July 7 update below. This post was first published on July 4, 2022.
Apple Watch Series 8 is expected this September. But, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, not one but two new Apple Watch models could include a body-temperature sensor.
Gurman says that this feature had been rumored for some time, but its inclusion was far from certain. Gurman says it depends on whether “the capability passes muster during internal testing.” Now, though, he thinks it’s likely: “I now believe the feature is a go.” This will be on the Apple Watch Series 8, but not the lower-priced second-generation Apple Watch SE, which is also believed to be under development. The second watch likely to be capable of this is “a new rugged edition that’s aimed at extreme sports athletes.”
July 7 update. Details are emerging thick and fast about this year’s Apple Watch models. The latest revelations come from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has set out more details for the Series 8, SE and the new ruggedized Watch.
For the Series 8, he claims that the display size will be exactly as it is currently, which was expected and that the new Apple Watch SE will have the same display size—in the case of the SE, that’s a step up compared to the current SE which has a slightly smaller display. This leads me to believe that the Series 8 and SE design will be identical to the current Series 7.
But the bulk of Gurman’s comments concern the model designed for followers of extreme sports, the ruggedized Apple Watch.
The display, as mentioned below, is corroborated by Gurman as being almost 2 inches diagonally, though he reckons this means about a 7% bigger screen than before. It will have a resolution of around 410 x 502 pixels, which means it’ll be the same level of detail as Series 7, in other words, the same pixel density is predicted.
The bigger screen, Gurman says, could show, “more fitness metrics or information on watch faces at one time. The company added several new fitness features in watchOS 9, including multisport workouts and improved intensity tracking during exercise routines.”
Previous changes in screen sizes have resulted in more Apple Watch faces that are exclusive to the larger displays, so this is the next step in this direction. This new size means, “The nearly 2-inch display on the rugged model will make the screen one of the largest offerings from a mainstream smartwatch maker.”
Then there’s the material for the casing. Apple has made Watches with five different metals so far: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and ceramic, plus the original Watch Edition which came in gold. Gurman says “The extreme sports watch will use a strong metal material rather than aluminum”. Could this be a metal not used before, or perhaps the return of ceramic?
It will also have a “more shatter-resistant screen”, though it’s not clear if that statement is in comparison to the aluminum Watch or the pricier models which have a tougher, sapphire crystal front.
Oh, and there’s one other extra feature revealed: a bigger battery, “letting athletes track workouts for longer periods of time,” Gurman has been told. This is interesting. Apple has always striven to ensure that no matter which Watch you chose, battery life was equal across all. Will this change now or is the battery going to be able to do more active stuff but have the same overall battery life?
Gurman also says that the new Watch will have the same S8 as the other 2022 releases, though he comments that it will “similar performance to the S7 chip in the Apple Watch Series 7, which was on par with the S6 in the Apple Watch Series 6 from two years ago. This will mark the first time that the company is retaining the same general performance in the Apple Watch for three generations in a row.”
My take on that is that Apple ensures its processors do the job smoothly and responsively. Maybe this is more a sign of how powerful the current chip is that it needs little updating. In any case, I believe Apple would not release a Watch at this stage in the product’s life, without it being strong on performance.
July 6 update. Hot on the heels of news of the body temperature sensor comes a report of a strikingly different look for this year’s Apple Watch. For the first time ever, according to Ross Young, analyst and display expert, there will be three sizes of Apple Watch.
That doesn’t mean that each model will come in three different sizes. Rather, one model could arrive with an all-new scree size, that is, a display measuring 1.99 inches diagonally. So, while the current models come in 41mm and 45mm case sizes, and these will continue, it looks like, there will also be a 47mm model. That’s about a 5% increase in screen size.
This report was backed up by another analyst, Jeff Pu, who, as reported in MacRumors, said that in addition to the regular Watch sizes there will be a “high-end” model with a larger display.
It seems that the much-rumored ruggedized Apple Watch will be the model with the new, larger screen. A bigger display suggests a revised design, as does ruggedization. When Apple launched the flat-edged iPhone 12, it said that the new shape helped make the phone more robust (not to mention the Ceramic Shield on the front). So, could the flat-edged Apple Watch design which had appeared to leak last year be the one for this tougher Watch?
If so, we could see, for the first time, Apple launching new Watches with different design language: the Apple Watch Series 8 which matches the style of the current Series 7, alongside the new-look rugged Watch.
There will also be, it’s predicted, a new Apple Watch SE which will likely resemble the Series 8 and potentially, the first-generation SE will remain in the range to become the entry-level choice at the lowest price.
As such, it could mean that 2022 will be the biggest step-change for Apple Watch in years. For now, let’s get back to the new health feature expected on the Series 8 and ruggedized Watch.
It means that the Apple Watch will be able to tell you if you have a fever. Well, after the last couple of years, any kind of early warning information about a possible illness would be great, right?
But it’s not a thermometer. “The body-temperature feature won’t give you a specific reading—like with a forehead or wrist thermometer—but it should be able to tell if it believes you have a fever. It could then recommend talking to your doctor or using a dedicated thermometer.”
The current Apple Watch can sport heart rate variability (HRV)—the tiny variations between one heartbeat and the next—and it’s believed that Covid brings with it a plunging HRV. So, it’s already possible that the Apple Watch could spot Covid early and accurately, though this is not something Apple has ever claimed for its wearable.
So, something like a warning of fever could be interesting, and see Apple taking the Watch even further into health monitoring.
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