Users won’t have to wait for Apple Watch Series 6’s blood oxygen sensor

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The Apple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygen app lets you measure oxygen saturation in just 15 seconds.
The blood oxygen sensor on the new Apple Watch is big news.
Photo: Apple

Buyers won’t need to wait to use Apple Watch Series 6’s marquee feature: a blood oxygen sensor. The Blood Oxygen app should be available from day one in the United States and many other countries, according to Apple’s list of watchOS 7 features.

That stands in stark contrast to the delay for Apple Watch Series 4’s big health-related feature. People who bought it had to wait quite a few months before the smartwatch’s new ECG feature went live. It switched on in the United States three months after the device shipped, and users elsewhere had to wait even longer.

The list of where the Blood Oxygen app will work at launch includes more than 100 markets around the world — with one notable exception being China.

Blood oxygen sensor: The big new Apple Watch feature

The blood oxygen sensor is the big new feature of Apple Watch Series 6. Particularly useful in the year of COVID-19, the blood-oxygen sensor promises to provide an early warning relating to a number of different health problems.

“Oxygen saturation, also known as SpO2, is like a vital sign,” said Dr. Sumbul Ahmad Desai, Apple’s VP of health, during Tuesday’s Time Flies event. It’s a key measurement that contains critical information about your breathing and circulation.

“Blood oxygen and pulse oximetry are terms that we’ve heard a lot about during the COVID pandemic,” Desai continued. “As you breathe, your heart and lungs work together to deliver oxygen throughout your body, but oxygen saturation is an indication of how well the system is functioning and of your overall respiratory and cardiac health. And pulse oximetry is how you measure it.”

That said, this year’s update is not one of the biggest in Apple Watch history. In fact, the more exciting Apple Watch is the new Apple Watch SE, which offers a lot of the pricier wearable’s core functionality at a lower price. However, the Apple Watch Series 6 blood-oxygen sensor certainly sounds useful. It’s good to know that buyers seemingly won’t be waiting around to utilize it it.

Apple Watch Series 6 starts shipping Friday.