Apple Watch might one day have replaceable modules for extra battery, better health tracking and different aesthetics

Apple Watch Series 4 both sizes
Apple Watch Series 4 both sizes (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has published a new patent for its Apple Watch.
  • It reveals how users might one day have the option to replace modules on their watch to provide more flexibility and functionality.
  • It could include modules for extended battery life, or for different health tracking capabilities.

A newly published Apple patent has revealed how Apple could one day offer users the option to swap and replace modules on their Apple Watch to change its functionality.

The patent is titled 'MODULAR SYSTEM FOR WATCH' and its abstract states:

Wearable electronic devices, such as watches, can be part of a modular system that provides a variety of different components and functions to achieve the results that are desired by a user. The modular configurations allow a user to easily customize a watch with one or more functional modules to provide features that integrate with other operations of the body of the watch. The functional modules can be easily exchanged with each other to provide different components and functions at different times. Accordingly, a watch body need not include permanent components that provide every function that will later be desired by the user. Instead, the watch can have expanded and customizable capabilities by the use of one or more functional modules.

The description states:

Wearable electronic devices, including watches, can perform a range of functions that is determined by the components (e.g., sensors, circuitry, and other hardware) included with the wearable device as manufactured. However, space, cost, and other considerations may limit the ability to provide every component that might provide a desired function. For example, different users may have different preferences regarding the components and functions that are provided by a given watch. Some users may desire certain health tracking capabilities, while other users may desire long battery life. Furthermore, a given user may desire different components and functions at different times. For example, a given user may desire health monitoring components and functions during exercise and components having certain cosmetic features during social activities... Given the diversity of desired components and functions, it would be beneficial to allow a user to modify components and functions of a watch to customize the user experience according to the user's desires. Additionally or alternatively, it would be beneficial to allow a manufacturer to modify components and functions of a watch according to custom orders from a purchaser and/or to streamline a manufacturing process. Wearable electronic devices, including watches, of the present disclosure facilitate customization, adaptability, and modification by a user according to the user's desires.

The replaceable modules could include different functional components such as sensors, bio-sensors, batteries, I/O components, communication interfaces, and controllers. They would also differ in material and structure to provide different sizes, flexibility, and aesthetics such as color, material, and shape.

This could mean that in the future, your Apple Watch might come with the added functionality of replaceable modules, for instance, you could add a battery module to improve your Watch's battery life, or a different type of health sensor to improve your workout tracking. It could also include aesthetic modules for social events. As a whole, it could bring a whole new level of customizability and functionality to Apple Watch, where currently the only real options lie in customizing your watch face and band.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9