We're still a few months away from the launch of the Apple Watch Series 8, but we're already hearing plenty of details about Apple's next-generation wrist-worn device.
This guide aggregates everything we know about the Apple Watch Series 8 so far based on rumors. Note that it's still early in the product cycle, so these features have yet to be confirmed, and Apple's plans could change.
Prior to the release of the Apple Watch Series 7, multiple rumors suggested Apple was working on a refreshed design with flat edges similar to the flat edges of the iPhone 13 and iPad Pro, but that didn't end up happening.
Rumors now suggest that the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a similar sort of design with a flat display. Leaker ShrimpApplePro recently said that "there is a flat front glass display" being developed for the Apple Watch and there's a "high chance" that it's destined for the Apple Watch Series 8.
If this does indeed happen, we could see an Apple Watch Series 8 with the flat-edged design that was initially rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7.
Display analyst Ross Young believes that the Apple Watch Series 8 could perhaps come in three sizes instead of two, with Apple adding an even larger size that would join the 41 and 45mm size options.
Rugged Apple Watch
According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on a version of the Apple Watch "with a rugged casing" that's aimed at athletes, hikers, and others who use the watch in more extreme conditions than day to day wear. It will feature the same functionality as a standard Apple Watch, but with improved impact resistance and protection. Apple is expected to launch the rugged Apple Watch in 2022.
The Apple Watch Series 8 will feature an S8 chip that will have the same specifications as the S7, which means no major improvements to speed or efficiency. Apple's 2023 Apple Watch models will instead get an all-new processor.
The upcoming Apple Watch may feature an updated low power mode that would allow more functions to work while battery life is being preserved.
Possible Health Features
According to The Wall Street Journal and other sources, Apple is developing several new health features for future Apple Watch models. These include blood-pressure monitoring, a thermometer for fertility and sleep tracking, sleep apnea detection, and diabetes detection.
Some of these features could be introduced in the Apple Watch Series 8, but it is not clear if all of these sensors are ready so Apple could also hold the functionality until a later date.
Women's health features, sleep updates, new fitness options, and medication management are all features that are set to launch prior to blood pressure and glucose monitoring, features not expected until 2025 or later.
A body temperature sensor could be added to the Apple Watch as soon as 2022, the temperature sensor would initially be used for fertility planning. In future versions of the Apple Watch, it could be used to determine if a user has a higher than normal body temperature, but it is unlikely to show an actual measurement.
Apple initially intended to put temperature monitoring in the Series 7, but was unable to get it to work accurately enough. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that if Apple has improved its algorithm enough, the series 8 could include the body temperature monitoring feature.
Skin temperature can vary based on the environment, and because a smart watch is unable to monitor core body temperature, it is difficult to get an accurate reading without the proper algorithm.
Sleep Apnea Detection
Apple is aiming to use the existing blood oxygen sensor to detect sleep apnea, but there are issues with taking frequent readings without significantly impacting battery life, so it's not clear if this feature will make it to launch.
Car Crash Detection
Apple is developing a crash detection feature for the iPhone and the Apple Watch, which could come out in 2022. It will use sensors like the accelerometer to detect car accidents when they occur by measuring a spike in gravitational force.
When a car crash is detected, the iPhone or the Apple Watch would automatically dial emergency services to get help. Since it's planned for 2022, this could be a feature designed for the iPhone 14 models and the Apple Watch Series 8, though it's not likely to be limited to those devices. It will be an expansion of the Fall Detection feature that's in existing Apple Watch and iPhone models.
Atrial Fibrillation Improvements
In watchOS 9, Apple is expanding atrial fibrillation detection to calculate "burden," or how often a person is in a state of atrial fibrillation across a certain period of time.
Activity Tracking Update
The Apple Watch Series 8 is expected to adopt a faster system-on-a-chip that will bring performance improvements. Apple did not make changes with the S7 chip, but the S8 chip is expected to gain some speed and efficiency improvements.
Apple Watch Patents
Apple has patented several interesting technologies that could potentially be used in future Apple Watch devices, such as a biometric authentication feature that authenticates identity based on the wearer's skin pattern. Such a feature would eliminate the need for a passcode when wearing the Apple Watch.
Another patent describes a self-tightening Apple Watch band that would adjust during intensive activities like running or working out for accurate heart rate readings, and loosen up afterward. The tightening could also be used for directions, workout reps, and more.
A third patent describes an Apple Watch band with an LED indicator that would visualize the progress of an activity or task, providing a visual indicator when completing a workout or an Activity ring, for example.
Apple in December 2019 published a patent describing how the Apple Watch could help doctors monitor the symptoms of Parkinson's patients using sensors to keep track of tremors. Apple believes this method of data tracking will allow users to better track their symptoms so they can plan activities around symptom patterns.
A 2020 pair of patents suggest Apple is researching Touch ID and an under-display camera for the Apple Watch. Apple describes a side button with an integrated Touch ID fingerprint sensor that could be used for user identification and device unlocking. Currently, the Apple Watch unlocks with a passcode and also when the paired iPhone is unlocked.
As for an under-display camera, the patent describes a two-stage display technology that includes a camera that is externally visible only when engaged. In 2021, Apple outlined a radical redesign of the Apple Watch in a patent filing, featuring a rounded watch face, wrap-around flexible display, and digitally-customizable watch bands.
Apple has filed several other patents covering the possibility of moving hardware into the Apple Watch's band, including batteries, speakers, kinetic power generators, haptic feedback devices, and even cameras.
There's no word on whether these patented features will make it into an actual Apple Watch in the future, but it's interesting to see what Apple is working on and considering behind the scenes.
Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch Series 8 will launch alongside a new rugged model and also a new version of the low-cost Apple Watch SE. We don't yet know what will be added to the Apple Watch SE, but it is likely to have a faster processor.
Future Apple Watch Features
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Apple is rumored to have a team of biomedical engineers working on a method for non-invasively monitoring blood glucose levels using optical sensors, technology that could potentially make its way into the Apple Watch at some point in the future. Such a feature would make diabetes management much easier because it would not require puncturing the skin.
Blood glucose monitoring has been a feature that Apple has been working on for years, based on rumors, but it is a serious health feature that would likely require regulation.
DigiTimes claims that Apple is working on short wavelength infrared sensors, which could allow the Apple Watch Series 8 to monitor blood glucose by measuring the amount of sugar in the blood. DigiTimes isn't always the most reliable source, and Bloomberg says that blood glucose monitoring is still many years away.
Noninvasive blood sugar monitoring is a feature that is several years away and does not have a target launch year as of yet. In the meantime, Apple could add improve support for third-party glucose monitors.
Blood Pressure Measurements
Blood pressure monitoring technology won't be ready until 2024 at the earliest, and a launch could slip to 2025. Apple is working on an updated sensor and accompanying software that would be able to detect high blood pressure, but in testing, it has not been accurate.
Apple is testing blood pressure monitoring with employees. The feature will not provide specific systolic and diastolic readings, but will instead warn Apple watch users that they may have hypertension that should be investigated further.
Apple supplier Rockley Photonics is working on an advanced digital sensor system that allows wearable devices to monitor biomarkers like core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactate, glucose trends, and more, using optical sensors. This technology could eventually make its way to the Apple Watch given the partnership between Apple and Rockley, and rumors suggest we will see blood pressure monitoring capabilities introduced at some point.
In the future, Apple plans to bring satellite connectivity to the Apple Watch, which will allow for emergency texting and SOS response features right on the wrist. Satellite connectivity is coming to the iPhone 14, and later, it will expand to the Apple Watch.
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