Future Features of the Apple Watch

on September 8, 2015

While it may seem like a fruitless effort to predict the future of the Apple Watch, knowing what features existing owners are most interested in could present some clues. This is exactly what the Wristly team and I set out to do with our panel of Apple Watch owners. We have recently published the definitive “State of the Apple Watch” report and I encourage you to check that out for insights on the Apple Watch 1.0 era. This great research is only possible because of opt-in respondents, so if you have an Apple Watch and would love to participate please consider joining. Our goal with our latest survey was to understand what capabilities the Apple Watch doesn’t have today existing owners would like it to have in the future.

We gave our panelists a number of options for new features they would like in the next version of the Apple Watch. Here are their responses.

Ben 1

It turns out the watch’s independence from the iPhone would be quite valuable. This makes sense even with my own use cases – going out to dinner, out to run an errand or to a gathering, the ability to not have to bring my iPhone would be useful. The key to this feature is the option to leave the iPhone at home. Of course, this means the Apple Watch would need its own independent cellular connection. This could impact battery life, add another cellular connection fee, and possibly impact the size of the Watch. Despite this feature, likely still a few years away, it is good to know it is something strongly desired by existing Apple Watch owners.

It also appears existing Watch owners want the Watch to be more waterproof. Apple does not suggest or give a depth rating for submersing (It is IPX7 rated, which covers a depth of up to 1m) the Apple Watch though they indicate splashing with water is ok. So things like showering, running in the rain, etc., are ok but not swimming or fully submersing it. However, many reports have suggested the Apple Watch is much more waterproof than Apple suggests but it does not seem our panel is fully aware of this and is following Apple’s suggestion to not swim or submerge the Apple Watch. Our panel would certainly like to see Apple officially embrace making the Apple Watch much more water resistant, swimming and submersing features included. This suggests many Apple Watch owners simply don’t want to take it off no matter what they are doing.

Rounding out the top three of desired additional capabilities is blood pressure monitoring, contrasting this with something like blood sugar monitoring. Blood pressure is more generally useful in monitoring overall health, fitness, stress levels, and more which makes sense that the general consensus of our panel had this feature in the top three. Monitoring blood pressure from a device like a wrist wearable is still a ways off but advances in sensors are heading in this direction.

Taking pictures from the Apple Watch ranked lowest. We found this interesting, but not terribly shocking. This is one of those features that could be great but very hard to tell at this point. The concept of being able to get a picture of a moment without having to pull your phone out seems compelling. However, the camera on the wrist seems tricky ergonomically as it would need to be on the bottom of the strap in order to see the display well enough to frame the photo. The concept is sound, but it seems this feature is not interesting to our panel.

We also asked some questions of size and performance. Overwhelmingly, our panel wants the Apple Watch to be faster. 80% said this feature was Extremely/Very important. Apple seems to have the size of the Apple Watch about right as only 18% said they would like the Apple Watch larger. A thinner option may also be a reasonable form factor with a majority of our panel saying a thinner watch is somewhat important (40%) or extremely important (26%).

Ben 2

One of the great things about the Wristly research panel is the ability to survey real world Apple Watch owners and track their progress as they become more familiar with the product. While this was a high-level look at some features of interest for version 2.0 of the Watch, discovering what Apple Watch owners want in the future from their Apple Watch will be an ongoing focus of our research.