings have come to light and with them, a look at what Apple may be currently working on. In December 2015 and January 2016, Apple posted two listings looking for biomedical engineers with a background in “medical, health, wellness and/or fitness sensors, devices and applications”. Although there is no mention of the Apple Watch in the listings, it’s widely assumed that the roles are related to the listing for a fitness software engineering manager, which went up in November and is specifically for the Apple Watch.

BuzzFeed News also reported that over the last three months, Apple has stolen employees from all over the medical field. An example given by the news outlet is Anne Shelchuk, who has a doctorate in biomedial engineering. Shelchuk left the ultrasound software company ZONARE Medical Systems back in November to work with Apple’s health technology team, according to her LinkedIn. Along with Shelchuk, Apple has reportedly snapped up medical engineer Craig Slyfield, system design engineer Nathan Clark, who has a patent for a device that separates cells, Jay Mung, who worked on sensor algorithms for Medtronic’s continuous glucose monitoring systems and Jennifer Hillier, a former exercise physiologist at the University of California.

Apple Watch 2 rumours: Less reliance on iPhone

Apple plans for the second-gen Apple Watch to have more functionality when it’s separated from an iPhone, and has apparently named the project “tether-less” internally. As it stands, the Apple Watch can only support activity tracking, music playback and mobile payments without a paired iPhone, with many other features including text messaging, emailing and using third-party apps impossible without an iPhone for the Apple Watch to communicate with. The release of watchOS 2 brought the ability for third-party apps to run natively on the Watch, but the apps still requires an iPhone for to send and receive data.

However, the with the Apple Watch 2, Apple is reportedly looking to make it more capable when your iPhone isn’t connected, simply by adding a new wireless chipset into the wearable. What difference will this make to the Apple Watch experience? While it probably won’t be able to handle data-heavy requests (such as software updates), other tasks could be handled without the assistance of an iPhone.

The new wireless chipset should also enable a heavily requested “Find my Watch” feature similar to “Find my iPhone” which is said to utilise Wi-Fi router triangulation technology, as opposed to GPS.

Apple Watch 2 rumours: Battery life

There was great speculation about the battery life of the Apple Watch on the run up to its (second) announcement. Apple put this worry to bed, claiming that the Apple Watch has an “all day battery life” but would still have to be charged each night, much like the iPhone. The issue with “all day battery life” is that you have to charge it almost every evening, which isn’t always possible.

Looking at rivals like the Pebble Time Steel, which has a pretty amazing battery life of around 10 days, it makes the Apple Watch battery seem a bit disappointing. Yes, the Pebble Time Steel uses a less power hungry display, but even a five-day Apple Watch battery life would be better than having to charge it every night.

It also opens up more functionality in the Apple Watch, mainly with regards to sleep tracking. With a longer battery life, users could wear the Apple Watch to bed and get accurate stats about their sleep – information that’s pretty popular, judging by the success of apps like Sleep Cycle.

According to a rumour picked up by gforgames, Apple is working with LG and Samsung to produce thinner OLED displays for the second generation Apple Watch to accommodate a larger battery. The larger battery should provide the Apple Watch 2 with a longer battery life, though the report doesn’t specify just how long it might last. The report also claims that the Apple Watch 2 will bring no real changes to the screen size, resolution or overall design of the watch, with Apple not jumping onto the round smartwatch display bandwagon any time soon.

 

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