We’ve only just got initial Apple Watch availability in retail stores and already Apple’s reported plans for the next model are appearing. Expect a FaceTime camera and a better standalone Wi-Fi connection says 9to5 Mac’s Mark Gurman:
“Apple’s current plans call for a video camera to be integrated into the top bezel of the Apple Watch 2, enabling users to make and receive FaceTime calls on the move via their wrists. The company telegraphed its interest in increasing Apple Watch FaceTime functionality during the rollout of watchOS 2.0 at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month.”
I think Gurman is correct to point out that FaceTime is a likely feature addition.
At its WorldWide Developer Conference earlier this month, Apple said its watchOS 2 software will support FaceTime audio calls, which can be done on current hardware. It’s a logical step to add video support for the entire FaceTime experience, which would require a video camera not found on the current Apple Watch.
While the next Apple Watch is still likely to be an accessory to an iPhone, it could rely on the phone less.
Currently, the watch can use Wi-Fi to communicate with an iPhone when beyond Bluetooth range. Moving some of the data transfers, particularly for messaging, makes sense. Apple already offers a similar feature with Continuity; a way for iPhone messages and calls to be routed to an iPad or Mac OS X computer, for example.
Why not simply add a cellular broadband radio to go iPhone-free?
That could happen in the future but not for a while. As an accessory to the iPhone, Apple Watch adds more stickiness to Apple products; a core business strategy for the company. A more practical reason that this is ways off though is the hit to battery life a cellular connection would bring.
Gurman’s sources suggest the Apple Watch 2 is a 2016 event, which sounds likely to me. Any sooner and Apple will risk the wrath of upset customers that bought into the first version. Gurman also notes that Apple is looking at watch options using other metals to provide a model that sits above the $549 to $549 stainless steel version but below the precious metal options.