Rumors point to a ‘rugged’ Apple Watch in the works

New reports indicate Apple is considering a Watch variant for "extreme" sports.

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Although most Apple Watch announcements usually drop in the fall, the rumor mill is already churning for what’s in store for the wearable’s next update. A possibility floating around the internet this week? A new “rugged” edition specially built for more intensive outdoor activities and extreme sports.

First reported by Bloomberg, the new rough-and-ready Apple Watch could include features like a rubberized exterior casing useful “for environments where the current aluminum, titanium and stainless steel cases might be prone to damage,” along with “new swim-tracking features.” Don’t start lacing your hiking boots just yet, though. Even if true, the “rugged” Apple Watch isn’t expected to hit stores until at least late 2021, if not sometime in 2022.

Tripling down on the “active” angle — If proven true, the new rugged Watch series would further cement Apple’s decision to focus on highlighting its wearable as a fitness, health, and activity aid more than any other features. Last year’s (iffy) blood oxygenation sensor is perhaps the most dramatic example, but since the line’s debut in 2015, Apple has continually paid more attention to Watch’s lifestyle possibilities than its uses in conjunction with other products like iPhones and MacBooks. So, unlike other rumors floating around from time to time, a rugged Watch series for the most active Apple clientele certainly would match with the company’s recent marketing trends.

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Most recent Watch changes have been internal — The Apple Watch 6 dropped last fall (and it’s really over-the-top, by the way), so most new features have come in the form of watchOS and iOS upgrades since then. Last month, iOS 14.5 introduced a number of new features, including a two-factor authentication variation to better handle Face ID issues due to COVID-19 face masks, as well as PS5 and Xbox Series X controller support. Perhaps the most impactful, however, came in the form of the ability to turn off all in-device tracking measures. February also saw the release of a limited edition “Black Unity” Series 6 Watch, band, and watch face, but those sorts of cosmetic updates are more to encourage late adopters than in the middle of the release cycle than anything else.

Nothing confirmed by Apple just yet — Of course, as with any Apple rumor, it’s always important to take these reports with a pinch of salt, as there have been plenty of promised devices and features over the years that never actually make it to store shelves. That said, it appears very likely consumers will see the unveiling of a new line of iPad Pros next month. Don’t try rugged activities with those, though, and definitely don’t go strapping one to your wrist.