Apple Watch Series 7: Tim Cook hints at “mind-blowing” future features

Rumours predict new display tech, new sensors, Touch ID and a new design too

Apple Watch
(Image credit: Apple)

If you think the Apple Watch Series 6 is pretty clever, you ain’t seen nothing yet. That’s according to Tim Cook, who says “we’ve got things going on in our labs that are mind blowing”.

The Apple CEO was speaking on Michael Roberts’ Outside podcast, where he told the host that “if you sort of zoom out to the future and you ask, what has Apple’s greatest contribution been? It will be in the health area, the wellness-and health area.” 

In terms of the Apple Watch, “there’s a ton of innovation left to go in there” – not just in terms of additional sensors, but in the information that can be gleaned from them. Cook used a baseball analogy: “We are in the early innings… think about the amount of sensors in your car. And arguably, your body is much more important than your car.”

Apple Watch 7: more health tech

The Apple Watch Series 6 added blood oxygen monitoring to the sensor mix, and that’s expected to have regulatory approval by the time the Series 7 launches: for now, the Series 6 feature is for “wellness”, not medical monitoring. 

According to patents described by MacWorld, Apple intends to add blood pressure monitoring and continuous (rather than intermittent) heart rate monitoring. Blood pressure monitoring will require additional sensors, but not an inflatable cuff, mercifully. 

Display upgrades and battery boosts

It’s very early to judge the solidity of Apple Watch 7 rumours, but with the first micro-LED displays on sale now (and with a microLED TV coming from Samsung in 2021) the prospect of the Series 7 Apple Watch having micro-LED isn’t far-fetched. 

This technology is an alternative to the OLED screen used currently, and should deliver better battery life and a thinner displays, which chime with another prediction from industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo says that the 2021 Apple Watch, the Series 7, will get a “significant form factor change”. 

That change may also add Touch ID for more convenient verification and extra-secure Apple Pay; competing rumours suggest that it could be either under the display or in the Digital Crown. The iPad Air (2020) has Touch ID in its sleep/wake button, so the latter sounds more likely at the moment, though we're skeptical of this one – there's nothing really wrong with the way Apple Watch already does verification, so it'd be a bunch of new tech for not a lot of benefit (unless the aim is to make the Watch even more of a standalone device).

The big picture for Apple and tech

In addition to teasing the next Apple Watch and selling Apple’s Fitness+, Cook also had some interesting things to say about tech firms’ place in the wider world. He spoke about Apple’s donation of protective equipment and its design for a COVID-protective visor, its commitment to battling climate change by making more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral choices, and its responsibility to be a force for good in the world.

“We have the responsibility of how the product is used, not just to throw something out there and see how it’s used and see what the implications of it are,” Cook said. “But everybody doesn’t have that frame of mind, unfortunately.”

Certain other tech CEOs might have felt their ears burning when Cook added: “some of the big issues that are surrounding tech today are the lack of responsibility taken on a platform about what happens… you can be a great amplifier of misinformation, of violence, of a lot of different things out there. We don’t want to be a part of any of this. We don’t want to be part of the hate at all.”

The podcast is available on all the usual platforms and there’s a full transcript on its website here.