Updated on 8/18 to address Bloomberg's speculation over cellular chips and battery life.
The second-generation Apple Watch is an exciting product: It's going to be Apple's first chance at revising the hardware and look of its wearable, and though we're not expecting to see dramatic design changes this time around, there's still plenty to look forward to.
When's the next Apple Watch going to come out?
Reports are mixed, but if we had to bet, we'd put our money on early Fall, around the same time as the iPhone 7. Not only does that give the company time to perfect new hardware, but it standardizes the Watch's release cycle alongside Apple's most popular product, the iPhone — moreover, given that the Apple Watch requires an iPhone to function, it seems logical to pair the two.
What's it going to look like?
Though Apple hasn't released official numbers on how well the Watch and its various lines are doing, expect both the Sport and steel Apple Watch casings to show up in version two — though maybe with a few additional anodized color options in the Sport line.
Hazier is the future of the $10,000 Apple Watch Edition — it may continue in a very limited run given Apple chief design officer Jony Ive's reported fondness for the product, but we also wouldn't be surprised to see it go the way of the dodo. (The fanciest rose-gold dodo.)
What about a round version?
A round Apple Watch would require a round interface. Apple isn't interested in cutting corners. (Sorry!) To prevent fragmentation, it would have to work on both rounded rectangle and circular Apple Watches. That's a challenge.
So far, though, it sounds like any change we're getting to the Apple Watch this year will be internal, not external — expect the same basic shape and size, though we'd love to see a few millimeters of thickness shaved off.
What sizes will it come in?
Some people like big watches, just like some people like Plus-sized phones, so we won't say never on the prospect of a bigger model; 38mm and 42mm seem to be doing well for the company for now, though, and will probably continue into version 2.
What kind of bands will be available?
Expect new Fall colors for Apple's Sport, Woven Nylon, Classic Buckle, and Modern Buckle, along with a potential new mystery band or two.
We've also heard that non-Hermès designers want in on the fray: Designer Coach already launched its own line of leather bands in mid-June. We wouldn't be surprised to see other companies take an interest in having their bands on Apple Store shelves.
How about the internals? Please tell me it's going to be faster.
We sure hope so. The current Apple Watch's S1 computer-on-a-chip is pushed pretty much to its max, so any chipset improvements made for version two will be much appreciated. In addition, the next version of the Apple Watch may be significantly aided by faster watchOS software and a requirement for all new apps to run natively on the device.
What about the battery life?
Currently, the 42mm version of the Apple Watch averages around 18 hours of battery life, with the 38mm version coming in slightly under that; our own real-world tests put the 38mm version closer to 13-14 hours with regular Activity workouts.
Even though the current Apple Watch sports "all-day battery life" as a selling point, true all-day battery life would seem to be the goal for the second-generation device — 20 to 24 hours, which would likely average to 18 with workouts and other battery-intensive options draining the device.
Will version two get cellular data and GPS, decoupling it from the iPhone?
In a dream world, sure. In reality: Only if you want 5 hours of battery life. The Apple Watch chipset is pretty impressive given what it does, but adding a cellular and GPS antenna would certainly draw a hefty additional amount of power — and unless Apple comes up with a revolutionary new battery by the fall, it's going to be too much power for such a small device.
Recent reports from Bloomberg would seem to confirm this theory. According to writer Mark Gurman:
"Apple had been in talks this year with mobile phone carriers in the U.S. and Europe to add cellular connectivity to the watch... Apple warned that, even on an aggressive schedule, the earliest possible shipment time-frame for cellular models would have been this December, one of the people said.
"The source of the delay is that current cellular chips consume too much battery life, reducing the product's effectiveness and limiting user appeal, according to three of the people. Apple has begun studying lower-power cellular data chips for future smartwatch generations."
We may see cellular data make it to a future generation of the watch, but not 2016's version. There are also considerations regarding carriers to be made: Would the Apple Watch use data from your iPhone plan? Would it have its own data plan? How would you sign up?
That said, I would like to see more options from the Apple Watch's Wi-Fi antenna: Given the Apple TV's ability to dictate passwords, the Apple Watch should be able to integrate this feature to connect to any Wi-Fi network, protected or open — even if your iPhone hasn't been there yet.
We're a little more bullish on the addition of a GPS antenna, and Bloomberg agrees: It's not cellular, but it would give runners and other health-trackers a lot more data during their workouts.
