Apple is developing at least two new features focused on health that will expand Apple Watch capabilities in the future. Apple Watch will add the ability to detect blood oxygen levels for the first time, 9to5Mac has learned.
Blood oxygen levels between 95 and 100% are considered healthy; blood oxygen levels below 80% may lead to compromised heart and brain functionality. Risk of respiratory or cardiac arrest is common after continued low blood oxygen saturation.
To that end, Apple is developing a new health notification based on the vital measurement. When Apple Watch detects low blood oxygen saturation below a certain threshold, a notification will trigger alerting the user similar to current heart rate notifications.
It’s unclear at this point what hardware and software will be required for blood oxygen detection and notifications.
It’s possible future Apple Watch Series 6 hardware will be required for the new health feature. It could also come to a future watchOS 6 update or watchOS 7 in the fall.
The original Apple Watch hardware is believed to be capable of measuring blood oxygen levels through the built-in heart rate monitor. Apple upgraded the heart rate monitor with Apple Watch Series 4, adding electrocardiogram features, but Apple Watch hasn’t offered blood oxygen measurement features yet.