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Why the Apple Watch 5 needs to make 4 key changes to maintain its lead

How can the best smartwatch on the market be improved even further? Here are our top five suggestions for features on the Apple Watch Series 5.

We rated the Apple Watch Series 4 very highly indeed, describing it as the best smartwatch we’ve ever used, thanks to its gorgeous display, unrivalled variety of apps and features, and its encouraging fitness motivations.

But there is room for improvement with the next generation, which is likely to be unveiled alongside the iPhone 11 on September 10.

Related: Best smartwatch • Apple Watch 5 review

1. Native Sleep Tracking

It’s very useful to be able to keep an eye on the amount and quality of your sleep, with some apps capable of giving you advice on lifestyle changes to improve your slumber — invaluable for insomniacs.

Sleep tracking is already available on a wide array of wearables across different price ranges, so it’s shocking that the Apple Watch has not yet embraced it.

Apple does often wait to iron out any kinks before adopting a feature — as was the case with the ECG in the Apple Watch Series 4 — so there’s hope yet.

2. Always-On Display

At the risk of courting controversy, I believe that the main function of a watch is to tell the time.

While the Apple Watch has a plethora of ingenious features, it still lags behind traditional analogue watches on this score simply because the display goes into standby mode when it’s not in use, showing an uninformative black square.

Again, many fitness trackers and smartwatches have a readable display when they’re not being used. It’s not much to ask for, and we think it’s high time Apple offered this option to customers.

 3. Charging Changes

Our last two requests rely on wishful thinking rather than cold calculation. For months, Apple had teased the launch of AirPower, a charging mat that could juice up your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously.

The project has now been abandoned, but the Apple Watch experience would be improved immensely with better charging support, since it can be a pain to remember to take the proprietary charger with you everywhere, and your watch is only good for one day without it.

We’d reluctantly settle for reversible charging support on the iPhone 11, so that you can use it to charge up your watch (just as you can with the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus). Fortunately, the latest rumours indicate that this feature is indeed likely to be on the way.

4. Android Support

We’d love it if you could use the Apple Watch in conjunction with an Android smartphone, but this suggestion is right at the bottom of our wishlist for good reason: it’s very unlikely to happen.

Clearly Apple wants to encourage its customers to stay within its orchard, but we think technology improves for everyone when customers have more choice.

With this change, Apple Watch sales would be likely to shoot up which could in turn provide the kick necessary to liven up the lethargic WearOS market; and if Android users become familiar with Apple’s software through their watch, they might be more likely to make the switch over to an iPhone. But don’t hold your breath on this one.

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