Apple Watch Ultra
A recently spotted patent suggests future Apple Watch could get a new NFC tech Wikimedia Commons

Apple has a reputation for developing useful accessories for its devices, including the iPhones, MacBooks, and the Apple Watch. According to an earlier report, the Cupertino-based tech behemoth is planning to unveil the Apple Watch 9 alongside many other exciting products this year.

In the meantime, the company is sparing no effort to improve the current-generation Apple Watch. As part of this effort, Apple Watch now supports ChatGPT via the watchGPT app, which is available in the App Store. Also, Apple reportedly filed a patent for a colour changing Watch band earlier this year.

The American tech firm has been awarded a new patent. This patent suggests next-gen Apple Watches could not only detect the type of band you're wearing but also automatically change the watch face to match the accessory. For instance, if the wearer uses a Spring Green band with their Apple Watch, the smartwatch's face will automatically change to a pastel hue.

Likewise, if the wearer uses a Deep Red band, the face of their smartwatch will change to a more vibrant shade. On the downside, this upgrade could have a huge catch. The US Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Apple a patent for an Apple Watch-compatible band that adopts NFC tech. This patent filing was originally spotted by Patently Apple.

Apple Watch potential upgrade

The recently spotted patent cites a system that involves the Apple Watch and the attached band interacting with each other via NFC chips. As a result, the smartwatch will be able to perform specific tasks when it is attached to a certain band. Products such as the Nintendo Switch use a similar tech, which detects the colour of the attached Joy-Con controllers and reflects these colours on the system UI.

Likewise, AirPods Max is capable of doing the same thing when connected to an iPhone by displaying the correct colour of the headphones in iOS menus. The feature noted in the patent could further improve this already existing concept since the entire watch face will adjust to match the colour of the band you're wearing. Now, folks at Tom's Guide believe there's a major downside to this Apple Watch upgrade.

The darker side of this potential Apple Watch upgrade

According to a Tom's Guide report, Apple Watch's ability to detect the type of band a wearer has strapped to their wrist could be used in some menacing ways. It is worth noting here that the patent describes that the technology could be used to detect whether you're wearing a genuine Apple band or a third-party band.

As if that weren't enough, the patent suggests a wearer pairing an "authorised band" with their Apple Watch will get a warning via the output component of the watch. Also, the tech will either disable or modify one or more features of the watch since it is coupled with a third-party band. In other words, The company could use this tech to force its consumers to buy only Apple-branded or officially-licensed bands.

The patent tries to justify this restriction by describing it as a "safety measure." The patent notes that an "unauthorised" band or accessory wouldn't have undergone the company's stringent quality checks. Furthermore, the patent suggests a third-party band may not be able to properly secure the smartwatch, resulting in a risk of damage.

Although Apple will probably promote this as a way of protecting users from damaging their steeply-priced wearable, the report says it is a mere excuse to force Apple Watch users to buy only Apple-branded accessories. Nevertheless, it is worth noting this new Apple Watch upgrade is still patent. The company hasn't officially confirmed that its next-gen Apple smartwatches will get this upgrade.

In fact, this purported Apple Watch upgrade may not even see the light of day. Apple and other tech firms file patents for multiple product ideas and software features. However, a considerable number of these patents never amount to anything substantial.