WWDC wish list: What to expect for Apple Watch and Apple TV

Apple Watch
Apple Watch. Image: Apple

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10 June 2016 | 0

Last year was a big one for Apple. The company launched two brand new platforms, watchOS and tvOS, alongside two brand-new devices. The Apple Watch and the fourth-generation Apple TV. We’re not expecting any hardware refreshes to either at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference b Apple might add new features to make them more compelling.

Apple Watch
There have been few details as to what features Apple has baked into watchOS 3. Some possibilities: We hear Siri is gonna be huge at WWDC this year with its long-awaited arrival on the Mac. Apple’s digital assistant is already present on the Apple Watch, but it’s not all that useful. A more responsive version of Siri that supports third party apps would eliminate the need for swiping around the tiny home screen to jump into an app to get things done. A Siri SDK is reportedly coming to iOS, so expanding that to watchOS makes perfect sense, given how linked your iPhone and Apple Watch are.

Apple may rethink the way we interact with watch apps in watchOS 3. Writers for Six Colors and Fast Company both proposed that Apple should do away with traditional apps as we currently experience them on the watch, and beef up Glances and Complications to take their place to reflect how people are actually using the device – to get quick glimpses of information. Giving the Apple Watch’s side button a real purpose would also be a welcome move.

The Apple Watch is perhaps most useful as a fitness tracker. I’m hopeful that automatic exercise-tracking similar to Fitbit’s SmartTrack feature will come to the Apple Watch, so you won’t have to launch the Workout app to start tracking runs. Automatic pausing would also be great, so you don’t have to force press on the watch face to pause a run with sweaty fingers.

It’s also a safe bet that Apple will show off more new Apple Watch bands, including some high-end leather options from Coach

Barring a radical hardware refresh, one way Apple could beef up the watch’s capabilities is with smart watch straps, a la Pebble. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said that one-third of Watch owners regularly swap out their wrist straps, but the company could make the straps more than a fashion accessory. Apple recently filed a patent application for smart bands with modular pieces that would add more functionality to the watch, like GPS and sensors that can measure sweat and blood pressure.

Apple TV
The Apple TV got a major upgrade with the release of tvOS 9.2 this spring, which made the Siri remote more powerful and added features like support for the iOS Remote app. So what could Apple do just a few months later that would make the fourth-gen Apple TV even better? Rumour has it that Apple might use the Apple TV as its voice-controlled home hub, similar to Amazon Echo and Google Home, but that may require more powerful hardware.

Even without new hardware, Apple TV could become a more useful hub with expanded Siri functionality. (Improving Siri’s understanding of commands on the remote would be a good start.) But Siri should also be more tightly integrated with HomeKit, so you can use your Siri remote to control your smart home accessories.

Besides an Amazon Prime Video app, we’d love to see Apple pull off its long-rumoured live TV streaming service. The company has confirmed that it’s creating an original TV show, and rumours have swirled for more than a year that Apple is trying to nail down deals with broadcast networks to stream shows without a cable subscription. But more original shows, especially Netflix-calibre ones, would set the Apple TV apart from other set-top boxes.

Caitlin McGarry, IDG News Service

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