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Apple Watch 2 development reportedly underway ahead of 2016 release

Apple Watch WatchPlate rose gold

Apple is reportedly planning to ship the first successor to the Apple Watch sometime next year around the second or third quarter, according to Chinese media source UDN. The report cites comments made during a meeting with Barry Lam, chairman and founder of Quanta Computer, an Apple Watch manufacturer. While it’s no surprise that Apple would be planning to introduce the Apple Watch 2 in 2016, a third quarter release would mean a launch two years after the first model was introduced and roughly a year and a half since it went on sale.

The report does mention initial shipments in small volume during the second quarter, meaning possibly meaning June, although that could amount to production ramping up ahead of a fall launch which is ordinarily what occurs before major product launches.

Apple first introduced the current Apple Watch last year in September 2014, then previewing it again in March 2015 before starting sales in late April. While Apple hasn’t updated the Apple Watch hardware this year, it has released the watchOS 2 software update adding new features, introduced new color options for Apple Watch Sport, Sport bands, and Classic Buckle leather bands, as well as a new high-end collection through a partnership with Hermès.

While 1-day battery life has been an issue for some Apple Watch users (more so after watchOS 2), the next-generation Apple Watch is believed to offer similar battery life performance for now. 9to5Mac reported in June that Apple was targeting 2016 for the launch of the next Apple Watch version, adding that a potential FaceTime camera for video calls was being considered.

Current Apple Watches rely heavily on connected iPhones for most functionality including the initial setup process and managing a lot of the experience. To start to remedy that restraint, Apple has been developing changes called “tether-less” that ease the dependency when on Wi-Fi. Enhances coming to Bluetooth next year, including greater range and increased speed for data transfer, will likely also benefit future Apple Watches.

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  1. applegetridofsimandjack - 7 years ago

    This device needs to become much better at every single thing it does. Battery life, more sensors for fitness/health tracking…

    • rahhbriley - 7 years ago

      Nah man, I want a few things to get worse, specifically battery life. If I don’t have to charge it twice a day, I won’t be able to make a big production about how the battery life sucks.

      • applegetridofsimandjack - 7 years ago

        Are you bûtthürt? My point is that the Apple Watch doesn’t do enough. It doesn’t do a single thing very well.

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      It already does those things well…

    • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

      Sensors of course need to come, as that’s the number 1 reason for a wearable to exist. I think my biggest complaint about the watch is that if you receive a notification and don’t look at it almost immediately, it goes to the Notification Center, and then you have to use your other hand to see it. That’s a completely idiotic thing for the software to do. Unless you read it (or accidentally turn the screen on), it should not go to Notification Center. It should wait until the screen turns on and notify like normally. The most annoying, stupid thing about it is that you’ll get a tap and raise your wrist to see what it was just moments later and it’s already in Notification Center, forcing you to use your other hand to see it. Just bad software design.

      • Lee Pierce - 7 years ago

        I feel differently. I don’t want my notifications to remain. I don’t want to be at work getting a text from my significant other and worry about rolling my wrist so that text is shown especially several mins later. I like the movement as it mimics how I have my iPhone set up.

      • Brett Kohli - 7 years ago

        They are probably making the assumption that if you dont look right away that you don’t want to see it, given that all you have to do is raise your arm. Its a better assumption than making you have to bypass it the next time you want to see the time. I think its a good thing.

    • virtualstorm - 7 years ago

      I totally agree. It’s the only Apple product I actually regretted buying.

  2. crichton007 - 7 years ago

    Is anyone surprised the next version is already underway? It’s not like Apple starts working on things a week before they announce them.

  3. I think right when the first version was about to be shipped they started to work on the second one and were of course picking up the feedback from people and so on.

    • *feedback mainly when the first version started to sell, I meant it that way

    • Mustafa Gerçek - 7 years ago

      Of Course they do, and they do it mostly for three years(short term plan). It is written in the jobs biography. A table in a room of Jony Ive with all Apple products for the next three years. Jobs described it like walking on a timeline. And Cook mentioned they began 2011 with the watch that came 2014.

  4. dwsolberg - 7 years ago

    The main problem with the watch is the battery life (or its kissing cousin, speed), so it doesn’t surprise me that the next release is going to take extra time because battery life is difficult to improve in general.

