The Apple Watch Series 6 rumor mill has officially gone into overdrive mode, and we seem to be getting a clearer picture of what’s coming both on the Series 6 and watchOS 7.
A range of features are incoming, both hardware and software, but all feeding into making the Series 6 an even better sports and wellness device – building on the new features debuted on the Series 5.
The most eye-catching rumour is the addition of stress and panic attack alerts arriving on Apple Watch, which would join abnormal heart rate, afib and fall detection as a suite of preventative features.
Read on for our in-depth look (and analysis) of the latest Series 6 rumors.
Quick look rumoured Apple Watch Series 6 features:
- Stress and panic attack tracking
- Blood oxygen monitoring
- Sleep tracking
- Better battery life
- Kids mode
- New Apple Watch Kids Edition
- Improved waterproofing
- Touch ID
- New tachymeter watch face
- Watch face sharing
Stress and panic attack detection
EverythingApplePro reports (video) details from XDA Developers’ Max Weinbach who states the the Apple Watch would monitor for the physical signs of a panic attack, and offer guided breathing and advice for the user to get those symptoms under control.
Moreover, it would track these in Apple Health and try to learn the symptoms and patterns that precede anxiety attacks.
Weinbach states that this would work much like the high heart rate notifications on the Apple Watch users would be able to look back through events and also “manually specific symptoms associates with attacks to increase the accuracy.”
We’d also love to see stress tracked in Apple Health, alongside physical metrics like steps and heart rate – building on what the likes of Garmin has done on its recent wellness devices like the Vivosmart 4.
Likelihood: 5/10 – but sounds like a Series 7 feature. Stress could be a really insightful new health metric that a lot of people would benefit from, and it’s being used on rivals.
Blood oxygen and sleep tracking
9to5Mac has also claimed a blood oxygen sensor could make an appearance on Series 6. This would be a new metric tracked in Apple Health, and could aTlso feed into sleep apnea detection.
iFixIt teardowns have previously shown that an SpO2 sensor has been included in Apple Watch models, so this maybe just need to be enabled in watchOS 7 – much like Fitbit has done with the Charge 3 and Fitbit Versa.
We’d imagine that blood oxygen tracking would be released alongside native sleep tracking, which would be a first for the Apple Watch – and probably the biggest rumor (and missing feature) for the Series 6. This has been the subject of conjecture for a few generations, and is certainly a gaping hole in the feature set of the Apple Watch – which is currently filled by third party sleep tracking apps.
Bloomberg has stated that sleep tracking will be exclusive to 2020 Apple Watch, and not be available on older devices, which may point to new hardware.
Likelihood: 8/10 – the tech is in place and it’s about time Apple caught up,
New S6 chip heralds battery life improvements
Sleep tracking would require a significant improvement in battery life. Apple has made great strides in battery life, but has repeatedly sunk that into features to maintain a reliable 24 hours – even under heavy strain.
The answer could be a brand new S6 chip debuting on the Series 6, which EverythingApplePro says will welcome a completely new design.
It’s possible the S6 chip will yield the battery life improvements necessary – or offload sleep tracking to a different part of the architecture.
Likelihood: 7/10 – S6 chip is a no-brainer, and it fits the bill for how Apple could deliver new features.
Apple Watch Kids mode (and Watch?)
9to5Mac originally revealed that an Apple Watch kids mode would debut on watchOS 7 – but we now have more colour here.
The proposed Apple Watch Kids Mode would enable an iPhone to pair to multiple Apple Watch devices, which in turn can be limited to offer select calling to trusted contacts, and even schedule Schooltime when features could be limited.
However, newer rumors from 9to5Mac point to Kids Mode using an overhauled version of the fitness rings, making them easier for children to understand. This would be a new health and exercise metric that blends calories and exercise time together, with a redesigned interface.
We have also seem new patents land for a cheaper Apple Watch construction, that uses ceramic and plastic fibres. EverythingApplePro puts two and two together and points to this being an Apple Watch Kids Edition of the smartwatch, that’s cheaper and more accessible.
We’ll go one further: a kids mode that enabled location tracking perhaps using LTE to harness the Find My iPhone feature would be even more interesting .
This would disrupt the pretty mediocre kids GPS watch market, which has suffered with a lack of quality and privacy worries. Apple would be extremely well positioned to take advantage of that.
Likelihood: 6/10 – A possibility for watchOS 7, but a new Watch Edition feels some way off.
Better waterproofing for sports
The rumours also point to improved waterproofing for the Apple Watch Series 6 – and there’s speculation this could be for use during watersports.
High velocity impact from water requires better standards than simple swimming, and there’s rumours this could be seen on the Series 6.
What’s more, EverythingApplePro speculates that Apple would be working on underwater screen tech, which means that it can be used when submerged. That would be a big boost for swimming and water sports – possibly including diving.
Likelihood: 4/10 – Apple would have to go on a limb here to get IPX9 waterproofing
Touch ID for Apple Watch
As we revealed in our rundown of Apple Watch patents, Touch ID could be making an appearance on the Apple Watch, and EverythingApplePro says Apple is working on “bringing TouchID to the digital crown or a screen finger solution.”
It also speculates we may need to wait for the 2021 Series 7. This would nuke the fiddly PIN, but in honesty, we’d rather skip straight to Face ID.
Likelihood: 6/10 – Patents for this are years old, and the PIN security method is dating fast.
New watch faces and tachymeter
According to 9to5Mac rumors, watchOS7 could finally see a loosening of rules around Apple Watch faces.
Rumours point to an Infograph Pro watch face with tachymeter – a dial around the edge that acts as a stopwatch.
What’s more, rumors point to the re-emergence of photo watch faces including ones that draw on communal albums with friends and family.
And, allegedly, Apple Watch users will be able to share watch faces – complications and all – with others.
However, allegedly watchOS 7 won’t be available for the entire range of Apple Watch devices – and Series 2 won’t get the latest operating system.
Likelihood: 7/10 – new watch face features are an easy win in the locked down watchOS experience
Apple Watch Series 6 release date
We’re expecting a new Apple Watch to be announced in September 2020, so watch this space for updates. However, watchOS 7 could get an outing at WWDC in June.
In the mean time, check out our list of upcoming smartwatches.