In brief: Apple has been granted a patent that could pave the way for Cupertino to add a camera to future versions of its Apple Watch. The patent describes a couple of interesting implementations including one with a camera lens mounted on the side of the rotatable digital crown. In this configuration, the wearer would simply point their hand at the scene they want to photograph.

Users could also remove the watch housing from the band for increased flexibility when shooting.

Another illustration highlights how a rear-mounted camera could work. In this arrangement, a release mechanism would separate the watch housing from the band and allow the user to take pictures with a camera mounted on the back of the watch. An LED could serve as a flash to illuminate dark scenes, the patent notes.

In both configurations, the front screen of the Apple Watch would act as a digital viewfinder and display to review captured images.

Smartwatches with integrated cameras aren't a new idea but existing offerings haven't gained much traction. Privacy is still a real concern, and both quality issues and redundancy have also been barriers. Apple is the market leader in the smartwatch category and if they can nail the implementation without it feeling too gimmicky, future Apple Watches could be even more desirable. If nothing else, it's better than the bulky Wristcam band.

The patent was only granted this week, so it's unlikely that any of these new features will make it into the upcoming Series 8 expected this fall.

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