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article imageFaster Apple Watch 2 is coming later this year with new features

By James Walker     Aug 8, 2016 in Technology
Apple is planning to launch a heavily-upgraded Apple Watch 2 later this year, according to a credible new report. The wearable will sport a faster processor, built-in GPS and improved waterproofing, addressing key weaknesses of the current model.
The information comes from respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. Kuo has leaked accurate details of unreleased Apple products several times before. In an investors note passed to news sites AppleInsider and MacRumours over the weekend, the analyst revealed Apple is planning to launch two new versions of the Apple Watch in the second half of the year.
The Apple Watch 2 will be the most interesting of the two, an anticipated hardware revision of the Apple Watch with substantially improved internals. Most notably, the processor will be a faster TSMC-manufactured chip. Combined with the introduction of native apps that run directly on the Watch, the second-generation wearable should offer a significantly smoother experience than its predecessor.
Waterproofing will be "slightly improved" to make the Watch more tolerant to intensive exercise. The addition of a barometer will allow health apps to begin accurately tracking changes in altitude, extending the wearable's role as a fitness accessory.
GPS support will further this, enabling the Watch to identify its location without being connected to an iPhone. This puts it in line with other smartwatches, such as Samsung's Gear series and the LG G Watch, that can operate independently of the smartphone they're paired with.
The second of the two devices Apple intends to launch in the fall will be an upgraded Apple Watch 1. This will have the new processor found in the Watch 2 but none of the other new features. Apple is apparently updating the original Watch to offer it as a lower-cost alternative. Some consumers are likely to view it as a "watered-down" second-generation device though, potentially hurting sales of the new model by lowering the value of the new processor.
The Apple Watch 2 will lack one major change. Kuo expects it to use the same design as the current model with only minor alterations. This will make the new Watch comparable to an "S" release in the iPhone's upgrade cycle, a year in which the internals are improved but the exterior is reused.
Beyond the next six months, Kuo expects next year's Apple Watch release to include LTE, giving the wearable more independence from the iPhone. Users will be able to access cellular data on the go without needing their phone in their pocket. Then, in 2018, Apple will launch a new design, introducing a substantial aesthetic overhaul to attract new customers.
Kuo hasn't stated firm dates for when Apple will launch the Apple Watch 2. The company is currently rumoured to be hosting an event for the iPhone 7 on September 16 though. It would make sense for the new wearables to be introduced on the same day, since they will be marketed as companion devices to the new iPhone.
That would lead to a launch in just over a month, leaving Apple with little time left to make any more changes. Kuo's leaked details could well turn out to be correct, making the Apple Watch 2 a more powerful, but still not redesigned, second-generation wearable.
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