The Watch list: 7 things we want from the Apple Watch 3

Find out the features we want to see Apple crowing about later this week…

10 September 2017
by Stuff Staff

The original Apple Watch suffered from David Beckham Syndrome, which leaves the sufferer unable decide whether they prefer sport or fashion.

That all changed with the Watch Series 2, which went decisively down the sporting route. Its combination of GPS, waterproofing and a range of fun workout apps make it our favourite beginners’ fitness watch.

So what more can we possibly demand from the Watch 3? Quite a lot, actually.

The good news is quite a few of our gripes have already been solved in the imminent watchOS 4 update, which will bring personalised coaching, a very promising Siri Watch Face and a much-improved UI.

But as we’re greedy gadget gannets, we’ve made a list of the things we’d like to see announced with the rumoured Watch 3 announcement on September 12.

1) AN ALWAYS-ON SCREEN

We know, the Apple Watch needs its raise-to-wake feature to save vital battery juice.

But there are times (when crammed into a lift, for example) when we glance down at our wrist only to see a black screen.

Yes, it’s a real tragedy. Still, only when Apple figures out how to give the Watch an always-on display, while keeping its best-in-class screen, can we consider it a true replacement for our now unloved analogue ticker.

With rumours circling of the Apple Watch 3 moving to a more power efficient micro LED screen, maybe combining this with a power-saving watch face could yet deliver the dream.

This new screen tech might also lead the way to another new feature…

2) TOUCH ID

Rumours and patents from earlier this year pointed towards Apple not only including micro-LED tech in the Watch 3, but putting infrared diodes on the display’s surface too.

This would mean the possibility of the Watch 3 having Touch ID embedded into its screen, to replace awkwardly typing out a passcode.

Not that you have to do that very often, but Touch ID could open up lots of possibilities and boost the Watch’s increasing independence from the iPhone.

Then again, with the iPhone 8 apparently ditching Touch ID entirely for facial recognition, this is now looking increasingly unlikely for the Watch 3. We shall see on September 12.

3) A SPOTIFY APP WITH OFFLINE MUSIC

Our dream running setup is an Apple Watch filled with offline Spotify songs, connected to a pair of Airpods (or sporty Bluetooth earphones).

In theory, it’s not far off. The Apple Watch lets you listen to offline songs from Apple Music, but not other streaming services. Meanwhile, the Samsung Gear Sport recently became the first smartwatch to come with support for offline Spotify.

A solution for Apple Watch fans seemed tantalisingly close when Snowy was announced, but the app has since been swallowed up by Spotify and there’s still no release date.

Naturally, Apple wants to keep pushing its own streaming service. But we hope it might yet let Spotify jump onto the Watch and let us decide which service can soundtrack our runs.

4) A STORAGE BOOST

Hang on, the Apple Watch 3 is going to have built-in 4G, right? So why bother with old-school flash storage when you can stream your songs and podcasts?

Firstly, we’re not convinced that 4G will be the default option for the Watch 3, with a premium version plus a Wi-Fi model more likely.

And anyway, if the Watch is going to become truly independent of the iPhone, then more local storage would still be a boon. It’s still more reliable than streaming and would likely offer a smoother user experience (not to mention a nice backup in areas of poor coverage).

Right now, the Apple Watch has 8GB storage, with only 2GB available for music (which works out at a few hundred songs). We’d like the option of at least double that for all our Overcast podcasts and, cough, offline Spotify music.

5) UNDERWATER HAPTIC FEEDBACK

The Apple Watch is already an excellent swimming watch. And it’s about to get better with watchOS 4, which gives it the ability to auto-count sets.

But something Apple hasn’t quite been able to figure out is how to get its haptic feedback working underwater. This would make a big difference to apps like MySwimPro, which could then give you a nudge when you’ve completed a speed drill or need to move onto the next set.

Making haptics stand out from the splashes of water is a big challenge, but Apple’s got a huge, Watch-focused fitness lab in Cupertino for a reason.

6) NEWS ON GYMKIT FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

One of the most interesting features of watchOS 4 is GymKit, a new platform that lets you use your Apple Watch to grab and sync data with gym equipment.

Details about the rollout, particularly for countries outside the US, were a little vague when it was announced in June 2017.

But we’re hoping a Watch 3 announcement will be the perfect stage to reveal when and where we’ll be able to tap our smartwatch on an NFC pad and find out just how few calories we burned during that brutal treadmill session.

7) CONTINUOUS GLUCOSE MONITORING

Ah yes, the dream for all wearables. We don’t expect it’ll make the Apple Watch 3, but non-invasive glucose monitoring on smartwatches would be a big deal – and not just for diabetes sufferers.

Measuring your glucose fluctuations can give you big insights into your diet, stress levels and moods. And of course, it’d be a big improvement on today’s needle-based probes.

The trouble is, it’s really hard to do this accurately. This is why it’s remained a holy grail rather than a reality for years, but who knows – maybe Apple has another groundbreaking ‘one more thing’ up its sleeve.

WHAT ABOUT 4G?

The biggest rumour surrounding the Apple Watch 3 is built-in LTE, which reports suggest is quite likely.

We’re a bit in two minds about the possibility. There are certainly benefits, including iPhone-free music streaming, notifications and VOIP calls.

But the potential hit to battery life and the Watch’s price tag, plus the currently limited benefits, mean it didn’t make our wishlist.

Of course, Apple could quite easily convince us otherwise come September 12th.

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