Earlier this summer we reviewed the Apple Watch Series 5, concluding that it offered a surprising amount of training features in addition to all of it’s smartwatch capabilities. Earlier this week Apple introduced the latest version of it’s smartwatch, the Series 6, that offers even more health and fitness functionality.
We’ve only had a chance to wear the watch for a day, so this is just a very preliminary first look, with a more extensive review coming soon.
In terms of new sensors, the big news with the Series 6 is that it has a Blood Oxygen sensor. That means that the it can measure oxygen saturation, defined by Apple as “the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body.”
You can use the Blood Oxygen app on demand, and the watch does periodic background measurements when you’re inactive or sleeping, and all of that data is available in the Health app.
Also of interest to triathletes will be the always-on altimeter, which provides real-time elevation through a combination of a barometric altimeter along with GPS and Wi-Fi networks.
While it remains the same size as the Series 5, the latest version of the Apple Watch uses a new processor that runs up to 20 per cent faster. The new watch will charge faster, too – it’ll do a full charge in less than 90 minutes. That will make it much easier to keep it on while sleeping, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the health monitoring apps for more of the day.
The new watch also has an enhanced, always-on retina display that’s 2.5 times brighter when your wrist is down than the Series 5. This makes a noticeable difference when you’re taking a quick look down at the watch, especially while training.
Battery life has also been improved, which will be appreciated by triathletes who can now enjoy an additional hour of workout tracking – up to 11 hours for indoor workouts, and up to seven hours for outdoor sessions with GPS.
The new watchOS 7 adds some new health features to all the Apple watches, including a handwashing feature that will automatically detect if you’ve started washing your hands and count down for 20 seconds. The watch will also help you track your sleep.
Thanks to the built-in cellular functions, you can also use the Series 6 to connect through a call or text message, and stream music or podcasts your phone. This is a great for those who want the security of being able to reach out in an emergency, but would prefer not to carry their phone with them during a workout.
There’s lots for us to explore with the latest Apple Watch – look for a more detailed review over the next few weeks.