Apple Watch Series 4 is expected to feature hardware changes that extend to the externals of the device. According to Fast Company, which is quoting a source with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, the new device will feature side buttons similar to that of iPhone 8, meaning they will not physically move but rather react to user’s press by vibrating slightly. The buttons will take advantage of the device’s Taptic Engine.
The device will feature the same button configuration as the previous models though and have a digital crown and a side button. In fact even though the digital crown won’t move physically when pressed, it will still allow users to scroll through the content with clock and anti-clockwise rotation.
Having solid-state buttons like these have several benefits for the Watch. One of which is adding more water resistance to the device as opposed to physical buttons. They will also use less space on the device, leaving more space for other components in the tiny Apple Watch body.
The report goes further detailing how Apple plans to use this freed up space. According to the report, Apple will be using the top of the buttons as sensors to gather health data including heart rhythms.
While this or next year’s model will have solid-state buttons if this report is to be believed, Apple’s long-term goal is set to be to design an Apple Watch that has no buttons at all. Instead add touch input in specific areas on the sides of the device.