Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 6.
Analysts and reporters have published conflicting reports on what to expect from the next Apple Watch. Some, like Nikkei, have claimed it will have new health sensors, but others like Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman have said this year’s model will not offer major new hardware features amid production limitations.
To cap off a week of debate on the subject, The Wall Street Journal today published a report claiming that several important health sensing functions are coming to the watch, but not is model of the year.
According to the Journal sources, a future Apple Watch other than this year’s Series 7 model will include more advanced sleep tracking, such as the ability to detect sleep apnea. To accomplish this, Apple is looking for ways to allow the Apple Watch to get sensor data overnight without testing the battery, which has been a barrier for the Watch to compete with Fitbit’s wearable sleep-tracking devices and others.
The report also claims that Apple plans to add a new sensor that measures body temperature, which could contribute to the sleep-tracking improvements mentioned above, but also many other things, such as helping in tracking ovulation. It would also help the user to check for fever.
Lastly, Apple is looking for ways to track blood glucose levels to help users at risk for diabetes. However, Apple is “struggling” to implement that feature. The effort to make this happen has apparently been ongoing for some years.
Journal sources also said that all of these features are still in development and could ultimately be canceled. But they take home a point that has already been made clear from Apple’s earnings conferences and event keynotes: Health tracking with wearable devices will be a key part of the company’s product strategy going forward. especially with the clock.
Additionally, those sources said that Apple is aggressively seeking FDA approval for new additions that would come in the form of software updates for existing Apple Watch models. Examples include a notification when blood pressure levels drop, in addition to the ability for users to manually look up a reading, and people with atrial fibrillation could track long-term with the watch.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to arrive in the coming weeks alongside the new iPhone models. Previous reports from multiple outlets have said it will have a larger front panel, a slightly redesigned body, and improved battery life, but few new health features.