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The Apple Watch Series 8 may bid the Digital Crown goodbye

The Apple Watch Series 8 may bid the Digital Crown goodbye

An Apple patent filed in 2018 and recently made available to the public shows that the company may be developing a replacement for the Digital Crown on the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8.

The Digital Crown is the dial on the side of Apple Watches that allows for navigation without touching the watch screen. It has been a feature on every Apple Watch series since launch. And frankly, we can’t imagine life without it.

The optical sensor would replace the Digital Crown, as shown here on the right side edge.
Credit: Screenshot: US Patent and Trademark Office

Instead of the Digital Crown, the patent shows blueprints for optical sensors on the side of the watch, which would allow for gesture controls rather than physical contact. Presumably, the user could swipe or make other finger gestures on the sensor instead of the screen, and that would move through navigation on the screen.

Side by side drawings of Apple Watch from patent filing, shows a finger swiping on the new optical sensor on right side.

Instead of rotating the Digital Crown, users would swipe on the sensor on the right edge.
Credit: Screenshot: US Patent and Trademark Office

The optical sensor appears much flatter than the existing Digital Crown, perhaps creating the flat-edge design that was rumored to appear on the Apple Watch Series 7 but didn’t come to fruition. The optical sensor would also take up less space, allowing for features like a bigger battery or additional health monitoring sensors, like the rumored blood glucose reader and blood pressure monitor.

Of course, this is all only based on a patent filing; Apple files plenty of patents that never seem to see the light of day. The Apple Watch Series 8 is expected to debut in September 2022, so we’re still a ways away. Still, the thought of losing the Digital Crown has us shaking in our boots. Some of us still just like a physical navigation controller, OK?

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