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The Apple Watch Series 6 requires a new version of old functions

Illustration for article titled Apple Watch Series 6 Needs a New Version of Old Features

photo:: Caitlin McGarry / Gizmodo

There are a good chance that Apple will drop its next-generation Series 6 smartwatch during the company’s Tuesday event. We already know a lot about what’s coming on Apple Watch this fall watchOS 7 Software upgrade, but a few things are still a mystery. The most whispered over rumor While the Series 6 may not have many hardware updates, it is likely that blood oxygen levels will be monitored.

Cool! And I’m not saying that sarcastically. There are many uses for blood oxygen monitoring that go well with Apple’s attempts to develop a useful health device. It’s just that blood oxygen monitoring is nothing new in wearables.

To freshen up, Fitbit added SpO2 sensors – the red LEDs that measure blood oxygen levels Ionic Smartwatch in 2017. Subsequent Fitbits also included the sensors, although it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that Fitbit finally introduced an Estimated Blood Oxygen Variation feature that uses this metric. Garmin trackers and watches also have these sensors that you can use to calculate your “body battery” or how well you are charged between workouts. Polar has also built the sensors into some of its wearables, and earlier this summer Samsung launched a blood oxygen monitoring app for its products Galaxy Watch 3.

Apple haters love to ridicule that competing platforms had a specific function a few years before Apple introduced it. (Just check out the comments in our yearly WWDC kill Blog as evidence of that.) But when it comes to monitoring blood oxygen, it’s a point to consider. If an SpO2 sensor really makes it into Series 6, it has to impress with something very special.

That is not out of the realm of possibility. Heart rate monitoring has been around for ages when Apple decided to blow everyone else’s pants off by introducing an EKG feature, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Series 4. This is a move that Fitbit and Samsung are only catching up with so far. two years later. Will Apple coolly announce that it has received FDA clearance to diagnose sleep apnea, a Fitbit thing? actively aim at? Who knows, but if any company could make this kind of dramatic reveal, it would be Apple.

Another thing that is at last The coming to the Apple Watch is native sleep tracking. But as we do in ours watchOS 7 previewApple’s sleep tracking is pretty simple. While this seems intentional, it’s a little disappointing as several other trackers and smartwatches out there provide very detailed breakdowns of your sleep stages and sleep trends over time. When using the watchOS beta, we found that sleep tracking drains the battery by around 20% overnight and requires you to make adjustments to your charging plan. This isn’t exactly an outrageous claim, and a lot of Apple Watch aficionados I’ve spoken to don’t really care about charging their watches every day. But if Gizmodo commenters are any indication of it, the one-day battery life is a major reason some people didn’t get on the Apple Watch train.

That’s fair, considering Fitbits manages to give you advanced sleep metrics while staying for nearly a week for a fee. The multi-day battery life is also something Garmin and Polar figured out, and even budget smartwatches like Timex’s Metropolitan R. take longer than 24 hours.

Illustration for article titled Apple Watch Series 6 Needs a New Version of Old Features

photo:: Caitlin McGarry / Gizmodo

Do not get me wrong. It’s exciting that sleep tracking is coming to the Apple Watch, and in fairness Apple’s MO is only supposed to roll out a feature if the company feels it can do it. S.It was widely rumored that leep tracking would be introduced with the Series 5 last year, but Apple waited until this year to roll out the feature. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple kept sleep tracking up to date for now, as more tracking would have required performance elsewhere.

Whether it’s fair or not, everyone expects Apple to lead the way when it comes to health features for wearables for consumers. The company has done this in a number of ways: from diagnosing atrial fibrillation to getting started own clinical studies in reproductive health, heart health, and hearing. And maybe it’s Apple’s own fault, but since the Series 3, it has outdone itself by adding significant changes to each subsequent watch (and adding huge improvements with every watchOS upgrade). The Series 3 added LTE. The Series 4 improved the display and added EKG readings as well as Afib warnings. The Series 5 came with a revamped health and activity app as well as an always-on display, period tracking, and noise level monitoring. If the Series 6 simply adds sensors that we have seen in other devices, it will be a disappointment, unless those sensors allow for more meaningful metrics or diagnostic tools. In any case, we probably won’t have to wait long to find out.

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