A newly spotted patent application filed by Apple suggests that the Apple Watch 2 may benefit from several new gestures when it is released. Apple will be looking to spruce up the next generation smartwatch ahead of a release that is expected to come in the second half of 2016, after the original Apple Watch received something of a lukewarm reception.
Apple Watch quandary
There are two possible ways of looking at the release of the original Apple Watch. On the one hand, it cannot be described as the most successful of Apple device releases, considering that many consumers have struggled to find a specific use for the device, and the general perception is that smartwatches have yet to establish themselves as a valid mainstream niche. On the other hand, the Apple Watch already dominates 95 percent of the smartwatch marketplace, and Apple could deem this to be a rather good foundation for building the brand in the future.
With this in mind, it seems that the corporation has been working on instilling new functionality in the Apple Watch 2, at least according to the patent application in question. It should be noted that Apple frequently patents technology that either never sees the light of day, or takes many years to be introduced to it range of devices, so we cannot be 100 percent certain that this will indeed become part of the Apple Watch 2 portfolio.
However, the patent suggests that pointing, waving and even extending the pinky finger and thumb in a ‘phone me’ gesture could be utilized to initiate actions on the Apple Watch 2, and even collaborating iPhone units. This fits into the general ethos of Apple, with the corporation attempting to make its devices more convenient and even fun to utilize lately. The 3D Touch system that was included in the iPhone range last year was certainly a step in this direction, and it seems Apple will attempt to replicate this approach with the Apple Watch 2.
Apple Watch 2 – Gesture control
While voice and touch input can be an effective way to control a device, data included in the patent suggests that there may be situations where the user’s ability to speak the verbal command or perform the touch gesture may be limited. So it will be interesting to see how this works in reality, but Apple must surely look to include this new gesture functionality in the Apple Watch 2 if it is to significantly move the smartwatch on from last year’s release.
The new technology has the ability to detect the motion and gesture input of a user via the hand, arm and wrist and fingers. The text of the patent indicates that this will serve the purpose of providing commands to the device or other connected devices, and that any Apple device which is compatible with this technology will be able to interpret the gesture as an input command, and ultimately carry out an appropriate operation. The patent also give numerous illustrative examples of such gestures.
So we know that Apple Watch 2 users that turn their hands palm-down and make patting gestures will be able to decline incoming phone calls, while lifting or dropping the palm of one’s hand upwards could raise or lower the speaker volume. Waving at one’s hands sideways in front of the body will serve the purpose of turning a page in an e-book, and there are numerous other gesture-related commands available according to the text that has been discovered by Patently Apple.
One of the most interesting aspects of this technology is that it seemingly intends to make the Apple Watch 2 easier to utilize for disabled persons. The patent application depicts an individual using sign language, and notes that the attached iPhone has the ability to recognize the signs made, and ultimately convert them into spoken or written language. Apple believes that the wearable device will ultimately have the ability to utilize a wide variety of sensors in order to interpret and detect gestures, and it seems that this is a feature that could grow over the years as the Apple Watch range develops.
The patent goes on to describe how several optical sensors, inertial sensors, mechanical contact sensors, and myoelectric sensors will have the ability to detect various movements of the body of a user. And, furthermore, it is implied by the text that other sensors could be included in the future. It will be interesting to see how accurately the Apple Watch 2 can detect and interpret gestures, as obviously it will be rather embarrassing for Apple if this is not implemented successfully. But the corporation deservedly has an outstanding record of producing extremely sleek and functional software and hardware.
Nonetheless, the complexity of this particular functionality should not be underestimated, and considering the relatively short timeframe until the release of the Apple Watch 2, at least according to rumors and leaks, there is no guarantee that this will ultimately appear in the Apple Watch 2. Apple may be forced to delay this technology somewhat, and instead implement it in future Apple Watch generations. However, it is clearly the sort of feature set that would suit the smartwatch contender, and it will be interesting to see when Apple releases the Apple Watch 2, and indeed what it unveils at that time.
WatchOS 2.2 released
Apple is clearly already contemplating its next moves with the Apple Watch range, as the corporation updated the operating system for the existing Apple Watch just two weeks ago. The launch of watchOS 2.2 is a step forward in the smartwatch range, but it is certain that Apple will need to deliver something outstanding when the second iteration of the Apple Watch finally arrives.
The company is also treading on eggshells with the Apple Watch 2 to a certain extent, as it has to, on the one hand deliver something that will attract new consumers, and on the other ensure that existing Apple Watch customers are not alienated. The Apple Watch must remain a product with a viable shelf-life, while also delivering exciting and fresh features in new watch releases. Not an easy task by any means, and Apple fans will be intrigued to see how the corporation solves this later this year.