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Apple Watch might soon get an always-on display mode, reveals patent application

Apple Watch is the world's best-selling wearable device but lacks feature found on competing devices.

  • Published: September 4, 2018 12:12 PM IST
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Apple is set to launch a new generation of iPhone models at an event in Steve Jobs Theater on September 12. Tim Cook and company are expected to announce three new iPhone, updated Apple Watch and iPad Pro at the event.

Ahead of the launch, we have already heard rumors about these upcoming devices. The leaks so far indicate that Apple will launch three iPhone with design similar to that of iPhone X. Two of these models are said to sport OLED display while a cheaper model could offer LCD display. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, is said to run watchOS 5 and feature a bigger display and larger battery. Now, a patent application hints at Apple finally bringing a much sought after feature to its wearable device.

The speculation based on the patent application is that the Cupertino-based iPhone maker might be working on adding always-on mode to the Apple Watch. This has been a much requested feature since the launch of first generation Apple Watch in 2015. While the wearable is called Apple Watch, industry experts have questioned the naming since it does not show the time at all times.

Adding an always-on display is a challenge since it would bring down battery life significantly. For those who use the device extensively, the battery life could come down by at least few hours. At this moment, the Apple Watch can last for anywhere between a full day of use and a day and a half of moderate usage. The competing smartwatches in the market offer battery life status based on whether the always-on display is enabled or disabled. In order to enable always-on mode, Apple will have to switch to OLED panel, which increases the risk of screen burn-in and reducing the lifespan of the device.

The patent application does not describe any method to prevent burn-in but it does offer a solution to compensate for it. Apple describes artificially adjusting the brightness and colors of a particular area of the screen and Apple plans to patent an efficient method of achieving this based on usage patterns.

“Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays–which are becoming a popular choice for computing device displays–can degrade in a non-uniform manner over their lifespans and lead to unwanted color/brightness artifacts. To address this concern, burn-in statistics–which record historical usage information associated with a given OLED display–can be used to artificially adjust the operation of the OLED display to substantially restore visual uniformity throughout its operation. Notably, such burn-in statistics can take the form of a high-resolution, multiple-channel image that consumes a considerable amount of storage space within the computing device in which the OLED display is included. For obvious reasons, this consumption can dissatisfy users as their overall expected amount of available storage space is reduced for seemingly unknown reasons. It is therefore desirable to store the burn-in statistics in a more efficient manner,” the patent application goes on to explain the idea.

While Apple might end up patenting this idea, some Redditors are speculating that Apple is working on an always-on mode. The speculation is based on an older report by Patently Apple, which signals at the implementation of an always-on mode.

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The thread has since turned from speculation about Apple’s plan to a debate platform. There are some arguing that Apple need not add always-on mode since the device already supports raise to wake feature. There are others who argue that you do not always raise to see time and there are instances when you look at the watch from a different angle. People are also complaining that adding always-on mode would make the Apple Watch distracting at night. It is not clear what Apple has in store but always-on mode with option to disable it would be a welcome addition to the best-selling wearable.

  • Published Date: September 4, 2018 12:12 PM IST