Apple Watch

What to Expect from the Apple Watch This Week

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Apple Watch

There has been a lot of talk about Apple adding a blood oxygen sensor to the Apple Watch Series 6 this year. However, beyond that, we haven’t heard much else before this weekend about Apple’s newest wearable, which should be announced during their event on Tuesday. So what else can we expect to see?

Before I get to all of that, just because the blood oxygen sensor has been discussed for a while in leaks and predictions, don’t dismiss its importance. A few ongoing studies are showing that monitoring a combination of heart rate, blood oxygen level and skin temp over time can be very effective in diagnosing cases of COVID-19 before the onset of symptoms.

This could be a very effective tool to encourage people who may be infected to get tested early and to go into quarantine earlier if they test positive. As nations all over the world struggle to return to some sense of normalcy while still containing the spread of COVID-19, the new Apple Watch (along with new wearables from other major brands) could become valuable tool in that fight. That means blood oxygen sensing is not a trivial addition to the Series 6, even if we’ve heard about it for a while.

But what else is coming Tuesday?

Supercharged

One of the more recent rumors on the Series 6, courtesy of cryptic leaker @L0vetodream, is that fast charging will be added to the Series 6.

The Apple Watch already charges fairly quickly as it stands, so this might not seem like much of an upgrade for some users. However, it is a big deal for anyone who wants to use the new sleep tracking features in watchOS 7.

I have been running the developer beta of the latest version of watchOS and I can tell you that this will be welcomed by anyone who has trouble making a full day with their Watch right now. Whether it’s workouts, streaming music over cellular during exercise, or sleep tracking, there are plenty of ways to run your battery down into the teens before bed. I do it almost every day.

If you have sleep tracking enabled in watchOS7, the Watch will give you a reminder that you need to recharge before going to bed if the battery is below a certain level, which is good. However, it’s still a bit of a hassle and I’m not always in a position where I can take my Watch off and charge it when I get this alert.

Being able to recharge the Watch to a point where it can last the night and through the following day in minutes will make sleep tracking a more realistic option for people who put a heavy load on the battery. It’s a feature that makes perfect sense for release this year. Using sleep tracking has been a chore during the beta because of battery life, but this addition should make it easier.

Are you Blue, too?

We’ve heard from multiple reliable sources that a new dark blue color is coming to the iPhone 12 Pro lineup this year, replacing last year’s Midnight Green. However, now we have @L0vetodream predicting that the Apple Watch Series 6 will also come in dark blue this year.

This leaker is as cryptic as ever, but I think the message is clear enough. While Apple hasn’t ventured in this color direction before with the Watch, I can see it. Navy blue is neutral enough that it will work as a Watch color. That’s important since this device is worn on the wrist and is almost always visible. Apple has always trended toward using Watch Bands to allow users to spice up their look, while the hardware has always stuck to neutral colors and Earth tones. But this isn’t an outlandish change.

The interesting thing to me (assuming this rumor proves to be true) is whether this option will only be available on the base model aluminum Watch, or whether it will also be an option on the stainless steel model. I have a feeling it will be the former only, but that’s just a guess. If Apple is making a navy blue iPhone Pro this year, then they may already be set up to anodize stainless in blue, so it’s certainly possible.

While I love the gold color of the stainless steel Watch, I will have to take a look if they offer this model in blue, as well. As much as I love the gold, blue has always been my favorite color. If it is coming, hopefully they will give us a really good look at it in a video at the event on Tuesday. It’s hard to make a good decision off pictures on the Apple website, alone.

Apple Services come to Apple Watch

While this isn’t specifically related to the Series 6 Watch, I do expect Apple to make a big deal about its new health and fitness subscription service on Tuesday. This rumor has also been covered by many reputable sources over the last two months, so there is good reason to believe it’s true.

This service will put Apple in the game with big fitness brands such as Peloton in offering workout plans and health advice directly to their users. Considering that the one of the primary uses of the Apple Watch is fitness tracking, this move makes total sense. It also fits hand in glove with Apple’s hard push into subscription services. What we don’t have are any details on how far it goes. Will Apple offer access to personalized services, coaching or virtual classed lead by live instructors, or just canned material?

I’m very interested to see what this new service from Apple looks like on day one. While services have become hugely profitable for the company, their track record is mixed, with Apple Music and iCloud proving very successful, Apple News+ not so much, and Apple TV+ very mixed early on. Apple also has a habit of getting off to rough starts with initial service rollouts and making changes as they go.

Considering how competitive this space already is, Apple can’t afford another beginning like Apple News and Apple Music had. This service needs to be great right out of the box to gain any traction. If it is, then it could prove to be very popular.

Bonus round- Apple Watch SE

Over the last two years, while I was loving the larger screen of the Series 4 and the always-on display of the Series 5, the Apple Watch Series 3 was the top selling Apple Watch. It was a great value and provided the features that most users wanted out of the device. My Wife and mother in law both have Series 3s and love them.

This year, it looks like Apple is going to update its approach to the Watch to match the iPhone. Rather than continuing to offer older models at cheaper prices as their second-tier offering, they will release a modified older design as the Apple Watch SE. Based on a few leaks this weekend, it sounds like the consensus is that the SE will be a Series 4 body and screen with an updated processor.

Again, this falls right in line with how Apple treats the iPhone SE. It will have most of the important features that users want at a great price. The larger display makes it a noticeable upgrade over the Series 3, as well. The interesting thing to me will be how close it ends up coming to the Series 5 and 6 in specs. However it shakes out, the SE should sell like crazy and easily be the top selling model of the year.

So it’s looking like a fairly modest upgrade year for the Apple Watch. There’s no major redesign. No size increase. No massive feature upgrade. I don’t fault Apple too much here, though. The pandemic has obviously impacted their entire 2020 hardware lineup.

For anyone who is in the market to upgrade, who is very concerned about COVID, or is particularly interested in sleep tracking, the Series 6 does have advantages worth looking at. However, I think this will easily be the year of the SE. For those looking for a big jump in the hardware, you might want to hold out for the Series 7 next year.

 

 


James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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