Apple Watch could gain video camera in 2016, report says

The second generation of Apple's wearable could also wean itself more fully from the iPhone, according to 9to5Mac.

The next version of the Apple Watch could have a lot more going for it, according to a new report.

Prices for the Apple Watch range from $349 for the basic Sport version to $17,000 for the top-of-the-line gold edition. Sarah Tew/CNET

New features being considered for the second generation of the Apple Watch -- which wouldn't arrive until 2016 -- include a video camera and a wireless chip allowing greater independence from the iPhone, 9to5Mac said Thursday, citing "multiple sources familiar with Apple's plans." The company may also offer additional premium-priced models, the report said.

A notable omission from the purported slate of coming attractions: better battery life.

The debut versions of the Apple Watch first went on sale in April, making a splashy entry into a market already crowded with smartwatches from companies ranging from Samsung and LG to Motorola, Huawei and Pebble. Prices for the Apple Watch -- the company's first foray into wearables -- range from $349 for the basic Sport version to $17,000 for the top-of-the-line gold edition.

Apple has so far declined to say how well its smartwatch is selling, but research firm Slice Intelligence estimates that the company has sold nearly 2.8 million to date.

In March, market researcher Strategy Analytics predicted that Apple would ship 15.4 million Apple Watch units this year, compared with 12.7 million units for all other smartwatch makers combined.

The Apple Watch, like other smartwatches, has its limitations. In the case of Apple, an iPhone 5 or later is required to run basic apps, receive notifications, and make and receive calls. It also features specialized fitness software and unique notification systems like the mini-slide "Glances."

The current models had been available only for ordering online, but just became available to purchase in Apple retail stores Wednesday with a "reserve-and-pickup" service.

Earlier this month, Apple unveiled a new version of the smartwatch's operating system, WatchOS, with improvements including apps that run natively on the device and more customization options. Those apps will run directly on the Watch, which increases performance and allows them to perform better when not paired with an iPhone. That update is launching in the fall.

The next generation of the Apple Watch, according to 9to5Mac, could well feature a video camera embedded on the top bezel, which would allow wearers to use FaceTime, Apple's video-chatting software, to make and receive video calls from their wrist.

Meanwhile, under an initiative internally called "tether-less," Apple plans for the second-generation wearable to integrate a new wireless chipset that will improve basic communication tasks, like texting and emailing, without help from an iPhone.

The smartwatch's many functions and bells and whistles eat up a lot of battery life, but Apple has decided the roughly daylong lifespan would carry over to the second generation, according to 9to5Mac's sources.

Apple may also be looking at new versions of the watch that could fit into a wide gap in the lineup's pricing scheme between $1,000 and $10,000. Those potential models, 9to5Mac said, may use material such as titanium, tungsten or palladium.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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