    The other problem is communication between the watch and iPhone. Almost all third-party apps have problems and/or odd slowness on the watch, and after having written my own app for the watch, I can say it’s at least partly because communication between the watch and phone often fails or lags in unexpected ways. It probably has to do with Bluetooth, since almost every Bluetooth 4 device I’ve owned is flaky. (The Bluetooth headsets work well but they use Bluetooth 2, which takes a lot more (wait for it) battery.

    In many ways, I’d like the watch better without third-party apps because at least then I wouldn’t get disappointed every time I tried to use them.

    • totencough - 7 years ago

      What are you doing with your watch that causes you to wear the battery down? Every day I wake up and put on the watch, and take it off when I’m ready to sleep. I consistently end the day with +55% battery life.

      The one thing I can imagine is doing consistent workouts. I don’t do full workouts that often, but the times when I have it does wear down the battery quite a bit. Persistent sensors for everything else don’t wear it down that much, so I assume you’re working out every day?

      • I’m with you on the battery life! I think the battery does a damn good job for a small device. And thats with a lot of walking around in the day, and a work out most days. Battery life is always +50% when I go to bed. The only time I had an issue was when I used an app that must have kept running in the back ground or something, and drained it. But a restart of the watch and phone solved that.

        I don’t see charging something while I sleep as a problem personally.
        Maybe I’m not ‘playing’ with my watch enough! Or maybe people just like something to moan about…

        I’m looking forward to the next watch being faster more than anything.

      • dwsolberg - 7 years ago

        I wasn’t intending to state that my battery life is poor. Instead, I meant to write that my (and others’ from reading blogs, etc) problems with the watch are related to making good battery life. For example, here are a few things that would make the watch a LOT better for me that are very heavily dependent on battery:

        1. Keep the display on all the time. This is true when scanning a code at the health club, or just not needing to obnoxiously move my wrist when I want to unobtrusively check the time during a meeting. It also makes the watch look nicer, which is important to me.

        2. Have apps update in the background. This is huge. Watches are made to glance at quickly. As just one example, when I look at my weather glance, I want to just quickly look rather than pause a few seconds while the actual weather data is updated. (When I first look in the morning, it gives the information for the previous evening.) This is true in all sorts of apps I use, and it’s true in Apple’s glances.

        3. The watch is slow to launch any sort of app, and I’m pretty certain that’s because it’s conserving battery. I even made a simple watch app that just displayed static text on the watch. It takes way longer to launch than you’d expect. I’m assuming it’s because Apple is waking up processes or something that allows for better battery life when the app is not being used. This might be partly a code issue, but I suspect it has a lot to do with battery.

        4. The watch has a speaker, let me listen to podcasts (or music) from my watch. It would be very convenient for me, but I’m assuming that running a speaker for a few hours isn’t good for the battery.

      • virtualstorm - 7 years ago

        @dwsolberg You got it, man. I totally agree.

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      Working on battery life is a big reason why they announced the Apple Watch in September last year at The iPhone event and waited till late April this year to start selling it.

      Meanwhile Apple has kept working on on batteries and sensor reliability.

      This is really such a non story.

      The biggest thing Apple needs to figure out is what’s the main feature of the watch and its target audience. I have a feeling we will see a health band released alongside the Apple Watch 2. The band will be full of health sensors have gr water battery life and probably have a very low powered screen

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        I think they’ll do sensor bands (might be some in testing by FDA right now) and battery bands. One could carry extra battery bands and never run out of power. I think the battery bands will charge by being attached to the Apple Watch while it is charging, and after it is full, the band will begin to charge.

        I really wish they would do compression shirt and leggings for males and females with EMG sensors, ECG sensors, accelerometers, electroconductivity sensors, etc., to measure numerous things the watch and bands would never be able to, like muscle activity, movement, muscle growth, maybe body fat % changes, etc. I seriously doubt they will though, sadly.

    • Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 7 years ago

      BLE 4.2, which is now in most new iphones and ipads will help with battery and data transfer speed. New watch will definitely have it.

  5. minieggseater - 7 years ago

    Ive not got one yet but im more interested in watchOS3

  6. This seems nearly a foregone conclusion that there will be a new version of the watch next year. I think it’s funny that a lot of tech bloggers and podcaster personalities have thought that Apple may not release a new watch every year. I imagine after spending $999 on a stainless Apple Watch with link bracelet, they are rationalizing their purchases by telling themselves that it won’t be obsolete after just a year.

  7. Make it waterproof.

  8. Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 7 years ago

    “Bluetooth next year, including greater range and increased speed for data transfer, will likely also benefit future Apple Watches.”

    And by future it probably means watch 3.

