The Apple Watch has stuck to the same rectangular form factor for generation after generation, with the next iteration fated to go with the same design as well. Things might change in the future though, as the company recently won a patent for a round smartwatch.
The patent doesn’t actually refer to the Apple Watch by name, instead talking about displays with curved edges and how difficult a circular style is to implement. That’s because standard rectangular pixel arrays don’t fit efficiently inside a device with a circular shape. There’s always some area of the screen being wasted.
Apple’s patent overcomes this dilemma by utilizing curved coupling segments in inactive areas to join the pieces together. This would help reduce the area of bottleneck regions. Still, it doesn’t address the fact that rectangular panels are more efficient in terms of displaying information as compared to circular ones.
Perhaps Apple wants to go ahead with this design anyway for aesthetic reasons, as many people still prefer their watches round. It patents plenty of ideas which never come to fruition, but this one might be a little different. As pointed out by Patently Apple, the brand filed for this patent 8 months after the very first Apple Watch made an appearance.
This makes things very interesting, since it means that Apple’s upper management gave its engineers the go-ahead to work on this look even after it had made its rectangular style official. It can’t be considered a rejected design as such.
Maybe Apple wants to keep the idea around just in case it decides to shake things up in the future. This is in fact the second patent related to circular displays which has appeared recently, so there is a serious amount of effort being poured into this.