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With WWDC and the debut of iOS 15 and watchOS 8 now behind us, the focus has shifted to Apple’s next big upcoming event, where it will actually unveil new hardware devices that will take full advantage of the features it’s baking into these newest software releases.
This means that the rumour mill is starting to heat up in terms of what we can expect from the Apple Watch Series 7 when it arrives in September, and now we’re starting to see reports of what Apple is working from the usual more reliable sources, confirming at least some of what we’ve heard previously.
Last month, well-known leaker Jon Prosser and AppleTrack’s Sam Kohl predicted a pretty significant redesign for the next-generation Apple Watch, suggesting that it would adopt the same flat-edged style as the iPhone 12 and recent iPad Pro models. They also hinted that it may even be available in new colours that would match the AirPods Max and iPad Air finishes.
Reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a similar prediction of a “significant form factor design change,” last fall, although he didn’t elaborate at the time on exactly what the new design would look like.
Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is shedding a bit more light on this, while also delving into what other features we can expect, not only for this year’s Apple Watch Series 7, but even into the 2022 Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple Watch Series 7 Rumors
According to Gurman, we can expect “a faster processor, improved wireless connectivity, and an updated screen,” although these are basically table stakes, so they shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
But, from a design perspective, Apple is reportedly looking at ways to make the screen even more prominent, testing thinner display borders along with a new lamination technique. The latter would bring the display closer to the front cover, making it seem more like it sits on top of the Apple Watch, rather than being buried under a piece of glass.
Gurman also adds that the new Series 7 will gain “updated ultra-wideband functionality,” although it’s unclear what he means by this, as the Apple Watch Series 6 already includes Apple’s U1 chip. Gurman says this is “the same underlying technology in the Apple AirTag item finder,” and could be used to power the digital key features coming in iOS 15 and watchOS 8.
Health and Fitness Features
Over the past couple of years, some of the biggest improvements in each model of Apple Watch has come from the addition of new health and fitness sensors. The Apple Watch Series 4 famously added an ECG sensor, and last year the Series 6 gained blood oxygen monitoring. While the Series 5 didn’t gain any major new health sensors, it did add a built-in compass.
If Gurman’s sources are correct, however, this year could mark the beginning of a trend where major health improvements only arrive in even-numbered Apple Watch models.
According to Gurman, Apple was planning to add a body temperature sensor to this year’s Apple Watch, however sources suggest that may not arrive until the Apple Watch Series 8 in 2022.
Further, while we’ve heard multiple reports that Apple is working on adding blood sugar monitoring, sources suggest that’s still a long way away, with Gurman noting that it’s “unlikely to be ready for commercial launch for several more years.”
To be fair, that’s not really all that surprising. Apple is researching some clever ways to develop non-invasive blood glucose sensors, but it’s also a nut that medical researchers have been trying to crack for over two decades. It’s a holy grail of medical devices that would significantly improve the lives of millions of people with diabetes, but it’s not surprising that it’s going to take a while to get right.
More interestingly, the report says nothing at all about the rumoured addition of blood pressure monitoring, which we’ve also been hearing about for a while. There were some sketchy rumours that Apple had planned it for the Series 6 but had to scrap it due to serious accuracy problems.
While the omission of this particular feature from Gurman’s report doesn’t rule out the possibility that it could still be coming, it also raises the possibility that Apple hasn’t been able to solve the accuracy problem, leading to either abandoning the idea entirely, or at least put it on the shelf for now.
More Exciting Things in 2022
While the Apple Watch Series 7 could turn out to be a bit underwhelming, it does look like Apple has bigger things in store for the 2022 Series 8. This not only includes the aforementioned body temperature sensor, but also the debut of an extreme sports model.
Earlier this year, Gurman reported that Apple was working on an “Apple Watch Explorer Edition” that would feature a casing design more akin to Casio’s famous G-Shock watches. This would be a special version of the Apple Watch designed to handle outdoor activities, and would be the first time Apple has produced an Apple Watch model with an entirely different casing design.
Rumour has it that Apple has been considering this idea since the very first Apple Watch launched back in 2015. However, it tabled it for a few years, returning to it only recently, and while sources say that it’s now in development, it’s unlikely to launch this year. This means we likely won’t see it until the Series 8 lands next fall, although there’s a slight possibility Apple could launch it as an updated Series 7 version midway through the normal release cycle, much like it did this year for the purple iPhone 12.
Apple Watch SE
It also looks like the Apple Watch SE is expected to fall into a biannual release cycle, with the next-generation of the lower-end model not expected to arrive until 2022, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8.