Apple Watch 6 may drop this iconic feature

(Image credit: Future)

The Apple Watch Series 6 could drop one of the most iconic features of Apple's flagship smartwatch, if a new patent is any indication. Discovered by Patently Apple, this new invention would allow for an optical sensor on the side of a future Apple Watch, which could mean the death of the device's signature Digital Crown.

The images within the patent depict an Apple Watch with a right-facing sensor that's flush with the watch face. That would be a major departure from the Apple Watch's current Digital Crown, which protrudes out of the right side and acts as the device's home button while allowing for a variety of navigation gestures.

According to the patent, this design would reduce the number of moving parts in future Apple Watches, and would allow the company to more effectively utilize the space found on the watch chassis. This could lead to an Apple Watch Series 6 (or a later Apple Watch) that has a slightly sleeker and slimmer design, while potentially reducing accidental inputs from your clothing or workout activity. 

The patent also notes that this optical sensor could detect things such as motion, speed and acceleration, which could lead to a future Apple Watch with hands-off motion gesture controls in the vein of Pixel 4's Motion Sense feature.

As with any Apple patent, there's no guarantee that this feature will come to the rumored Apple Watch 6 later this year, or any Apple Watch at all. We expect Apple's next flagship smartwatch to be unveiled alongside the iPhone 12 in September, so look for more smartwatch rumors to surface before then.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.