Any new health sensors?
Health is a huge part of the Apple Watch's message, but right now, the company's somewhat limited in what it can do without FDA approval — and heavy involvement during development, which could compromise Apple's vaunted security policies.
The first-generation Apple Watch has a pulse oximeter on the rear casing; when pressed against your wrist, it uses a technology called photoplethysmography to measure how fast blood is flowing through your veins. Currently, Apple just uses this sensor for pulse readings, though in theory, the company could also use it to check the oxygen saturation in your blood.
There are currently third-party apps that do this on the iPhone by having you press your finger up against the rear camera and flash, but they're expressly marked with warnings that disqualify it as "official" testing hardware, and encourage anyone with medical problems to see a doctor. (See my above comment about "FDA-approved and tested.") And much as it would be nice to see that statistic, I don't see Apple providing readings it doesn't feel confident about to its users; the company experimented with but ultimately left out "high heart reading" notifications from the first version of the Apple Watch for similar reasons.
The same goes for blood pressure and glucose monitoring: While they would be fantastic statistics for users with blood pressure problems and diabetes, Apple may be better off pairing with third-party Bluetooth devices that are FDA-approved.
That's not to say you won't see new developments with Apple and health: If the company can improve battery life, we may well see the introduction of sleep tracking. There are a few apps (like David Smith's excellent Sleep++) that can do this already on the watch, but they require significant battery use and the ability to charge the timepiece in the morning.
I also wouldn't be surprised to see more information from Apple's chief operating officer and Health spokesperson Jeff Williams on CareKit and ResearchKit; both features have the potential to change patients' lives for the better, and Apple will no doubt be touting the studies — and any new trials — as part of the Watch experience.
Can the second-generation Apple Watch please be waterproof enough that I can swim with it?
Technically, the first-generation watch is water resistant enough to swim with it for brief periods of time — it's rated IPX7 on the Ingress Protection scale, which allows for 3 foot submersion for up to 30 minutes. But it could get a lot better. Samsung's Gear S2 watch, in contrast, is rated IP68: It's completely sealed from things like dust and dirt, and can be submerged safely underwater up to 5 feet for 30 minutes.
Device waterproofing is getting good enough that we wouldn't be surprised to see the second-generation Apple Watch improve on its initial rating — and, with luck, the iPhone 7 along with it.
Will Siri work offline, and will it actually talk to me?
One of my biggest wish-list items is for Siri to work quickly and more effectively in the second-generation, and nothing would improve upon that more than to have the voice assistant able to do certain offline tasks. Obviously, you won't be able to send a text message or call your friend, but being able to launch apps on the device, start workouts, add reminders, and start timers would be a huge improvement. That said, the second-generation Apple Watch's processor may not be powerful enough for this kind of co-processing just yet — but hey, a girl can dream.
There's also the question of Siri actually talking: Currently, Siri on the Apple Watch is text-only — the voice assistant won't read anything out loud. The first-generation Apple Watch does have a small speaker, so such a software improvement would be possible for both the original watch and its successor; the question is whether Apple feels such a Settings option would be frequently used. From an accessibility standpoint, however, it seems like a must-add: Without Siri's voice, those needing help with sight can't use the voice assistant at all.
Will I be able to use my Android phone with the new Apple Watch?
Still TBD, though we haven't heard anything to that effect. If the company wants to make Apple Watch available to the largest group of users, it's a smart move to consider — and there's precedent in Apple Music, iTunes, the iPod, and iPhone. And given that Android Wear watches support the iPhone, there may be a strong business incentive to move in that direction.
Of course, Apple may want to keep the Watch platform-exclusive; depending on the wearable's features, it might be another good way to convert users to iPhone.
Any word on watchOS 3?
We've got a full deep dive for you here on iMore, but big things to look forward to include speedy apps, better watch face interactions and more complication options, a new Dock for frequently used apps, health improvements, the Scribble keyboard for messaging, and the new Breathe app, among other improvements.
Any news on new apps?
We know that all third-party apps will have to be native starting June 1, which should help speed up on-device processing time. When it comes to Apple's primary apps, you'll be getting a new HomeKit app and Breathe app, and built-in features like the Heartbeat sensor are being flipped over to their own app instances.
Any other questions?
Have questions, theories, or nitpicks about what the next Apple Watch is going to look like? Let us know below.