The Apple Watch is rather like the original iPhone: a flawed, frustrating hint of what’s to come rather than a fully evolved product. The release of watchOS 2 made it better, but it’s a work in progress.
The second generation is likely to be announced in late spring. It should address some, but not all, of the current Watch’s failings: we would expect a faster processor and more reliable apps, though not significantly improved battery life or a radically redesigned case. Apple is more likely to expand the range of cases and straps, possibly including cheaper options and a range of premium metals for more affluent customers, than to go back to the drawing board. That doesn’t mean it won’t change at all – a slightly thinner, more waterproof Watch with improved sensors is likely – but we think any changes will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. A thinner screen to make room for more battery? Sure. A round Watch? Don’t hold your breath.
The biggest problem with the original Watch is its dependence on the iPhone; even with native apps running on the Watch, which was enabled in watchOS 2, the Watch loses most of its powers when it can’t connect to your phone. A built-in LTE radio is unlikely, but the ability to connect to Wi-Fi networks without requiring an iPhone would be a valuable new feature. That would also enable Find My Watch, and if it’s teamed with a small front-facing camera it would enable FaceTime video calling from anywhere your Watch can find a Wi-Fi connection.
The most tantalising rumour is support for Smart Straps, watch straps that add extra functionality. That’s something Pebble smartwatches offer, with straps adding extra battery power, notification LEDs or extra sensors. Imagine the ecosystem that could create.