Touch-sensitive physical buttons are rumoured to be coming to the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 3

According to a new report from Fast Company, solid state buttons that don’t move up and down and instead are able to sense the touch of a finger in a contextual way are coming to the next iteration of the Apple Watch,

Fast Company writes that the watch’s current configuration of buttons isn’t going anywhere — including the Digital Crown and side input — but that instead of physically pushing inward, the new Apple Watch will react with a subtle haptic vibration that’s similar to the trackpad featured in the MacBook Pro and MacBook.

This means that the new version of the Apple Watch will feature Apple’s Taptic Engine technology, though Fast Company also notes that the Digital Crown can also still physically rotate.

This shift also draws similarities to the iPhone 7, Apple’s first smartphone to feature a solid-state home button that vibrates when touched. With the move to the iPhone X, Apple nixed its Touch ID fingerprint sensor completely in favour of facial recognition authentication powered by Face ID. It’s expected that future versions of Apple’s iPhone will also feature Face ID.

While touch sensitive buttons make sense in the context of the iPhone or MacBook Pro, given the Apple Watch is worn on the wrist, it’s much easier to accidentally tap buttons by mistake. This means that if there is truth to these rumours, false contextual button input is definitely a concern.

Further, Fast Company reports that Apple is working on utilizing the top of the Apple Watch’s buttons as health-related sensors similar to the heart-rate sensor located on the rear of the smartwatch.

It’s likely that we’ll learn more about the next iteration of Apple’s smartwatch at the company’s Fall hardware event. The Apple Watch Series 3, which includes a version of the smartwatch that’s capable of LTE connectivity, was released back in September of 2017.

Source: Fast Company