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.
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.
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.
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.