Apple Watch Series 6 has a new blood oxygen sensor that helps measure an important symptom of COVID-19. Apple revealed the new $400 watch as the high end of its Apple Watch lineup at an event today. This feature could be useful for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 but aren’t yet ready to go to the hospital or who have been told by a doctor to stay home and monitor their symptoms.
I’ve been using the Apple Watch for a while, and one of the things it does is measure my heart rate. I’ve also used the Brainworks Medio Smart Health app, which is a web application that tracks your heart rate and breathing rate. The app measures your COVID-19 risk by using its camera to detect changes in your skin. You also fill out a questionnaire, responding to questions like whether you have a sore throat or runny nose or have lost your sense of smell.
The one missing element for detecting COVID-19 symptoms is your temperature, which you would have to measure on your own. Otherwise, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Medio Smart Health app both allow you to track symptoms related to COVID-19. While Apple doesn’t actually tell you your COVID-19 risk, Brainworks does. But using the two could prompt people to get tested if their symptoms suggest they may be infected.
The Apple Watch measures blood oxygen saturation and pulse oximetry. There are other ways to measure your blood oxygen, as demonstrated by watches including Fitbit’s Sp02 watch face. But Apple’s devices tend to reach a broader market than health-specific devices. Apple did not say the Watch Series 6 could be used for COVID-19 detection, but it did say the device could be used for pandemic-related studies.