Enlarge / Buttons on the flank of an Apple Watch Series 3.
FastCompany today published a report citing "a source with direct knowledge" of Apple's plans for a future Apple Watch that will feature touch buttons at the Apple Watch. solid state instead of the clickable ones that are currently part of the device.
This will apply to both the crown and the single traditional button that displays a view of currently open applications. But the configuration of the buttons – which buttons exist and where they are – will not change, says the report. The user will be able to touch each button to save it, but instead of the buttons that move up and down, the device will give the user a haptic feedback by using the tapped Apple engine.
Apple made a similar change to the home button on the iPhone from the iPhone 7. Reactions were mixed, critics who found that very well to critics who found it undesirable . Even before that, the company did the same with the MacBook trackpads, although this implementation offered better localized feedback.
The trackpads are surprisingly good for emulating the feeling of a physical button. The watch already has the motor function tapped; it is used to give feedback with tactile interactions. According to this report, the tapping would also be extended to the buttons.
The source told FastCompany that the change would be made to free up more space in the device for other components. This would also help with water resistance. Apple would also work on the addition of new biometric sensors to the buttons.
Apple's famous (or infamous, for some) has a long history of minimizing or ditching physical pimples as much as possible. The company has been firm in its commitment to having only one button on its mouse for the Mac. The current Apple mouse is touch sensitive, but it presses like a button. Each side can be pressed for right or left click, but both sides can not be activated at the same time. It's really just a button.
The change could come either from a new Apple Watch release this year (probably in September), or from a release next year.