The Apple Watch is the world’s most popular smartwatch — here are the 5 features we want to see next

  • The Apple Watch accounted for half of global smartwatch sales in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Strategy Analytics.
  • But the watch still lags behind other devices when it comes to a few key areas.
  • Here are the features we’d like to see on the next Apple Watch.

Apple has maintained its leading position when it comes to the smartwatch market, as a recent report from Strategy Analytics indicates.

The iPhone maker accounted for 50.7% of the global smartwatch market in the fourth quarter of 2018, while Samsung owned 13.2% of the market and Fitbit was responsible for 12.7%. Global smartwatch sales hit a record 18 million units during that quarter, an annual increase of 56%.

Apple may be the leader in the space, but there are still a few areas where the Apple Watch falls behind its rivals. Although Apple has added several improvements to the watch in recent year that make it a top-notch fitness tracker, it’s still not quite as comprehensive as Fitbit’s wearables, for example.

If history is any indication of what’s in store for 2019, we can expect to see a new and improved version of Apple’s smartwatch debut during its annual iPhone event in September. Apple has introduced a new Apple Watch every September since 2016 after unveiling its first Apple Watch during that month in 2014, which it released the following spring.

Little has been reported about what Apple may be planning for upcoming watch models, but a recent report from Bloomberg suggests that sleep tracking could arrive in 2020. The usually reliable Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities also suggests a new ceramic casing for Apple’s watch could come in 2019.

Here’s a look at some of the features we’d like to see Apple add to the Apple Watch in 2019 and beyond.

1. Sleep tracking


Last year, the Apple Watch received a major upgrade when it comes to health tracking: The newest Series 4 model features an electrical heart rate sensor capable of taking an electrocardiogram, meaning it can detect signs of Atrial Fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke and other heart-related complications.

The company’s latest software update for the Apple Watch also brought new health-oriented features, like new yoga and hiking workout options.

But while the Apple Watch can tell you a lot about your daily activity, it still can’t track sleep natively, though there are third-party apps that track sleep. Fitbit, on the other hand, can not only track metrics like how long you’ve slept and the number of times you’ve woken up during the night, but it can also detect specific sleep stages like deep, light, and REM.

Apple is said to be testing this feature internally and hopes to have it ready to launch in 2020, according to Bloomberg.

2. Longer battery life

The Fitbit Versa Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

To function as an efficient sleep tracker, you need to be able to wear the Apple Watch overnight on a regular basis instead of charging it while you sleep. The current Apple Watch’s battery life just isn’t there yet.

As it stands right now, I can typically get around two full days out of my Apple Watch Series 3, and reviews of theSeries 4 indicate similar battery life. When I reviewed the Fitbit Versa last year, I was able to wear it for roughly four days without charging it.

3. Always-on display


Samsung’s smartphones have long-offered an always-on display option, and it would be a very useful feature to have on the Apple Watch.

Right now, there are a few ways to activate the display on Apple’s wearable: by raising your wrist slightly and tilting it toward your face, by tapping the display, or by rolling the digital crown upwards. These mechanisms usually work reliably in my experience, but it would be even more convenient to glance down at my wrist without having to move it or touch the watch when I want to see the time.

4. iPhone battery status


It’s already possible to check the battery status of your connected AirPods on the Apple Watch, but you still can’t see how much juice your iPhone has without using a third-party app.

I’d love to be able to see if my iPhone resting on its wireless charger in the other room has a full battery straight from my wrist without having to go retrieve it. Considering Apple makes it possible to see the battery life of your connected Apple devices on the iPhone through the battery widget, being able to do so on the Apple Watch feels like a natural addition.

5. Third-party watch faces


When it comes to smartwatch apps, Apple certainly offers more variety than Fitbit. But Fitbit allows developers to create clock faces that anyone can download to the watch, resulting in a variety of designs that cater to specific interests.

The selection of watch faces for the Apple Watch, comparatively, is updated and expanded at Apple’s discretion. (Apple also does make it possible for information from third-party apps to appear on certain watch faces through Complications).