November 9, 2017 UPDATE: Fans of smartwatches are eagerly awaiting any news on the Apple Watch Series 4, and a recent software release may give us an interesting insight into the forthcoming device. The latest watchOS 4.1 update has recently gone live, and some of the features included in this software iteration could provide us with clues to the fourth Apple Watch release.

Apple Watch Series 4
Image source: Apple

New music

Firstly, a new radio system will let Apple Watch users benefit from custom Apple music stations, with the most obvious example being the highly publicized Beats 1. This is indicative of the music focus that Apple has implemented over the last couple of years, and this is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

Another update of particular relevance to the Apple Watch Series 4 is the ability to access music tracks more easily with Siri. An increasing amount of functionality is being built into the personal assistant, and this is indicative of the fact that Apple will hope to improve its AI system for the Apple Watch Series 4 release.

And the new app also allows direct LTE streaming of music to compatible Apple Watch models, something that will definitely be expanded further still when the Apple Watch Series 4 is released. With Wi-Fi and cellular access now available to the 40 million tracks held on Apple music, the smartwatch certainly provides a credible music playback system.

Health links

Another interesting item of news which also gives indication of the future direction of the Apple Watch Series 4 relates to health tracking. Aetna, the massive health insurer, is handy out over 500,000 Apple Watch units to customers, in an initiative that aims to strengthen its health partnership with Apple.

While health tracking already being a significant focus of the Apple Watch range, it is believed that the Apple Watch Series 4 will build on this significantly. The major innovation of the third-generation Apple Watch was the inclusion of LTE, which seriously improved the functionality of the smartwatch. Apple must find something new to headline the fourth generation smartwatch, and it is believed that health tracking could be this item.

Control Center improvements

It is also suggested that the Control Center may get a makeover for the Apple Watch Series 4, with a special version of the software feature released for the smartwatch. What precisely this entails remains to be seen, but sources close to the Apple supply chain have suggested that the consumer electronics giant is already working on this aspect of the watchOS software.

Apple has undoubtedly strengthened its position in the smartwatch marketplace with recent releases, and the Apple Watch Series 4 will be the defining smartwatch release of another niche that Apple has come to dominate.

November 2, 2017 UPDATE – The Apple Watch Series 4 could benefit from the Face ID technology which has become a fixture in the iPhone range. This is the opinion of renowned KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo, who is also known for particularly specializing in Apple products.

Touch ID to go

Although Apple has offered its explicit support for Touch ID for the foreseeable future, this system is also expected to be ditched in the coming years. Indeed, Apple executives have indicated that the future direction of the corporation is towards making Face ID ubiquitous.

Apple Watch Series 4
StockSnap / Pixabay

Touch ID has featured on every smartphone since the iPhone 5S, but its days may be numbered, as Kuo indicates that the Apple Watch Series 4 will benefit from Face ID functionality.

“We believe this change will allow all new models to realize a competitive advantage via differentiation, on the back of an integrated user experience of full-screen design and TrueDepth Camera/Facial recognition/Face ID/AR applications,” Kuo commented in an investor note.

However, despite the prediction of this credible source, it is important to note that Apple will face technical problems in introducing Face ID to its smartwatch series. This would require the Apple Watch Series 4 to include an on-board camera, something that hasn’t occurred in the previous versions of the device.

Convenient unlocking

Nonetheless, Face ID would obviously be a useful addition to the armory of the Apple Watch range, enabling users to unlock the smartwatch in the most convenient and natural way. If Face ID was included then it would only be necessary to glance at one’s watch in order to unlock it.

One of the key indicators regarding the Apple Watch Series 4 will be the watchOS 5 operating system. This is expected to launch ahead of the release of the Apple Watch Series 4, which will most likely be in September 2018. The latest Apple Watch launched alongside the iPhone 8, and there is no particular reason to believe that the situation will change next year.

Apple Watch Edition

With mobile data and standalone calling having been included in the last Apple Watch release, we can reasonably expect the Apple Watch Series 4 to be somewhat more conservative. Additionally, Apple is expected to follow the pricing policy that it has instigated over the last Apple Watch generation, meaning that the once extravagant Apple Watch Edition version of the smartwatch will be conspicuous by its absence, replaced by a much more affordable model around the $1,000 mark.

Originally, the Apple Watch Edition had been seen as a rival for luxury brands suck as Rolex, but the smartwatch has now settled into a different branding position. Today, the Apple Watch is viewed as a product for young people, with a a fitness-tracking ethos as its core.

