The past few days have seen 9to5Mac publish a torrent of new features it has spotted within the leaked code of Apple’s next firmware update, iOS 14. While the majority of these details have to do with interface customization, parental controls and the like, two new functionalities will be of particular interest to competitors already offering digital wellness tools.
The first is blood oxygen-level monitoring via the Apple Watch, which comes alongside a new automatic notification for when the wearer’s blood oxygen saturation falls below an acceptable threshold. 9to5Mac noted in its coverage that it’s still unclear whether additional hardware or software will be needed to enable these capabilities.
The second iOS14 health feature uncovered in the leaked code is the Apple Watch’s long-awaited sleep tracking. Many of the detail here that fall in line with previous rumor reports regarding heart rate, movement and a vibration-only alarm still appear to hold true. 9to5Mac notes that users will be able to set personalized sleep goals and receive sleep health recommendations directly through the iPhone’s Health app.
The publication also noted a future update to the Apple Watch’s ECG feature that could address inconclusive readings for heart rates between 100 and 120 beats per minute.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch on the market, but as yet hasn’t added two health-tracking features that are becoming more and more common among its competitors. Adding native Sp02 and sleep tracking in the next update could introduce these tools to a significant number of consumers – and in the case of sleep tracking especially, undercut third-party developers who are selling their own health tracking apps on Apple’s marketplace.
THE LARGER TREND
The word on Apple’s sleep-tracking efforts came way back in February of 2019 courtesy of anonymous reports that the tech giant was testing out its sleep features in secret. However, the tracking tools were a no-show at WWCD 2019, where Apple instead pulled back the curtain on cycle tracking, activity trends and hearing health features for the wearable device.
Meanwhile, competitors like Fitbit and Withings have supported sleep-tracking features for some time now, and just a few months ago unveiled Sp02 tracking via a low-key software update (for Fitbit) and a full-fledged new product reveal at CES (for Withings).