When Apple Watch Series 8 arrives this fall, it may cement Apple’s focus on health features for the wearable.
According to Mark Gurman from Bloomberg in his latest Power On newsletter, a series of new health aspects are planned for Apple Watch, though not all will land this year. There will also be some cool upgrades and, again, they may arrive in time for Series 8.
Here’s what we think so far.
Even the very first Apple Watch had a heart rate monitor. It was included not so for health tracking but so that Apple could more accurately measure calorie burn than rival devices that based this on your height and step length and so on.
But since then, Apple has added ECG measurement, blood oxygen levels and notifications if your heart rate is suddenly unexpectedly high or low. It also monitors Cardio Fitness.
When you take an ECG it tells you whether it can spot signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Gurman predicts that Afib burden detection will be coming, perhaps as soon as this year, which will monitor just how often the user is in a state of atrial fibrillation.
Other health features will follow, but not just yet. For instance, it’s thought that Apple is working on blood pressure for Apple Watch. Currently, that’s available on wearables like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, or the Aktiia blood pressure bracelet. Both require monthly calibration with a standalone blood pressure cuff—Aktiia helpfully supplies one with the bracelet. But Apple may feel that’s not an elegant enough solution.
Huawei has created a smartwatch that has a wristband that inflates so its blood pressure readings don’t require separate calibration. But the watch looks clunkier, especially the strap. Gurman thinks 2024 or the following year is likely for blood pressure monitoring.
This is another holy grail for health tracking, non-invasive blood glucose monitoring. But, as Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO and passionate advocate for Apple Watch told me, it’s not easy. Talking to me in 2019, Williams said, “Non-invasive sensing of the human body is incredibly challenging. You mention glucose, people have been talking about non-invasive glucose sensing for decades. I read every year that somebody has a non-invasive glucose sensing monitor ready. And what I’ll tell you is, it’s hard enough to detect glucose when you can access the interstitial fluid, it’s way harder to do it with photons.”
Not yet then, by the sound of it.
This is a useful metric, helping measure stress or improve sleep tracking understanding, for instance. This could arrive this year, Gurman thinks, and it could be very exciting, depending on Apple’s plans for it.
This is very cool. If you’re in a place where there’s no cellular connection, as you very well might be if you’ve gone for a hike, for instance, then you can’t contact anyone, right? With this upgrade, users will be able to send short text messages and SOS alerts to emergency services, even without cell coverage.
Low Power Mode
Right now, if the Watch’s battery is low, the low-power mode just shows the time. Which, after all, is the bare minimum for a watch. But it’s thought that some apps could work while low-power mode is activated, providing greater usefulness as the Watch battery was becoming depleted.
Apple Fitness+ shows no signs of slowing down, with Time to Run and Pilates among the most recent additions to the service. Additionally, Apple frequently adds new workouts that the Watch can measure, so you rarely need to choose Other as your workout choice. With each new named workout, accuracy increases.
New Watch faces
Series 7 introduced a noticeably larger display and some new faces were added, alongside others which were optimized for the bigger real estate. The same is likely to happen this fall for Series 8.
Other health benefits
Gurman also predicts that the iPhone Health app may add new sleep tracking, women’s health features and medication tracking, all doubtless integrated with its most intimate gadget, the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch Series 8 is still months away. Check back for more details as we have them.