Apple's next smartwatch won't appear until later in the year, alongside the iPhone 12 range, but that hasn't stopped numerous rumours appearing about it. 

Here's everything we've heard so far about the Apple Watch Series 6, coupled with what we want and expect to see.

What will the next Apple Watch be called?

  • Probably Apple Watch Series 6

Unlike the iPhone, Apple didn't mess around with the Watch naming structure. Since the original was followed by the Apple Watch Series 1, the company has followed with sequential numbers every year.

It is therefore highly likely we can expect this year's watch to be called the Apple Watch Series 6, succeeding 2019's Apple Watch Series 5.

The new watch will be running Apple's watchOS 7, which we'll find more about at the company's virtual developer conference in June. 

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Apple Watch Series 6 release date

  • Predicting 8 September 2019

Apple typically holds its iPhone launch event in September of every year and the next iteration of the Watch is normally announced at the same time.

This launch event normally takes place in the second week of September on a Tuesday. We are therefore placing our money on 8 September 2020 for now, though we expect nothing to be confirmed officially until August 2020. Recent rumours have suggested this event may be delayed due to the current global situation, but that's speculation for now. 

What we want and expect to see on the next Apple Watch

  • Focus on fitness - more advanced features
  • Sleep tracking
  • Improved battery life
  • Smart straps

The Apple Watch Series 4 made some big design changes in terms of display and the Series 5 adopts the same design. The general style and shape remain the same as the original Watch, but the Series 4 and 5 offer a lot more screen in similar footprints.

We're therefore expecting some bigger design changes for the Apple Watch Series 6 given the Series 5 only offered some small updates including an Always On Display and a built-in compass. The Apple Watch has had the same form factor since it was first introduced so we would be surprised to see this change dramatically but you never know.

We also expect more health and fitness features, perhaps taking on the likes of Garmin with more running functions like cadence tracking for example. Garmin also do a great job of enabling users to share their runs or activity so we wouldn't be surprised to see Apple take a leaf out of this book. One rumour that keeps re-emerging is the ability to check your blood oxygen levels, but this would need some new hardware. 

We'd like to see battery improvements to match other smartwatches in the market, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch and we'd also like to see sleep tracking on the Series 6, as well as roaming capabilities. If the rumours are to be believed, sleep tracking is nailed on (as part of watchOS 7) with a sleep goal in the Health app. 

It would also be great to see the Apple Watch unlock more. Rather than just being able to unlock your Mac, perhaps it could act as your office key card too, for example.

Other possibilities could include things like smart straps, third party support for watch faces, a camera and Face ID, though we suspect the latter two are wishful thinking rather than plausible additions, mainly due to lack of space for the sensors.

Apple Watch Series 6 rumours: What's happened?

Here are all the rumours and news so far, surrounding the Apple Watch Series 6.

16 April 2020: Could a future Apple watch detect if you've fallen into a river?

As we've seen from the introduction of heart monitoring features, Apple is keen to make Apple Watch into a device that promotes life. According to an Apple patent, a future device could detect the type of water its in and therefore assess if you've fallen into a river or the sea and then assess your situation. For example, if your watch's GPS assesses you're in deep water it could be set to alert authorities. 

30 March 2020: Blood oxygen level monitor and sleep tracking

Blood oxygen monitoring would require new hardware, but it's possible this could be coming in the Series 6.  Sleep tracking brings in a little problem though because most people charge their Apple Watch overnight. 

We think the feature would have to coincide with enhanced battery life for the watch since the opportunities to charge it would be fewer.

9 March 2020: Apple watch OS 7 features leak

Leaked iOS 14 code revealed some watchOS 7 features that will, of course, come to the Apple Watch 6. There will be a sleep goal in the Apple Health app on an iPhone and a Sleep app for the Watch.

There will also be a new watchface called Infograph Pro with a tachymeter feature plus there will also be a Photos watch face, too. Parents may also be able to manage kids' Apple Watches as well. 

6 February 2020: Digital Crown to get new features

One of the most distinctive things about the Apple Watch is the Digital Crown. Now it could be getting some new features to make it touch or light-sensitive. Certainly Apple would intend for the crown to become more sensitive through these methods, not less. Again, these have been spotted thanks to a patent release.

"The crown may include a light-directing feature configured to direct, onto the image-sensing element, an image of an object in contact with the imaging surface" says the filing. The crown could potentially detect the motion of your finger as you rotate or touch the crown. 

Apple Insider suggests this could mean that the Digital Crown has less physical bulk, therefore, making room within the watch for other components.

30 January 2020: Digital Crown set to be replaced with an optical reader? 

A patent spotted by Patently Apple shows the Apple Watch Digital Crown being replaced by an optical fingerprint reader instead which could then recognise gestures, such as if you were to rotate the virtual crown. 

At present we think it's unlikely that Apple would remove the Digital Crown because it's one of the most distinctive features of the timepiece. But this could happen in a future version of the Apple Watch rather than being for this year, of course. 

11 November 2019: Could Touch ID make its way to the Apple Watch?

Apple filed a patent that turns the Apple Watch screen into a Touch ID sensor. The patent notes that "the display may provide an image or video output for the watch body 100. The display may also provide an input surface for one or more input devices such as a touch sensing device, force-sensing device, temperature sensing device, and/or a fingerprint sensor."

While we're seeing a lot of phones with under-display fingerprint readers now, this move would require quite a step-up in technology because of the diminutive size of the watch.

7 October 2019: Apple's new Sleep app with sleep tracking for Apple Watch users spotted in leak

Twitter user Daniel Marcinkowski spotted the yet-to-be-released Sleep app for the Apple Watch mentioned in an App Store listing. The reference popped up for Apple's pre-installed Alarms app on the Apple Watch.

Marcinkowski shared a screenshot showing an unreleased version of the Alarms app labeled with "Sleep" and a recommendation to "Set your Bedtime and wake up in the Sleep app". It's not clear if this feature might appear before the Series 6, but we'd be surprised if it didn't come to the 2020 model.

Daniel Marcinkowski

5 August 2019: Apple Watch could use in-display fingerprint sensor

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed Apple will introduce an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor into the 2021 iPhone, but he also said the technology could be used in a new Apple Watch too.

Currently, the Apple Watch has no biometric security but an in-display fingerprint sensor would allow it to offer some, without changing the design.

26 February 2019: Apple testing sleep tracking for Watch

Bloomberg reported that Apple was testing sleep tracking technology for its Apple Watch. Though some thought it would arrive on the Series 5, Bloomberg always said it wasn't expected to arrive until 2020 on the Series 6.

16 January 2019: Three big health features rumoured

The Fast Company reported that Apple has hired numerous clinicians and engineers to work on health features for the Apple Watch, which are said to include blood pressure, blood glucose or diabetes management and sleep tracking or science. Given these didn't appear on the Series 5, perhaps they are destined for the Series 6?

8 May 2018: Patent for round Apple Watch approved

A patent for circular screen technology was approved, after being originally filed in January 2016. The filing mentioned wrist wear, leading some to assume a circular Apple Watch was coming.

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