We already have reports that Apple is possible about to release a new set of noise cancelling over the ear headphones and is working on a “lite’ version of the AirPods Pro for release later in the year. However, that isn’t all Apple is working on to extend their extremely popular and fast-growing wearables lineup. They are also continuing to work on the Apple Watch and AirPods.
9to5Mac is reporting that Apple is working on improving its existing ECG feature for the Watch. The intent is to improve the accuracy of ECGs when taken between 100-120 BPM, as the current version of the feature struggles with accuracy at higher heart rates. 9to5 wasn’t sure if this would be done with hardware or software, but hopefully it will come this year. If it is a software upgrade, then it should also work on the Series 5 Watch, as well as this year’s hardware.
Apple is also reported to be working on adding the ability to measure blood oxygen levels to the Apple Watch. Again, it isn’t currently clear if Apple would have to alter the hardware to include this reading, or if a software update would be sufficient. There was a previous rumor that the current heart rate monitor could be used to measure blood ox as well, so it is also possible that this could be retroactively added to previous Watch models. Apple did this last year with their Noise Monitoring feature, so it certainly fits what Apple has been doing with the hardware, so far.
9to5Mac also mentions the third rail of Apple Watch features. The last of the big asks- Sleep tracking. They don’t give any details other than saying that the feature is in development and will come with a Sleep app. I remain skeptical of this one arriving in 2020 unless we get word that Apple is moving to a different, more efficient screen that will drastically improve battery life. However, there hasn’t been any indication yet that Mini-LED is ready for mass production this year, so I still think sleep tracking is likely further out.
The Apple Watch isn’t the only device that Apple may be doing some further work on. According to a recently awarded patent, the company is developing newly designed AirPods that will sit more flush with the ears, rather than protruding out. It looks to me like this patent applies to the AirPods more than the AirPods Pro. Either way, this should help with the fit problems that some have with the current design.
It looks like Apple has a very busy 2020 and beyond planned for wearables. That makes sense considering that this is one of their fastest growing areas in both sales and profitability. As long as the impact of the COVID-19 virus doesn’t derail their plans, these new features should help Apple extend both their marketshare and mindshare leads in smartwatches and wireless earbuds over the next two years.