Apple Watch 2 Will Be Less Dependent on iPhones

Rumors about the coming big features in the next generation of the Apple Watch are already surfacing, including a FaceTime video camera.

Apple Watch, smartwatches, watchOS 2, wearables

When the second-generation Apple Watch 2 smartwatch is released sometime in 2016, it will include a built-in FaceTime video camera, more independence from accompanying iPhones and additional models at varying price levels.

The original Apple Watch, which went on sale April 24, hasn't even been available to consumers for two months and already the rumors about an updated and upgraded replacement version are circulating, which probably is just fine with Apple's bean counters.

Among the rumored new features are an HD video camera on the front of the watch, as well as the ability to receive and send texts, emails or app updates without having to be tethered to an accompanying iPhone, which would give the Watch more independence for users, according to a June 16 report by Forbes. The front video camera would allow Watch wearers to video conference with other users.

The increased iPhone independence would be made possible due to a new WiFi-enabled chipset, which will also offer a "find my watch" feature, according to Forbes.

What Apple won't necessarily improve in the next Apple Watch is the device's battery life, the story said, because the company's research has shown that users appear to be satisfied with having to charge the device each night. Apple is, however, reportedly working on power and battery tweaks so that new features don't cause the existing battery pack to run down more quickly, the report continued.

Other rumors about a next-gen Apple Watch indicate that the company is looking at the creation of additional watch models priced in between its cheapest $249 devices and its midrange $549 watches, according to reports.

Part of the impetus for the Apple Watch 2 rumors coming so quickly is likely related to Apple's own announcements at its June Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) about a coming redesigned operating system for the current device. The new watchOS 2 software will be available in the fall and will bring new features and options as well as new tools to allow developers to add even more future functions.

Apple previewed the upcoming watchOS 2 version at WWDC, where new tools for developers were unveiled, including the ability to build faster, more powerful apps running natively on the Apple Watch. The full watchOS 2 update will introduce a much wider range of improvements and changes, including new watch faces and new communications capabilities in the device's Mail, Friends and Digital Touch apps.

New WatchKit tools give developers access to key hardware like the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine, a heart-rate sensor, an accelerometer and a microphone so they can add features, while new software APIs enable audio and video playback and animation, according to Apple.

Among the new features that will be available to first-generation Apple Watch users when watchOS 2 is released are the ability to turn a favorite photo into a new watch face, as well as the ability to view changing pictures from a favorite photo album every time a user raises his or her wrist. A new Time-Lapse watch face will let users choose from a selection of time-lapse videos shot over 24 hours in iconic locations, including New York City, London and Shanghai.

In May, Apple confirmed reports that some kinds of wrist tattoos can interfere with the sensors on the back of Apple Watches, causing errant watch functions for affected users. Reports of the problems began in late April just after the April 24 release of the first devices, when some users began reporting their experiences online on various Websites.

Apple Watches start at $349 for the Apple Watch Sport version, which is available with a silver or space-gray aluminum body and with wristbands in many colors. The standard Apple Watch starts at $549 for a 38mm-wide version or $599 for a 42mm-wide model. Prices for the 38mm version can rise up to $1,049, while prices for the 42mm model can go up to $1,099, depending on the watchband selected. The regular Apple Watch can be purchased with a fluoroelastomer band or one of three different leather bands.

The company's luxury version of Apple Watch is the Apple Watch Edition, with a price tag of $10,000. The most expensive version of Apple Watch, the 18-karat gold Edition version, is priced at $17,000.