While the focus of new Apple Watch models is usually extra features and tools, the hardware can't be forgotten either, and it sounds like the Apple Watch 7 might bring some changes to the smartwatch's crown.
This comes from an Apple patent (opens in new tab) granted on March 30, as spotted by PatentlyApple (opens in new tab), which goes into detail about the Apple Watch crown, as well as a few other things.
It's worth pointing out that the patent doesn't mention which Apple Watch these changes might come to, so our pick of the seventh-generation model is just a guess, since that's the next one. Patents don't always materialize into actual products either, so take this under advisement for now.
To summarize lots of jargon, it sounds like the Apple Watch described in the patent could get some big crown upgrades - it could get a sensor that works in collaboration with the Apple Watch electrocardiogram (ECG) feature to measure your heart rate.
This ECG feature is the big one - the patent describes how, when you wear the watch on a wrist and push the crown with a finger from your other hand, the device will compare the signals from these two different body parts to accurately understand heart rhythm.
This would give you more accurate information than just using the Apple Watch on your wrist, and the patent also alludes to using this as a full ECG and not just to measure rhythm, though this mention is brief.
There's also reference to haptic feedback, so the crown (or whole watch) could shudder or vibrate to let you know a certain function has been activated, similar to your phone shaking slightly when you type.
As we've said, patents don't always make their way to devices, so we'll have to see if Apple does opt to use this heart-rhythm-tracking technique for future smartwatches. The Apple Watch 7 is the next one expected, coming in late 2021.