New Apple Watch health features: What's in, what's out | Cult of Mac

New Apple Watch health features: What’s in, what’s out

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Apple Watch won't get blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring soon, but other new health updates are coming.
Apple Watch won't get blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring soon, but other new health updates are coming.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Cupertino is likely to add body temperature readings and other new health features to Apple Watch and the Health app in 2022, but it looks like blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring will have to wait, according to a new report.

For a look at those delays to blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring, as well as the expected new features for women’s health and sleep-, fitness- and medication management, read on.

Apple Watch: Blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring delayed

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple’s four-year effort to develop a sensor that detects high blood pressure has been delayed again. Testing the technology on employees shows ongoing accuracy problems.

For that reason, blood pressure monitoring may not be ready until 2024 at the earliest, or possibly even 2025.

Sources told Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman that the feature appears inaccurate, even though it only detects if a user appears to have hypertension (high blood pressure). That triggers a warning to consult a doctor.  The feature doesn’t provide specific systolic and diastolic readings, like a conventional blood pressure test would.

Apple also hopes to introduce non-invasive blood glucose monitoring to Apple Watch. However, the feature may still be several years away, with no release year yet targeted, Gurman said. Meanwhile, Apple has talked about bolstering support for third-party glucose meters on Apple Watch and in the Health app to help users suffering from diabetes.

What’s in: Women’s health features plus sleep-, fitness- and medication-management options

More immediately, Apple plans to introduce new women’s health features plus new sleep-, fitness- and medication-management options in the ‌Health app for Apple Watch and iPhone.

Cupertino still plans to add a body temperature sensor to the Apple Watch this year. Initially, it’s intended to help with fertility planning. In the future, new Apple Watch models could determine higher-than-normal body temperature, but probably won’t show an exact measurement.

New in watchOS 9

As part of watchOS 9, Apple plans to improve its atrial fibrillation-detection feature by enabling it to measure how long a person is in a state of atrial fibrillation across a given period.

You also should expect more workout types and additional metrics for running workouts in the Apple Watch’s Workout app, Gurman said.

Apple likely will outline new watchOS 9 features at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June and release them with new watches in fall 2022.

New health features in iOS 16

Upcoming iOS 16 updates to Apple’s Health app may expand sleep tracking functionality. Apple also might add new features for medicine management and women’s health.

Apple is developing a tool to allow users to scan their medications into the Health app and remind users to take them, Gurman said. But the first version of the medicine management tool may not include all planned functionality.

As work on new health features continues amid employee departures from Apple’s health team, some workers have been unhappy with the company’s progress, Gurman added. Some employees say enhancements take too long, not enough risks are taken and the Health team has not grown in at least two years.

3 new Apple Watch models, future satellite connectivity

Apple likely will go with three new Apple Watch models for 2022 release. They include a standard Series 8 model, a low-end SE version and a higher-end, rugged model for extreme athletes. Satellite reception for Apple Watch is also in the works for the future, Gurman said, which could come into play for emergency texting and SOS features.