Apple is reportedly planning to make a change to the Apple Watch, according to Fast Company: a future version might replace its physical button for a solid-state one that provides haptic feedback, much like the updated home button introduced in the iPhone 7 a couple of years ago.
Fast Company cites a “source with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans,” saying that the company will keep the same configuration of buttons, but that it won’t physically move, relying instead on Apple’s Taptic Engine to react to a user’s touch. The report also says that the digital crown will still physically move to scroll.
Apple switched things up in 2015 with its MacBook Pro’s Force Touch Trackpad and with its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 2016. Both devices removed physical moving parts and replaced them with surfaces that replicated the feel of a click when pressed using the Taptic Engine. The MacBook Pro’s trackpad and iPhone’s buttons took a little getting used to, but swapping out the physical button means that the devices have one less thing that can physically break. It also helped Apple make the iPhone water resistant. The same logic seems to be at play here, especially as Apple has worked to make the Apple Watch water resistant to appeal to swimmers and athletes. The removal of the button could also help free up some space for a slightly larger battery, thus giving it more operating time.
It’s not clear when the change will occur: Apple traditionally announces new hardware in the fall, and Fast Company’s source says that it could be part of that lineup — but if not, it could come in 2019.