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Alongside new iPhones each year, Apple unveils an updated version of the Apple Watch, introducing new features and improving on existing functionality. We're expecting the sixth-generation Apple Watch in 2020, and we could perhaps see some useful new health tracking functionality.


The most notable new feature we could see in Apple Watch Series 6 models is blood oxygen monitoring, which would allow the Apple Watch to detect and monitor the oxygen levels in the blood. Normal blood oxygen is between 95 and 100 percent, and when blood oxygen levels drop, it can be indicative of a health problem that needs immediate medical attention.

Code in iOS 14 suggests that Apple will provide notifications when blood oxygen levels drop below a healthy threshold, allowing Apple Watch owners to get quick help when affected by a respiratory or cardiac problem. Blood oxygen monitoring would be a useful feature amid the ongoing pandemic, as the virus can cause oxygen levels to drop, and people experiencing reduced oxygen intake need emergency help.

Apple-Watch-Blood-Oxygen-16x9.jpg

We're expecting some new hardware in the Apple Watch Series 6, including a new system-on-a-chip for performance improvements. There may be an improvement in water resistance and improved wireless transmission for faster WiFi and cellular speeds.

We've seen a battery allegedly for the Apple Watch that features a capacity of 303.8mAh, which is not too far off from the 296mAh battery in the Series 5 models, so we're not expecting significant gains in battery life other than what comes through software improvements.

There have been some murky rumors about mental health capabilities that would let the Apple Watch Series 6 detect panic attacks or high levels of stress and provide breathing exercises to calm people down.

If this feature exists, it could rely on heart rate data or it could take into account blood oxygen levels as well as breathing rate to make determinations about stress levels.

New Apple Watch models have always released alongside iPhones in the past, but the 2020 launch dates are unclear given the iPhone delays. Leaker Jon Prosser, who has something of a mixed track record, believes Apple will introduce the Apple Watch via press release next week, well ahead of when new iPhones launch.

Since Apple has never decoupled Apple Watch launches from iPhone launches, it's not clear if this information is accurate, but we don't have long to wait to find out. If an Apple Watch launch doesn't happen next week, Japanese site Mac Otakara believes the Series 6 will be unveiled at an October event alongside the iPhone 12 models.

Apple in late August registered eight new Apple Watch models with the Eurasian Economic Commission, a filing that's required ahead of any new product release. Oftentimes these filings herald an upcoming product launch, so there are definitely new models on the horizon.

For more on what to expect from the Apple Watch Series 6, make sure to check out our roundup.

Article Link: Apple Watch Series 6 Rumors: Blood Oxygen Tracking, Performance Improvements, Faster WiFi and More
 

btrach144

macrumors demi-god
Aug 28, 2015
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Indiana
Really torn on whether or not to upgrade from S5 to S6 this year. Apple watch is still very much an early device and each gen seems to add more features similar to early versions of the iPhone. Of course, after time, the innovations slow down.

Really missing better battery life from the S5. If they improve the battery, maybe I'll update but considering pictures of the S6 battery leaked and showed little difference over S5 battery, I'll probably be disappointed this year.
 
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doboy

macrumors 68040
Jul 6, 2007
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O2 saturation would come in handy to roughly gauge fitness and lung performance over extended exercising. It would be a nice, good-to-know, feature.
I would be surprised to see O2 sat drop significantly from a vigorous excercise without an underlying health problem, but then again I'm not a doctor so...
 
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nordique

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Oct 12, 2014
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The oxygen sat is a big sales gimmick. Very little actual medical benefit to be gained. It’s a neat feature, might be helpful for chronic COPD patients on home O2 or something. For everyone else it’s a feature that is nice and will have significant advertising behind it, but in practical medical terms much less useful than a heart rate sensor or ecg

I think non medical people doesn’t understand how little an O2 sat monitor tells you outside of acute settings, that the advertising is really going to be a big thing here
 
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cmaier

macrumors Penryn
Jul 25, 2007
24,139
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California
Can not believe that my Apple Watch version 1 is still running from the original launch of the watches. I think it is time to upgrade :)
We refer to this as series 0, since “series 1” was actually an update that came after those original watches. (I still have three series 0 sitting around, though only 1 still gets used occasionally).
 
