The Apple Watch is barely two months old, but details are already starting to come out about what's planned for the next model. 9to5Mac reports that Apple is currently planning to put a camera for video chatting on the top bezel of the Watch. It may also gain more independence from the iPhone by including a new wireless chip that would allow the Watch to use Wi-Fi to handle more advanced tasks. Apple is also said to be satisfied with the Watch's battery life and not focused on improving it for the next model. The report warns that Apple's current plans could be scrapped and saved for future models, depending on how development goes.
Video chatting sounds futuristic but frustrating
The addition of a video camera to the Watch is, arguably, a strange next step. While video chatting on a smartwatch certainly has a wonderfully futuristic vibe that could help to sell the new model, it could have significant downsides, including rapidly draining the Watch's battery, requiring an awkward arm position for an extended period of time, and only displaying the video on a very small screen. Of course, Apple also made the inclusion of front-facing smartphone cameras explode, so it's not worth counting this idea out based on the concept alone. Samsung has previously included a camera in a smartwatch, although it was oriented for taking photos.
Including more capable wireless abilities in the next Watch is certainly an important addition. The Watch is currently quite limited because it pretty much always needs to be paired to an iPhone over Bluetooth in order to work. It can currently do some functions over Wi-Fi, but it's largely meant as a backup — not as a way to use the Watch without a phone. It's not clear how much of that would change with an update to the Watch, but any alterations that let it grow a bit more independent are still meaningful and convenient steps forward.
Apple's customer research has apparently indicated that people are satisfied with the Watch's battery life, 9to5Mac reports. It's true that the Watch, typically, does make it through the day. But, much like the iPhone, if you actually decide to use the Watch in a significant way one day, there's a good chance that it'll run out quickly — and it's pretty rough having a dead Watch on your wrist. It's not entirely surprising then that Apple is trying to focus on new features while maintaining the Watch's existing battery life, but it would be nice to see improvement in that area in the future.
New high-end models could sit beneath the gold Editions
In addition to the new features, 9to5Mac reports that Apple is considering making a new high-end version of the Watch. It could be either an extension of the Apple Watch line or a new line that sits above the Apple Watch but well below the Edition. Apple reportedly wants to target people willing to spend more than $1,000, but not quite the $10,000 or so needed to buy a gold Edition. These new models could be the standard Apple Watch with new bands, or they could be part of a new line made with different materials, the report suggests.
There's been no real suggestion of when Apple will release the next version of the Watch, but it's likely that it won't be until next year. Apple typically updates its products on a one-year cycle, and the Watch is still only months old. It probably won't be ready for a refresh this fall, either, even when Apple releases watchOS 2, which brings with it support for native third-party apps. The updated software includes a number of other new features, including support for third-party complications, which could pretty quickly make the Watch a lot more useful.
Correction: This article previously stated that the Watch was incapable of updating apps like Weather over Wi-Fi. It can, so long as the network is already known through a paired iPhone.