Apple WatchOS 9 will include new atrial fibrillation history and medication tracking features

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On Monday, Apple at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) offered a first look at its upcoming watchOS 9 smartwatch operating system, which is slated to arrive this fall, and it includes important new health and fitness features. physical.

On the health front, watchOS 9 promises to deliver expanded atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection capabilities, a new Medications app to help you manage your prescriptions, and sleep stage tracking. Fitness-focused updates include new running-specific metrics, a multi-sport workout type for triathletes, and heart rate zone data. WatchOS 9 also includes new watch faces to personalize your Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch can already warn you if it detects signs of AFib, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other serious complications. WatchOS 9 includes a new AFib history feature designed to help you track the frequency of this condition over an extended period. It will estimate how often your heartbeat shows signs of atrial fibrillation and the lifestyle factors that may influence it, such as sleep, alcohol consumption and exercise. You will also be able to generate a PDF of your atrial fibrillation history to share with your doctor.

The AFib History feature (Photo: Apple)

“Research suggests that time spent in atrial fibrillation can impact a person’s symptoms, overall quality of life, and risk of complications,” Apple wrote in a press release.(Opens in a new window). “According to the American Heart Association, consideration of modifiable lifestyle factors can reduce time spent in atrial fibrillation.”

Apple says the new AFib History feature is the first of its kind, and the company expects to receive FDA clearance “soon”. It builds on the Apple Watch’s already impressive suite of potentially life-saving tools, including fall detection and high/low heart rate alerts.

Medicines app

The Medicines app (Photo: Apple)

The new Medications app, which will be available on Apple Watch and iPhone, is designed to help users keep track of their prescriptions, vitamins and supplements. You can use your iPhone to scan your prescription bottles and easily create a medication list, set up schedules and reminders. As you build your medication list, the Health app alerts you to any potentially critical interactions between the medications you’re taking. The Apple Watch will then let you log when you’ve taken or skipped your meds.

Stages of sleep

Sleep stage data on Apple Watch (Photo: Apple)

Sleep stage data is a welcome and long overdue addition. Apple was late to the game when it added sleep tracking in 2020 as part of watchOS 7, and at launch the functionality was very basic. Last year, overnight breath tracking was introduced in watchOS 8, and now the next generation of its smartwatch operating system will track how much time you spend awake, in REM, central and deep sleep using the heart rate and movement data.

Even with this new feature, the Apple Watch will lag behind the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 series on the sleep tracking front. Samsung’s latest flagship smartwatches can track your snoring and even record the audio if you need proof.

Running data

The Apple Watch will soon track your vertical oscillation and other new run-specific metrics (Picture: Apple)

When you run, the Apple Watch will soon track your stride length, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation, metrics typically reserved for running-specific wearables that can help you gauge your performance and performance. training progress. The vertical oscillation metric, a measure of your vertical movement with each step, can help you determine if you’re wasting too much energy going uphill rather than forward.

Multisports

Multi-sport tracking on Apple Watch (Photo: Apple)

The new kind of multisport workout uses the watch’s motion sensors to recognize movement patterns and automatically switch between biking, running, and swimming. This feature will help the Apple Watch better compete with triathlete-specific watches like the Garmin Forerunner 745 and Polar Vantage V2.

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HR zones

Heart rate zone data on Apple Watch (Photo: Apple)

The new heart rate zone data, which can help you monitor your intensity during workouts, isn’t revolutionary at all, but I’m glad Apple is catching up here. Many other fitness trackers already show which heart rate zone you’re in and keep track of how long you spend in each. Some Fitbit wearables like the Charge 5, for example, can alert you when you reach a target heart rate zone during your workout.

Apple says you’ll be able to manually create your heart rate zones or have the watch calculate them automatically using existing health data. You’ll also be able to create custom workouts that include work and rest intervals, and set up alerts to get notified when you hit a certain pace, power, heart rate, or cadence goal.

Moon dial

The face of the Lunar Watch (Photo: Apple)

Meanwhile, new Apple Watch faces are pretty much a given with every watchOS update, and this year users are getting four new ones. This includes: Lunar, with Chinese, Islamic and Hebrew calendars; Playtime, created in collaboration with artist Joi Fulton with whimsical animated numbers; Metropolitan, a typography-focused face that changes as you rotate the digital crown; and astronomy, which has been revamped with a new star map and current cloud data.

WatchOS 9 will arrive as a free update this fall for Apple Watch Series 4 or later paired with an iPhone 8 or later or iPhone SE (second generation), running iOS 16. The developer beta of watchOS 9 is now available for members of the Apple Developer Program. . The company plans to launch a public beta for watchOS users next month.

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