We were a little skeptical (and sarcastic) when we heard that Apple was trying out a feature in iOS 9.3 and watchOS 2.2 that will let Apple Watch owners pair multiple devices to one iPhone, but some new details have us rethinking our position.
The feature, reportedly called “Auto Switch,” does exactly that, and based on what we’ve heard, it could very well not just be for developers.
Auto Switch only works on devices running both beta versions of watchOS 2.2 and iOS 9.3, and it reportedly creates a list within the Apple Watch app of all of the wearables you’ve paired. The “auto” part comes in when you go to swap one out: Your phone automatically selects which device it’s using as soon as you strap it on and wake it up. It apparently also includes thumbnails of your different Apple Watches so that you can even try out different complications and faces for each one.
We weren’t sure that the multi-pairing feature was going to make it out of the beta since it made way more sense to us that it was for developer use only. We assumed that the feature would help streamline developers’ work on apps for multiple sizes, models, and even hardware types. But considering the new reports, including the suggestion that Apple even bothered to name the thing, it sounds like the company does, in fact, expect that people will own more than one Apple Watch.
What’s more, we can imagine ways that this could actually be useful. It does mean that if the next iteration of Apple Watch does, in fact, launch in the next few months, current owners won’t have as much reason to get rid of the ones they have now. And let’s face it: If you’re going to pay at least $350 for a watch, you might want to wear it longer than a year.
We assume many users will plan on selling or trading in their originals to help with the cost of the new model, but it could also be a convenient way to have multiple colors and styles at your disposal. And that’s especially true if the Apple Watch gets a price drop alongside the release of the new version.