Apple announces new Apple Watch Series 6, adding ability to measure blood oxygen


The new Apple Watch Series 6.

Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple’s popular smartwatch is getting an update, called the Apple Watch Series 6, with a key new sensor to measure people’s blood oxygen levels both on demand and in the background.

The new smartwatch, Apple’s first major update in a year, can measure your blood oxygen level in 15 seconds, Apple said, and will also track your blood oxygen in the background. The new feature adds to 2019’s Apple Watch Series 5, which Apple used to introduce technology that enabled an always-on display, turning the device into more of a watch than the wrist computer that some people consider it.

Since the device’s debut in 2015, Apple has expanded health tracking features, such as a heart monitor, has water-proofed it for swimming and has added the ability to track various activities from yoga to running.

The new Apple Watch was announced during Apple’s annual fall product announcement event, which is being held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Apple’s also using the event to announce its latest iPad, among other things.

The company typically announces a new iPhone at its September events, but this time it’s expected to push the reveal to October. The new device is expected to be the first iPhone that supports superfast 5G wireless technology. But Apple’s reportedly struggled to ensure it can make enough of them to keep up with what’s expected to be big demand.

The iPhone 12’s launch typically coincides with the release of the company’s latest iPhone software update, which is made available for free to nearly all active iPhone users. This year’s updates focus on making the device easier to use, with new small apps, called widgets, that can be placed on the home screen and always display updated data. Apple is also trying to make it easier to sort through apps and is updating its text messaging service to help people “pin” the most important chats to the top of their list so they’re easier to find.

The Apple Watch, similarly, will be accompanied by the release of WatchOS 7, Apple’s latest software for the device that was announced in the summer and slated for release this fall. The biggest changes to that software include new capabilities for watch faces and easier ways to share ones you make — features that people including CNET’s Scott Stein have been clamoring for.  The device will also offer new programming to help track your sleep.

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