Apple just unveiled the latest iteration of its popular wearable, the Apple Watch Series 4. The new version focuses on monitoring health, with the ability to take an ECG (electrocardiogram) that is FDC approved. The new watch can also detect hard falls with a barometric altimeter, and automatically calls 911 (or a preferred contact) if this happens to the wearer.
Electrical sensors are part of the design, which measures an ECG from your wrist. This is a significant feature for Apple, since it will be the first time an over-the-counter device can do this with approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Also new and unique to the Apple Watch Series 4 is the ability to detect an irregular heartbeat, which might be a sign of Atrial Fibrillation. According to Fast Company, this feature won’t be available right away, but later in the year when there is an upgrade.
In addition, a new accelerator and gyroscope detect if you have taken a hard fall and can call for help (provided you buy the cellular version of the watch).
There’s been some speculation about Apple’s marketing strategy with the new watch, with some analysts wondering if the company is appealing to an older demographic who might have been resistant to the idea of wearing a smartwatch. Detecting hard falls aren’t typically something younger customers are concerned about.
Apple has also improved the design, with a 30% larger screen, but the watch size is only slightly bigger, and the body is thinner than previous versions. According to Fast Company, the app icons are easier to read, and the new watch face has nine pieces of information (like temperature, date, exercise progress, for example), all situated around the analog or digital clock.
The watch includes a new and faster S4 processor, which is helpful for content rendering on the new larger screen. The speaker is also twice as loud, which is helpful for phone calls and voice activation. The battery life remains the same, about 18 hours.
Android smartwatches, particularly Samsung Galaxy, are giving Apple a run for their money. Both brands of watches have heart rate monitors and can track exercise like running, cycling, yoga and even swimming. (Both are also water-resistant to 5 ATM.) With the Galaxy, you can manually log up to 40 different exercises and sports. The Galaxy also keeps an eye on your stress levels, prompting you to relax and breathe if your heart rate goes up and you’re not exercising.
One major benefit of the Samsung watch is its ability to work with both Android and iPhones, while the Apple Watch Series 4 works only with iPhones.
The new Apple Watch is priced from $399 (GPS only) to $499, which comes with both GPS and cellular capability.