The Apple Watch Series 9 was a bit of a damp squib, features wise. Sure, it was a faster and brighter squib with the first processor upgrade in a few generations and a 2,000nit screen, but in terms of new features, there was very little to write home about. Unless you’re the kind of person to write home about Double Tap.
But for next year’s wearable, Apple is planning two new sensors, according to Bloomberg in a wider report about the company’s health-tracking plans. The site has previously suggested a redesign for the Apple Watch X either next year or the year after, but it’s not clear if this is the same wearable or not.
Anyway, the sensors. The first is a “pathbreaking” blood pressure sensor. It’s apparently designed to tell users whether their blood pressure is trending upwards or downwards, with a journal to write down anything that might have triggered hypertension.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch has had blood pressure monitoring for a few generations, but it occasionally requires calibration with an arm cuff, which makes you wonder how much it’s just cribbing results from elsewhere. Here, to “avoid potentially giving a misdiagnosis”, users will apparently be directed to talk to their doctor or use a cuff for added systolic and diastolic measurements.
A future version in development can produce actual numbers and diagnose related conditions, but these “remain far off”.
The second part is sleep apnea detection. Again, not completely original, but helpful: it will use sleep and breathing patterns to try and assess whether an Apple Watch wearer has the condition, and will tell them to see a doctor if it reckons they do.
What about the blood glucose detection that’s been rumoured for over half a decade at this point? Keep waiting, says Bloomberg. It’s still in the works, and apparently uses a silicon photonics chip to shine light under the skin to estimate the concentration of glucose.
Like the blood pressure analysis, it would tell you how it’s trending, rather than providing exact figures, but even that modest implementation is unlikely to appear in an Apple product for “at least a few years”.
There’s one other interesting Apple Watch tidbit in the article. Apparently, Apple was quite far along making the wearable available for Android users via something deliciously called “Project Fennel”.
The idea was that Apple would be able to bring its health benefits to billions more people… but money ultimately triumphed, with Apple realising that its Watch was a great driver of iPhone sales. Fennel was apparently cancelled very close to completion.
“If you gave up the watch to Android, you would dilute the value of the watch to the iPhone,” a source told the site. Isn’t capitalism marvellous?