The Apple Watch Series 4 will move the smartwatch series forward further still after the Apple Watch 3 was well received. Certainly the Apple Watch has become the world’s most recognizable smartwatch extremely rapidly; nothing new for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) considering its power and influence in the technology sphere.

Apple Watch Series 4
Image By Sheeraz Raza

But in common with most devices in the world of gadgets, the Apple Watch 3 is far from perfect, meaning that the Apple Watch Series 4 still has significant room for improvement. Many consumers will recognize the value of improving this smartwatch, as it currently does a great deal extremely well, yet still lacks a view key areas of functionality.

Release date

Firstly, we can probably expect the Apple Watch Series 4 to be released in September 2018. Although the Apple Watch release schedule has been less consistent than other Apple products, there is no reason to believe that it will be brought out any earlier than this year’s effort. It is probable that the Apple Watch Series 4 will be announced at the iPhone 9 unveiling event, ahead of a similar release date.

Price

It is likely that Apple will freeze the price of the Apple Watch Series 4 from the current generation, meaning that the smartwatch will retail at $329 in the United States. This price tag is for the small 38mm version of the wristwatch, with other models also available.

Having said that, consumers should be wary of the fact that the Apple Watch 3 was released a lower price point than the Apple Watch 2, so with extra features also embedded in the fourth generation it would not be hugely surprising if there was a mild price increase.

Self-adjusting strap

One of the key features being linked with the Apple Watch Series 4 is a self-adjusting strap that would make the smartwatch a more convenient device. Indeed, Apple has already patented this technology, which features an expanding mechanism which has the potential to contract the strap as required.

This would not only improve the comfort of the smartwatch, but also help ensure that sensors on the watch are able to acquire accurate readings for some of its key features. This would correlate neatly with another patent that is in the public domain for an Apple wearable device that has the ability to measure your respiration rate.

Circular face

Apple has also previously patented a smartwatch design featuring a circular face, and it wouldn’t be hugely surprising if this saw the light of day with the Apple Watch Series 4 release. A circular face certainly seems more natural for a watch, even if the Apple Watch design is now easily recognizable all over the world.

However, Apple has shown absolutely no intention to alter the design of it smartwatch thus far, and is notorious for producing large number of patents that never actually appear in products.

Apple Watch Series 4 features

Many of the features from the Apple Watch will undoubtedly be retained when the Apple Watch Series 4 is released. This, we can expect LTE connectivity, GPS, a heart rate monitor, a waterproof build and a premium construction with a square screen. It is probable that even if Apple does introduce an Apple Watch with a circular face in the Series IV generation that the square design will also be retained as a purchasing option.

It is also probable that the Apple Watch Series 4 will be made available in the two sizes that were included in the apple what’s three release. This, I expect 38 mm and 42 mm Apple Watched series for devices to be made available, while the Apple Pay contactless payment system will also make an appearance once more.

This all adds up to another powerful smartwatch Contender, but what new features will also be included?

Chipset

Firstly, Apple will include a new S for chipset in the Apple Watch Series 4, which will ensure that the smartwatch is a more powerful performer. It is also likely hat the Apple Watch 4 will run watchOS 5, Although Apple has yet to even begin working on this software system.

Android compatibility

Some sources have suggested that the Apple Watch Series 4 could deliver Android compatibility in order to make it a more flexible performer. This would be somewhat surprising considering that Apple has never exactly been enthusiastic about opening up its own operating system, let alone enabling its products to be compatible with other OS releases.

Battery life of Apple Watch Series 4

However, one area where Apple is likely to be beavering away is the battery life of the Apple Watch Series 4, which must surely be improved over the previous generation of the smartwatch. While the Apple Watch certainly had a better battery life than the earlier releases in the range, it still runs out of charge rather rapidly. Surely a wristwatch needs to last for three days at least on a single charge.

Apple Watch Series 4’s improved performance

While the Apple Watch 3 is an improvement on previous releases, it is still not quite as slick as many consumers would wish. Loading applications on the smartwatch can be a little sluggish, and the next-generation release must surely address this to make the Apple Watch Series 4 a more convenient device.

Whether the specs of the Apple Watch Series 4 could be increased in order to achieve this remains to be seen, but a little extra RAM and processing power certainly wouldn’t go amiss.