Apple unveils Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen monitoring, new chip, and fresh colors

The new watch will retail for $399 and go on sale this Friday.

Apple has unveiled its latest flagship Apple Watch, the Series 6. The company took the wraps off the wearable at its virtual event where it also unveiled the iPad Air 4. The Cupertino company also debuted the Apple Watch SE, but I’ll save that for another article.

The Series 6 is actually a pretty easy Apple Watch to understand. Take everything great about the Series 5 – the design, always-on display, performance, EKG feature, and fitness tracking – and turn it up a notch. The Series 6 throws blood oxygen monitoring into the mix along with faster performance, an improved always-on display, and many more fitness features.

Let’s start with the blood oxygen monitoring. Apple uses an array of green, red, and infrared LEDs alongside four photodiodes on the back side of the Series 6 to collect the data. It then utilizes a custom algorithm to measure your blood oxygen between 70 and 100 percent. You can take tests manually through the Blood Oxygen app, and your watch can also check your stats periodically throughout the day and store your data in the Health app.

With the feature, Apple will be conducting three different health studies to explore when and where blood oxygen levels can be applied in future health developments. The company details its partnerships in its press release.

Apple is joining forces with researchers to conduct three health studies that include using Apple Watch to explore how blood oxygen levels can be used in future health applications. This year, Apple will collaborate with the University of California, Irvine, and Anthem to examine how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.

Separately, Apple will work closely with investigators at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network, one of the largest health research organizations in North America, to better understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics can help with management of heart failure. Finally, investigators with the Seattle Flu Study at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and faculty from the University of Washington School of Medicine will seek to learn how signals from apps on Apple Watch, such as Heart Rate and Blood Oxygen, could serve as early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and COVID-19.

Moving on, the performance on the Series 6 is set to be up to 20 percent faster than the Series 5 day to day. Apple’s S6 SiP based on the A13 Bionic will allow apps to launch 20 percent faster, while battery life will remain at the company’s estimated 18 hours of usage. The new watch also includes the company’s U1 chip and Ultra Wideband antennas which enable short-range wireless features like a digital car key.

The always-on display is also seeing improvements on the Series 6. You can now interact with it without turning the watch’s display on. Swiping to change the watch face, interacting with notifications and Control Center, and tapping on complications are now possible while the always-on display is active. Apple also says the AOD is 2.5 times brighter outdoors than Series 5.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple Watch upgrade if fitness didn’t see an upgrade or two. With Series 6, Apple is enabling a new always-on altimeter to track elevation throughout your day by utilizing a more power-efficient barometric altimeter. It also uses more efficient GPS and Wi-Fi.

That’s not all. To coincide with the new watch, Apple is also introducing Fitness+, a new subscription service. It’ll include live workout classes and prerecorded ones so you can get your workout in however and whenever you want. It’ll cost $9.99/month, and if you buy a new Apple Watch the company will throw in three free months. You can learn more about the service here.

The Series 6 ships with watchOS 7 which will come out tomorrow for Apple Watch Series 3 and up. You get new watch faces, sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, upgrades to Maps, and more. You also get Apple’s new Family Setup to control what features kids can access on a cellular-connected model.

Apple will launch the Apple Watch Series 6 this Friday, September 18th, for $399. For a model with cellular connectivity, it’ll start at $499. The new Series 6 ships in multiple different finishes including space gray, blue, PRODUCT(RED), and gold. The stainless steel model now ships in a graphite finish in addition to a classic yellow gold. The Apple Watch Edition is available in natural and space black titanium.

Apple is also introducing new bands like the Braided Solo Loop, new colors for the Nike Sport Band, and some new Hermès models.

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