Apple Watch had a hell of a year in 2020. While we were all expecting the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple surprised everyone with the launch of a second Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE. Plus, Apple kept the Apple Watch Series 3 in the lineup as a low-cost option for people who want a cheaper one, meaning picking up the best Apple Watch for you has never been easier. With 2020 almost behind us, it's time to ask the question: what's in store for the Apple Watch in 2021?
While there aren't many rumors for the Apple Watch Series 7 (presumably that's what it will be called) as of yet, let's take out our tarot cards, crystal ball, and tea leaves and try to suss out what next for Apple Watch in 2021.
Apple Watch in 2021: Realistic predictions
There are quite a few features I would love to see in future versions of the Apple Watch, but not all of those wishes are the most realistic. I'll start by talking about some realistic predictions for the Apple Watch in 2021.
Touch ID on the Apple Watch has been on many people's wishlist for a long time. Thanks to a patent that Tech Radar found the Apple Watch Series 7 could be the watch that makes that dream a reality. Since Touch ID was introduced, it has been a fan-favorite biometric identification. While Face ID is certainly awesome, Touch ID has always had a loyal following.
The patent suggests that the Touch ID sensor would be in the power button on the side of the Apple Watch. This year, we saw Apple use Touch ID in a power button on the iPad Air 4. As mentioned in our iPad Air 4 review, the Touch Id works great. It's lightning-fast and super responsive, making it easy to unlock and authenticate all at once.
Tapping your Apple Watch's power button twice already brings up your Wallet; imagine double tapping and already being authenticated for your purchase in a flash. It would be great.
Better battery life
Yes. Yes. A million times, yes. 2021 may be the year that Apple finally gets rid of the dinky 20-24 hours charging cycle we've all become accustomed to on the Apple Watch.
Patently Apple found a patent for a Battery band which would host extra battery power inside an Apple Watch band. This would be a great solution to Apple Watch's battery problems. Bands are easily swappable, and many people have different bands to use for various activities already, so giving people the option to increase the battery life would likely be popular.
Stress monitoring/mental health features
When the Fitbit Sense launched earlier this year, Fitbit announced some new stress monitoring and mental health management features. I was hopeful that maybe the Apple Watch Series 6 (or watchOS 7) would follow suit; however, that was not the case.
I think it's entirely possible that Apple finally implements mental health management on the Apple Watch in 2021. It would probably mostly come in updates to the software behind the Apple Watch — watchOS — but mental health has been brought to the forefront thanks to the pandemic this year, so it would be super timely for Apple to get on the hot new thing.
Will there be an Apple Watch SE 2?
My inkling is to say no. There won't be an Apple Watch SE 2 in 2021. I think Apple will continue to sell the current Apple Watch SE in 2021 and beyond.
My Apple Watch SE review makes it clear that although the SE uses the processor from the Apple Watch Series 5, it in no way is slow or anywhere close to showing its age. Much like the iPhone SE, the Apple Watch SE will be a solid option for people who want to save a little money and don't mind missing out on a few high-end features for a few years to come.
Apple Watch in 2021: Unrealistic wishlist
While taking a look at the future of the Apple Watch in a practical sense is smart and sensible, I also have some dreams for the Apple Watch that are a bit on the unrealistic wishlist. Let's take a wild ride for a few minutes and talk about some of the things I want from the Apple Watch in 2021.
My perfect Apple Watch would only need to be charged about once a week. I'm not entirely sure how Apple could make that happen, but I'm open to anything. A larger version of the Apple Watch to squeeze a bigger battery in, a battery band (which we talked about above), or perhaps a super battery saving mode you can turn on that only allows you to track your fitness and turns off all smartwatch features. Anything that Apple can do to increase the Apple Watch's battery life in 2021 should be considered!
Round design Apple Watch
This may not be the most outlandish thing to wish for; after all, a circular Apple Watch has been rumored and given fan concept designs in the past, but it still seems unlikely. watchOS would need some significant changes to work on both a square and round design, and I don't know if Apple is ready to make that jump. Still, it would be really cool to see an upgrade to the Apple Watch's design language since it remains mainly the same since its inception.
Free from the iPhone shackles
It's time to let the Apple Watch stand on its own and allow people to use it independently of an iPhone. With Fitness+ launching and requiring an Appel Watch to use the service, it would be nice if Apple allowed the Appel Watch not to be shackled to the iPhone.
Maybe, as long as you have one other Apple device, your Apple Watch can roam free. Pair the Apple Watch with your Apple TV, let the Watch receive updates that way, or let people pair it with an iPad and be done with it. The Apple Watch is a fantastic fitness and all-around health tracker, and it seems a shame to only limited that to people with iPhones.
What do you want on the Apple Watch in 2021?
Are there new features you're dying to come to the Apple Watch in 2021? Let us know in the comments down below.
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.