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Apple Reveals: Watch Adds Blood Oxygen Sensor, New Color Options

The sensor on the Series 6 can measure the oxygen saturation of your blood; a new, lower-cost Apple Watch SE starts at $279. Both can tap into Apple's new Fitness+ subscription service.

This story originally appeared on PC Mag

Apple today unveiled two new wearables: the Watch Series 6 and lower-cost Watch SE alongside a new Fitness+ workout service. 

via PCMag

The new Apple Watch models are available for pre-order today and slated to arrive on Friday. The Series 6, which features a new blood oxygen sensor and app, starts at $399 for the GPS-only model and $100 more for the GPS and cellular version. The Watch SE, which boasts design elements of the Series 6 with key health and safety features like fall detection, starts at $279 for the GPS-only model or $329 for the GPS and cellular version. 

The Series 6 and SE will not come with a USB power adapter. Apple says it made that decision to help the environment, and it will have the same impact as eliminating 50,000 cars from the roads per year. 

Meanwhile, the new Fitness+ service will be available to Apple Watch users before the end of the year for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. 

Apple also today announced a new Family Setup service that lets you use your own iPhone to set up an Apple Watch for your child or older family member. 

Let's take a closer look at each of these new products and services below. 


Apple Watch Series 6

The Series 6's standout feature is a new sensor that can measure the oxygen saturation of your blood, also known as SpO2. The sensor essentially shines light into your skin and measures the color of your blood, which indicates the amount of oxygen present. The watch can calculate your SpO2 level in 15 seconds, any time you want. The sensor also captures periodic background measurements when you're sleeping and inactive. 


The new Samsung Galaxy Watch3 and Fitbit Sense can also measure your blood oxygen level.

The Series 6 also features an always-on altimeter, so on hikes you can see the elevation change in real time on your watch face. It also boasts an improved always-on display, which compared to the Series 5 is 2.5 times brighter outdoors when your wrist is down, so it should be easier to see in the sunlight. Other improvements include a new dual-core processor based on the A13 Bionic in iPhone 11, which promises a 20 percent speed improvement. 

When Apple announced watchOS 7 with sleep tracking, we hoped it was an indication that it would beef up the battery life on its latest wearable, but that didn't happen. The Series 6 offers the same 18-hour battery life as the Series 5, though Apple says it should drain less battery when tracking certain workouts like indoor and outdoor runs. 

The Series 6 comes in some fresh colors, including blue aluminum, a grayish-black stainless steel model called graphite, an updated classic yellow gold stainless steel model, and a (PRODUCT)RED model. Apple is also introducing new band styles, including a lightweight, stretchy Solo Loop that does not feature a clasp or buckle and a Leather Link band that attaches with magnets. 


Apple Watch SE

The affordable Watch SE features what Apple is calling its largest and most advanced Retina display on a wearable yet. Compared to the Series 3, which will remain on sale for $199, the SE's display is 30 percent larger and its processor is two times faster. 

It features the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter as Apple Watch Series 6, along with a compass and microphone to measure ambient sound levels in your environment. It supports fall detection, Emergency SOS so you can easily call for help,  international emergency calling, and the Noise app, which can send you an alert when the decibel level of the surrounding area could cause hearing damage. 

It's available in three case finishes made of 10 percent recycled aluminum, and is compatible with all Apple Watch bands

Apple Fitness+

The new Apple Watch-powered Fitness+ service will offer instructor-led workouts you can play on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. When you start a workout, metrics and Activity Rings from your Apple Watch will appear on the screen. The service will launch with a range of workouts, including yoga, cycling, dance, treadmill walking and running, strength, core, HIIT, rowing, and mindful cooldown. Apple said it plans to update the service with new workouts each week. 

The service will be integrated with Apple Music, and trainers will curate the tunes for each session. Apple Music subscribers will be able to save tracks they discover during workouts. You can use any brand of fitness gear with Fitness+, though most of the workouts will require just a set of dumbbells or no equipment, Apple said. 

Starting today for a limited time, those who purchase an Apple Watch Series 3 or later will get three months of Fitness+ for free. It will also be available as part of the new Apple One subscription bundle.

Family Setup

Finally, Apple's new Family Setup feature will let you use your own iPhone to set up an Apple Watch for your child or older family member. This should come in handy if you want to connect someone who doesn't have their own iPhone. 

Parents can use Family Setup to approve the contacts with whom their child can communicate. The service also offers automatic location notifications, so you can, for instance, receive an alert when your child gets home from school. 

Family Setup will be available starting tomorrow on cellular models of the Series 4 and later. The user you're setting it up for will have their own account and phone number through a separate cellular plan. 

Written By

Angela Moscaritolo has been a PCMag reporter since January 2012.