    BLE 4.2 only just started going into production devices in September even though the spec was finalized December last year. I thought it’d be in the first apple watch since it had features that would benefit it. But apparently it takes almost a year for chip makers to start making chips that support the new specs.

    Even if Apple did rush the new spec into the first apple watch… It wouldn’t have mattered until the phones had it too. Since Apple updated even the older iphone 6 to BLE 4.2 I think it’s a safe bet the new Apple watch in April with have BLE 4.2.

  9. mashdots - 7 years ago

    Aaaaaand this is why I haven’t bought an Apple Watch. My current watches have not been superseded by newer, faster models that do more.

    • Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 7 years ago

      That’s like saying, “Aaaand this is why I haven’t bought a car. My horse has not been superseded by newer and faster cars.”

      Why look negatively on something that is new and improving?

  10. jmush (@jmush) - 7 years ago

    I only believe articles written by Mark Gurman. :)

  11. o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

    If they add a FaceTime camera, everyone in charge at Apple is a blatant moron. More than anything, I want to not think that everyone in charge at Apple is a blatant moron. God that would be so so so embarrassing.

    • Soluble Apps - 7 years ago

      Which is why I don’t believe that particular rumour.

      Its fine to release a new watch, and vital for the longterm growth of the platform, just as long as the current one continues to be supported

  12. Jeff Hurd (@jeffhurd) - 7 years ago

    Don’t get why people complain about battery life. How much do you guys use this thing? I use mine a good amount throughout the day (workout tracking, dictation, notifications) and rarely get below 50% by the end of the day. I’m not going to sleep with it on so setting it on my nightstand while I sleep ensures 24+ hours more of battery life anyways.

  13. pstelman - 7 years ago

    I was really hoping for some compelling new features in the Apple Watch 2, but if it’s just a Face Time camera… maybe I’ll have to wait for the Apple Watch Pro. Actually, not sure what new features I’d want. The main benefits I get from my current Apple Watch are: See what conference room my next meeting is in, Get two-factor authentication codes to enter into apps, and See how soon I have to recharge it. I rarely use any of the apps. There’s always a much better version on my iPhone.

  14. Jonathan Brusco - 7 years ago

    Battery life is not an issue for me. You almost need it to be a daily charge scenario. I think that unless you go for 4+ days without a charge, you’re making a mistake. If my watch could go 2 days without a charge it would actually create a worse user experience because I wouldn’t get accustomed to plugging it in at night, which means that every so often, I’d wind up with a dead watch mid day. In the current scenario I know that my watch will almost never run out of power if I plug it in at night.

    My biggest complain with my watch is the speed of its communications with my phone. I often will get my phone out because I know that it will react so much more quickly than my watch. If this speed can pick up and SIRI functionality can improve so that I don’t have to get out my phone, I’ll find the watch much more useful.

  15. louiethelug72 - 7 years ago

    I want it to take my Blood Pressure…. They already have Blood Pressure cuffs, now we need to figure a way to miniaturize the blood pressure cuff sensors type device into the Apple Watch…. Now That would make the watch a medical player. Along with that add blood oxygen sensors etc….,

    • Tom Adams - 7 years ago

      clearly you don’t know that the cuff is a cuff because it is inflating to block the flow of blood in order to figure out your blood pressure. A watch just can’t do that. Best you could hope for is a pulse oximeter

  16. appleo - 7 years ago

    I want holographic images in the next Apple Watch. That would be awesome. But probably i’ll only see something similar in the next Star Wars movie.

    • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

      Yes, holographic images will definitely come to the watch before the phone. Haha.. That’s decades and new battery tech away (for the phone).

  17. chrish1961 - 7 years ago

    I’m so happy development precedes release. Thank you 9 to 5 Mac!

  18. Ti case and GPS and I’ll gladly upgrade.

  19. bellevueboy - 7 years ago

    I dont even know if people(app and device makers) have taken full benefit of what is to offer. I have hardly seen any third party complications and fer few good native apps. Home security systems, garage door openers, Honeywell thermostat apps(not only lyric) have a huge benefit being on my wrist. Even I don’t think has a native app. the one that’s currently on is so slow.
    I found a remote app for my av receiver but not by the receiver manufacturer, its good but could have been better but I use it all the time. All home door bell apps need to be on the watch. These in themselves will make the watch more usable for me. Of course as I have always written for me the number 1 use was payments and I keep finding it works in more and more places. Used it at supercuts the other day.


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.