The next Apple Watch will likely be even more focused on your well-being thanks to two important new health monitoring functions. According to Bloomberg, Apple’s next-generation wearables will monitor and alert for signs of sleep apnea and hypertension.
With wellness monitoring being a core reason many folks pick up a smartwatch or fitness tracker, this is a hugely welcomed inclusion. Both hypertension and sleep apnea, left untreated, can lead to heart failure and/or a stroke.
How the new health features work
Apple’s new health features will likely be somewhat limited in their complexity, at least at launch. Rather than focusing on providing metrics to the user, they’ll instead prioritize interpreting that data for signs of trouble and alerting you if anything suspect is spotted (much like smartwatch ECG monitoring).
The sleep apnea feature monitors both a user's sleep habits and breathing patterns, over time, to determine whether or not they may have the condition. If it is detected, users will receive an alert and suggestion that they meet with a healthcare provider.
The hypertension monitoring feature uses a new sensor to detect when a user’s blood pressure is too high or too low based on their baseline over time. However, it won’t provide any sort of systolic and diastolic measurements at launch. But that may be added down the road.
Apple Watch has big health ambitions
It’s worth keeping in mind that when Apple first started to work on what would eventually become the Apple Watch, the initial vision was not simply a companion device for iPhone users, but rather a piece of wearable tech centered around health.
However, due to a myriad of reasons, including the complexities of the US healthcare industry and a desire not to tarnish Apple’s reputation with unreliable features, the first Apple Watch was pretty limited in its wellness capabilities.
That’s slowly changed over the years with the release of each new model. However, while today’s top Apple Watches keep tabs on skin temperature, pulse, blood oxygen levels, heart rhythm (via ECG) and more, there's much more Apple could do.
In fact, there have been reports Apple that is working on a noninvasive blood glucose monitor as its crown jewel, something that is still a holy grail for diabetic care to this day — though Apple is apparently getting closer to making it a reality.
The future of Apple health and fitness
While we’ll have to wait for noninvasive glucose monitoring, Apple appears to be moving in the right direction when it comes to customer wellness.
In addition to hypertension and sleep apnea monitoring, the company is also looking into bringing customized workout and nutrition information to user’s Apple Watches. Plus, the forthcoming Video Pro headset will reportedly include fitness and anxiety-focused features.