A report from Fast Company on Friday claims a future model of the Apple Watch will boast solid state buttons that won’t actually click, but will instead use Apple’s Taptic Engine to provide haptic feedback to users.
Apple will stick with the Watch’s current button configuration, with a button and a digital crown situated on one side of the device, but neither will physically click as before. Rather than reacting to the user’s touch by physically moving back and forth, the new buttons will vibrate slightly under the fingertip, using the haptic effect Apple calls the Taptic Engine. (The digital crown will still physically rotate to navigate through content.)
Apple uses a similar solid state button design on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 which provide feedback from the Taptic Engine to mimic a Home button press. A similar setup is used in the trackpads on the MacBook and MacBook Pro.
Fast Company’s source, who is said to have direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, says the new buttons could be part of new Apple Watches that will debut this fall, or, may be destined for the 2019 Watch.
The ultimate design target for Apple is said to be no buttons at all on the Apple Watch:
Longer-term, Apple’s industrial design group has been working toward a future Watch that has no buttons at all. Rather, specific areas on the side of the device would respond to finger touches. That direction would be in line with the company’s long-held desire to streamline physical features out of its devices altogether, as seen in the elimination of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and the home button in the iPhone X.
As always, reports like these are all merely a rumor until an official announcement is made, so keep your salt shakers handy.