Future Apple Watch features may change depending on the type of smart band attached

Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11652509 B1) for a “band identifier system” for the Apple Watch. It would a smartwatch/smart band combo to automatically alter certain features.

About the patent

In the patent Apple notes that a variety of wearable electronic devices, including smart watches, have been developed that include components to provide a variety of functions. For example, some wearable electronic devices include one or more sensors to measure various characteristics of the user and/or the environment in which the device operates. 

Such devices may include a display to indicate the time, date, or other device features. The devices may also include accelerometers and one or more sensors that enable a user to track fitness activities and health-related characteristics, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, among other information. 

The devices also typically include a rechargeable battery that powers the electronics within the device, and a mechanical strap or band for securing the device to a user. 

Apple’s idea is for future Apple Watch bands to be equipped with near-field communications (NFC) features that allow an Apple Watch to uniquely identify and/or obtain other information from a band that is coupled to a main body of the device without requiring a power source to be provided in the band. 

Upon identification of a particular band, some components and features of the Apple Watch could change. For example, the color palette or theme of displayed content can be changed, without user input, to match one or more colors of an identified band. 

In another example, upon identification of a fitness band, a fitness application or a fitness related home screen can be displayed by the wearable electronic device. In another example, upon identification of or removal of a swim band, water protection features such as water purging features of the device can be activated.

The band identification systems and methods described herein may also facilitate identification of authorized and/or unauthorized bands for a wearable electronic device. For example, Apple says that third party bands may be unauthorized bands that are advertised for use with a particular wearable electronic device, but may not properly secure to the device, which can cause a risk of damage to the device. 

Upon determination that a band that is coupled to the device is not an authorized band, a warning may be provided using an output component of the device, and/or one or more features of the device may be disabled or otherwise modified.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Wearable electronic devices, such as smart watches, can be provided with a band for securing the device to a wearer. The device and the band can include near-field communications (NFC) components that allow the device to uniquely identify the band. Device operations such as the color, theme, or content displayed on the device can be based, in part, on the identification of a particular band. The band may include a miniature NFC tag in an attachment portion of the band that is configured to be received in a recess in a housing of the device. 

“An NFC module for reading the NFC tag can be provided within the recess of the housing, so that the attachment portion of the band and the recess in the device housing position and align the NFC tag with the NFC module when the band is attached to the device.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.