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Apple debuts new Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen sensor

Apple said measuring blood oxygen saturation and pulse oximetry are important barometers of health, but even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Apple on Tuesday announced the Apple Watch Series 6, its latest smartwatch iteration that includes a new health sensor for measuring blood oxygen levels and improved fitness monitoring. Apple also announced a lower-cost version of the smartwatch called the Apple Watch SE. 

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Apple said measuring blood oxygen saturation and pulse oximetry are important barometers of health, but even more so during the coronavirus pandemic. For many people infected with COVID-19, blood oxygen monitoring is critical for knowing when it's time to seek immediate medical care. The Series 6 is the first Apple Watch to include this sensor.

See it now: Apple Watch Series 6 at Apple

The Apple Watch SE is touted as a budget-friendly option with a starting price of $279. The watch uses the S5 chip and shares some tech specs with the Series 6 but with a Series 4-like design. 

The updated Apple Watch is the successor to the Apple Watch Series 5 and will run WatchOS 7

Apple held its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in late June where the company announced the beta version of WatchOS 7 for its smartwatch lineup. Key updates to the OS include the ability to track various workouts as well as sleep patterns. Apple said WatchOS 7 will also get new exercises, and users will get more credit for exercise thanks to the combination of various sensors in Apple Watch with heart rate. 

Also: Apple's event: Watch the Apple Watch Series 6 and iPad Air get unveiled here

Apple COO Jeff Williams said WatchOS 7 can measure a full range of VO2 max, which Apple says is a key predictor of health. Apple also bolstered sleep tracking in WatchOS 7 with wind-down tools. The Activity app is also now called Fitness.

Meanwhile, Apple also announced its latest subscription service called Fitness Plus. The service gives users access to a variety of workout videos and uses the Apple Watch to power the sessions. Apple Fitness Plus will cost $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year. The service will be available at the end of the year in a limited set of countries, and new Apple Watch customers will get it for free for 3 months.