Apple Watch might be selling well -- 2.79 million so far, according to an estimate -- but the smartwatch's general lack of useful features and apps have left some early reviewers unimpressed. A recently announced software update might be changing that, but a reported bigger jump in functionality in the next version could turn a lot more heads.
Well-sourced Apple reporter Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac thinks he's got the skinny on what could be included in the next version of Apple Watch. He believes the next Apple Watch will include a video camera, which will allow users to make FaceTime video calls from their wrists, although the feature might be pushed back to a later model if it's not ready for prime time.
Those calls might be able to work without a phone -- currently, Apple Watch only has a Bluetooth radio, so it needs to be paired with an iPhone to connect to the Internet. According to Gurman, the next Apple Watch will include a Wi-Fi radio, which opens that ability to send messages without a paired phone, giving the Apple Watch significantly more standalone ability. For instance, it will enable a "Find my Watch" feature.
One of the most common complaints about the Apple Watch so far is that it feels like users are beta-testing a product that was not ready for the public. In my experience with the Apple Watch so far, I have to agree. Uses like the ability to message from my watch without my phone are extremely enticing to me, and I think they should have been included in the first-generation product.
But Gurman's peek into the Apple Watch roadmap should fill people who believe the smartwatch is the next major computing platform with hope for the device's future. Apple's product development process relies on annual, incremental changes. After a few years, the product is significantly improved even if no single release was groundbreaking. For instance, the first iPhone didn't have an App Store. Three years later, when Apple released the iPhone 4, it was a juggernaut, with beautiful glass construction and the best screen in the smartphone market at the time. How long will it take before the Apple Watch has its iPhone 4 moment?
The current Apple Watch is a glorified iPhone accessory. But in a few years, after a camera and Wi-Fi are included -- and eventually, possibly, a cellular radio -- the Apple Watch could end up being a full-fledged replacement for an iPhone. It's too bad for early adopters who bought the first version and will likely have to buy new hardware to get the features they want.
9to5Mac reports that the next-generation Apple Watch will most likely launch in 2016.