Apple Watch patents hint at new hardware buttons, camera incoming

Two new patents from Apple reveal some potential new features that could land on the Apple Watch in the future: a camera and a couple extra buttons.

The two patents, published Thursday and first seen by Patently Apple, aren’t actually focused around cameras and new buttons, but the illustrations used to show the device designs include them.

Apple Watch camera

The patent that mentions the camera is focused on mobile device and smartwatch interaction, specifically with sharing and using location data. There is no illustration of the camera, but it’s called out in one of the system outlines along with a description in the patent text.

A camera component was included in Apple’s new patent for a different smartwatch feature.

Image: Apple/United States Patent & Trademark Office

The patent describes the camera on the edge of the Apple Watch “oriented to allow a user to capture images of nearby objects in the environment such as a bar code or QR code.”

It continues, saying the camera could be on the front surface of the wearable, “To capture images of the user.”

The language of the patent doesn’t limit the Apple Watch camera just still photos; it mentions that it could be used to capture videos, too.

Of course, none of this means the next Apple Watch will have a camera on it, but its inclusion in the patent certainly hints its top of mind. As some companies experiment with replacing passwords for facial recognition, a smartwatch with a built-in camera makes even more sense.

Apple Watch buttons

Mysterious new Apple Watch buttons are also included in illustrations for a patent describing the functionality of the turning crown button currently on the side of the Apple Watch.

The current design only includes the crown button and another button on the right side of the wearable, while the new patent includes two additional buttons on the left side of the Apple Watch.

Illustrations of the Apple Watch in a new patent show two new buttons on the left side.

Image: Apple/United States Patent and trademark office

The buttons aren’t described as having any specific function, but could be either physical buttons that you press or touch-sensitive buttons.

The current Apple Watch design with only two buttons.

Image: apple

Again, these buttons may not actually be included in the design of an upcoming Apple Watch, but if you combine both new patents, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a camera-specific button.

For now, though, all we can do is speculate and wait.

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