Amidst the usual pomp and hoopla so endemic to an Apple announcement, an annual affair in Silicon Valley attended by tech journalists from all over the world, there was one announcement that got everybody far more excited than the latest iPhones, and it wasn’t exactly what you might expect.
Medical professionals from all corners are rejoicing over the new Apple Watch Series 4, for a few world-first inclusions that go a lot farther than just counting your steps and tracking your jogging route.
The new Apple Watch 4 includes an electrocardiograph, which has the ability to record and monitor electrical activity in the human body, checking for potential signs of heart disease, and even stroke. An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is the most common method used to test for coronary artery disease, though this is usually performed under a “stress test” in a clinic.
With data stored in the iOS Health app, and available to be exported via PDF, the ability to share with your doctor is incredibly easy, and as such, this inclusion in the Apple Watch 4 would make it possible to test for such diseases on a grand scale. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the US, meaning that Apple’s clever innovation could actually save many, many lives.
It achieves this feat with thanks to its new ceramic case-back, which replaces the LED blood monitor from previous models. LED lights are used by most wearable tech to monitor blood flow, though this is far from accurate in many cases. The ceramics in the watch’s construction ensure an accurate reading of electrical activity, allowing for the broader scope of functionality in terms of health applications, including cholesterol levels and abnormal heart rhythms.
Functionality-wise, the new OLED display is a big step up from its predecessor, with a 30 percent increase in size thanks to slimmed down bezels. The case size is also slimmer, and the old offerings of 38 mm and 42 mm options have been tossed out the window, replaced by 40 mm and 44 mm cases. Despite this shift in case design, Apple has maintained the same band size, so that current users can retrofit their favourite band onto the new model.
There’s also haptic feedback in the new crown (meaning it’ll click ever so slightly, just like a smartphone when used), a nice, premium touch.
Further to Apple Watch 4’s ability to let you know when your cholesterol is getting a bit on the dangerous side, there’s another great life saving feature here, in the form of a new and improved gyroscope, which can detect when the wearer has had a fall, the nature of the fall, and then alert emergency services if required. Many Twitter users were suggesting that, despite having to spend hours explaining what it is and how it works, plenty of grandmothers will be getting the Apple Watch 4 for Christmas this year (mine included).
Overall, Apple’s annual announcements have been a red letter day for many for a very long time now, but with the inevitability of smartphone development slowing down, innovating in other areas has to be a priority, and it’s one at which Apple has, in this instance, proved more than adept, once again.
The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at AU $599 for the GPS-only version, and AU $749 for the mobile option. Pre-orders are available from September 14, with first shipments on September 21