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Apple Watch Blood Oxygen Monitoring Feature Found in iOS 14 Code

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is working on a new Apple Watch feature that detects blood oxygen levels, according to newly discovered code snippets in iOS 14 (via 9to5Mac).


Blood oxygen saturation naturally fluctuates throughout the day, but large variations can be linked to health issues. For example, 95-100 percent oxygen in the blood is considered normal, but a drop below that percentage could be a sign of a serious respiratory or cardiac problem.

At the center of Apple's new feature is a new health notification based on blood oxygen levels - when Apple Watch blood oxygen saturation drops below a certain threshold, the wearer is alerted, just like existing heart rate notifications.

Apple holds patents for blood oxygen monitoring, and early prototypes of the first Apple Watch featured sensors that measured blood oxygen monitoring among other biometrics, but many of these functions never made it into the final product because of consistency issues.

When the original ?Apple Watch? was released back in 2015, iFixit actually discovered that Apple's heart sensors have the capability to monitor blood oxygen levels, but Apple has never activated it.

It remains to be seen whether the latest incarnation of the feature will rely on new hardware in the Apple Watch Series 6 or if it will come as a software update as part of watchOS 7, both of which are expected to arrive this year. Rumors persist that sleep tracking will also be included in the next Apple Watch model.

Other smartwatch and fitness tracker makers including Google-owned Fitbit already offer blood oxygen monitoring features in some of their devices, so Apple is playing catch-up in this regard, but that could mean the company has a more advanced implementation of the feature in the works.

Article Link: Apple Watch Blood Oxygen Monitoring Feature Found in iOS 14 Code
 

jcswim312

macrumors regular
Mar 25, 2008
152
598
Boston, Massachusetts
I read about this feature in Engadget last night:


Nice that they are adding this - I have the Series 5 Apple Watch so it would be great if they could add this feature in WatchOS 7
 
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MareLuce

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2010
814
304
Very timely feature given that (”I’ve read...”) the Coronavirus sympton progression is
- fever
- dry cough

- Or dry cough, sore throat, then fever)

Then, if it gets to your lungs and you need more intensive care ASAP, the symptom is

- lower pulse oxygenation

What is ”lower” ?
When I was caring for my Dad a while back, his Dr told me
1) a good pulse ox was 98%.
2) Anything under 95% is cause for concern

In lieu of this feature in the current (Series 5) Apple Watch, I bought an extra Innovo pulse oximeter (~$25) so that I’d know if things are heading south quickly. (I’m sure there are other good brands. That was the one I researched several years ago...)

Repeat: Above content related to Coronavirus is what I’ve read in major news articles quoting infectious disease doctors. I’m not an infectious disease MD. It’s always good to do your own research.
 
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PostApple2016BrainWash

macrumors 6502
Nov 11, 2019
467
178
Are you serious??? Really? ? Tons of people want this! This is one of the reasons I have used Fitbit for years and still haven’t gone to Apple Watch! If they implemented this, I’d buy it right away!!

I don't think many people are going to wear it for sleep due to the thickness. Using your clothes might be the right way of analyzing sleep behavior.
 
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57004

Cancelled
Aug 18, 2005
1,022
338
As a sleep apnea with CPAP patient this would be really nice to have!! Right now the doctor makes me wear this 'loaner' SpO2 monitor one every few months, that is huge & chunky and of questionable hygiene (it looks like it's been around the block many times). It would also allow me to monitor this every night as opposed to once every few months in a spot-check.

But I have an Android phone... I hope Samsung will make this too in their watches (or even better, that Apple make their watch work with Android phones). My Samsung phone has SpO2 metering in fact, but not my watch (and the phone feature is obviously useless while sleeping as you have to touch the sensor :) ). Having an Android phone and an Apple watch would be the ideal combo IMO.

Switching to iOS is not an option unfortunately as I use several features on the Android platform that are not available on iOS (In particular NFC with interactive smartcards and DeX desktop mode). The smartcards I need every day so I can't switch unless Apple really opens up NFC and the apps catch up with this.
 
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neuropsychguy

macrumors 65816
Sep 29, 2008
1,406
2,366
I just bought a Series 5. :( Please tell me this feature can be added to a Series 5 with an OS update. ?
It can be added to a Series 5 with an OS update. Apple Watches have had the hardware to measure it for years. The problem is accuracy. If Google/Fitbit are now doing it, it looks like accuracy is reliable enough now that Apple is willing to implement it.
 
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GalileoSeven

macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2015
324
468
The more features like this Apple keeps adding, the more I've considered getting one. Might look into a Series 5 when the new ones (Series 6?) come out in the fall.
 
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Loxen88

macrumors newbie
Dec 12, 2017
23
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I'm waiting for apple to release a mini apple watch with no display and a primary focus on health tracking.
 
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PickUrPoison

macrumors G3
Sep 12, 2017
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Sunnyvale, CA
It can be added to a Series 5 with an OS update. Apple Watches have had the hardware to measure it for years. The problem is accuracy. If Google/Fitbit are now doing it, it looks like accuracy is reliable enough now that Apple is willing to implement it.
Not necessarily. The feature may require a new sensor or other hardware in the upcoming Series 6.
 
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lusty

macrumors newbie
Dec 17, 2019
18
17
Not necessarily. The feature may require a new sensor or other hardware in the upcoming Series 6.
Indeed, from a quick Google the Watch uses green LEDs for the HR sensor while PulseOx requires red. Maybe they have red in there, but I couldn't see any reference to this. Polar and Garmin have had this for a long time so the technology is well understood now. Well enough, in fact, for Apple to invent it this year ;)
 
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Sasparilla

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
1,514
2,444
I just bought a Series 5. :( Please tell me this feature can be added to a Series 5 with an OS update. ?

It would probably be instructive to look at past history and see if Apple rolls out new features to their prior years products or if they only have them on new products. Seems to be mostly the latter.
 
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patent10021

macrumors 68040
Apr 23, 2004
3,135
528
And in Japan you will have to wait years to get heart rate sensor approval. Idiocracy. They have to pay the same price for watches even though the main feature is blocked. Talk about a rip-off. Should really be illegal to sell at the same prices.
 
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tdar

macrumors 65816
Jun 23, 2003
1,389
965
Alpharetta GA.
It's quite illogical and stupid to wear a watch or iWatch for analyzing sleep behavior.
Actually it's not. I have been doing it for years now and it reports my sleep very well and is an important part of my health management.
[automerge]1583759580[/automerge]
Sp02 monitoring is the one thing that I felt was missing to make the iWatch a complete product IMO.
Let's hope this feature becomes available and I hope it can measure blood/oxygen levels accurately.
I am looking forward to seeing this.
I agree. One thing that never seems to be considered is that because of the watch\phone infrastructure having SpO2 data is not just available for the built in "hey it's low" function. As is done with the heart rate data ,third party apps are doing amazing things with the watch data. I believe that the same would be true pulse OX. As a asthmatic-full time SpO2 data in a tracking app would be life changing for me.
 
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