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Apple_Robert

macrumors Penryn
Sep 21, 2012
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In the middle of several books.
O2 saturation would come in handy to roughly gauge fitness and lung performance over extended exercising. It would be a nice, good-to-know, feature.
I agree. It also has plenty of other health related user benefits. The problem is, it is probably going to be an on demand feature like the ECG. And if that is the case, which I believe it will be, many people who could benefit the most from said feature, may often forget to take a on demand reading.

Ideally, I would like to see the SPo2 feature take automated checks at several periods throughout the day and alert the user with a visual and haptic alert if his or her oxygen level falls below 90. And if it were to fall below 80, an automatic count down would commence much like Fall Detection. And if the user does not respond, EMS is alerted and dispatched.


Edited to add: Having test done a consistent times would be beneficial to one’s doctor, in my opinion.
 
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bernoulli

macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2018
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O2 saturation would come in handy to roughly gauge fitness and lung performance over extended exercising. It would be a nice, good-to-know, feature.

As an anaesthesiologist, I would have to disagree with that statement. Oxygen saturation does not gauge fitness or lung performance. Well, not in the way you are thinking. If your oxygen saturation is below 95% regardless of any setting may indicate there could potentially be pathological VQ mismatch.

To gauge performance then you would be looking at more like vo2 max which could actually be estimated using the heart rate ratio without any need of pulse oximetry;
VO2 max ~ hr max/hr rest x 15.3 mls/kg/min
There are also other ways of estimating VO2 max.

Other things one could look at are things like aerobic or anaerobic threshold.
 
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jlocker

macrumors 65816
Jun 20, 2011
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We refer to this as series 0, since “series 1” was actually an update that came after those original watches. (I still have three series 0 sitting around, though only 1 still gets used occasionally).

Opps yep forgot that I mean series 0 :) Thanks for the correction, forgot that :)
 
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repoman016

macrumors regular
Mar 28, 2017
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The oxygen sat is a big sales gimmick. Very little actual medical benefit to be gained. It’s a neat feature, might be helpful for chronic COPD patients on home O2 or something. For everyone else it’s a feature that is nice and will have significant advertising behind it, but in practical medical terms much less useful than a heart rate sensor or ecg

I think non medical people doesn’t understand how little an O2 sat monitor tells you outside of acute settings, that the advertising is really going to be a big thing here
I think in the midst of a respiratory effected pandemic, it might become one of the more used features.
 
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nordique

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Oct 12, 2014
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I think in the midst of a respiratory effected pandemic, it might become one of the more used features.

Again, it doesn’t tell you anything significant

By the time you have a significantly changed A-a gradient or VQ mismatch from a viral related exacerbation, you’ll already be in the hospital with O2 monitors

The lungs work a little differently with pathology than the heart does especially with serious illnesses. With the heart there is a lot more “silent” pathophysiolgy. With the lungs, not so much.

You can bet Apple’s advertising will let people think they need it though especially during a pandemic lol. Non medical people don’t quite understand how oxygen saturation tells pathology and how, more or less, useless it is outside of a hospital.
 
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nordique

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Oct 12, 2014
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i would disagree, if you are feeling breathless you need to go to the ER regardless of what the watch pulse oximetry says. I think it may lead to unnecessary visits to ER from worried well as well.

Not only that, you can feel breathless and have a perfect pulse oximetry reading
 
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Apple_Robert

macrumors Penryn
Sep 21, 2012
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In the middle of several books.
Again, it doesn’t tell you anything significant

By the time you have a significantly changed A-a gradient or VQ mismatch from a viral related exacerbation, you’ll already be in the hospital with O2 monitors

The lungs work a little differently with pathology than the heart does especially with serious illnesses. With the heart there is a lot more “silent” pathophysiolgy. With the lungs, not so much.

You can bet Apple’s advertising will let people think they need it though especially during a pandemic lol. Non medical people don’t quite understand how oxygen saturation tells pathology and how, more or less, useless it is outside of a hospital.
Are you a med student, RN, MD, or PA?
 
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