Ever since it first appeared in Apple’s product line-up in 2015, the Apple Watch has aspired to be more than just a convenient tool for checking your messages, making calls, and telling the time. With each year that passes, the Apple Watch becomes more and more effective as a health and fitness aid.
2022 saw Apple introduce three new Apple Watch models and a major software update to accompany them. And the hardware and software developments Apple introduced in 2022 are not just great news for your health and fitness routine; they may well save lives.
New Health Features Introduced in watchOS 9
Apple introduced watchOS 9 in September 2022 as a free update for the Apple Watch Series 4 and later. watchOS 9 includes a wide range of features and enhancements for health and fitness.
1. An Improved Workout App
The success of Apple Fitness+ has been driven by the real-time personalized metrics available to users during their workouts from Apple Watch. In watchOS 9, Apple has refined and improved the quantity and quality of fitness data available via your Apple Watch. New features include:
- Heart Rate Zones that allow you to monitor the intensity of your workout.
- Cardio Recovery data to show how quickly you recover from a workout. This is a helpful indicator of cardiovascular health.
- Custom Workouts on Apple Watchenabling you to structure your own workouts with rest intervals.
- New alert types, including heart rate, pace, and power, to guide you through your training.
- An enhanced display that offers you more detailed data during your workout.
2. Multisport Workout Support and Specific Sport Enhancements
Apple introduced multisport workout support in watchOS 9, giving triathletes the perfect tool to track and analyze their performance as they switch between disciplines. Runners will love the new metrics offered by watchOS 9, including Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Pacer Experience, which gives you a pacesetter on runs and allows you to compete against your best time. There’s also support for swimmers, with pool swim workouts and kickboard detection.
3. AFib History Tracking
Since the Apple Watch Series 4, heart sensors have been included in the device’s hardware that can identify potential signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). watchOS 9 saw the introduction of the new AFib History feature.
Now, if you’re diagnosed with AFib, you can delve into how frequently your heart rhythm shows signs of this irregularity and track these insights in the Health app. It also includes lifestyle factors that may have influenced AFib.
4. Sleep Stages on watchOS 9
Sleep tracking was already an important feature of the Apple Watch. Sleep Stages, introduced in watchOS 9, allows you to gather detailed data on all the different stages of your sleep, such as REM, Deep Sleep, and Core Sleep. You can analyze these in the Health app on your iPhone to give a much more in-depth picture of your sleep quality.
5. Medications App on Apple Watch
A new Medications app on watchOS 9 and iOS 16 allows you to track and manage your medications and supplements easily. You can create schedules and receive reminders to take your medications at certain times.
New Health Features of Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 made its debut in September 2022 alongside the Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) and Apple Watch Ultra. In many respects, this model is similar to the Series 7 watch from the previous year, but two new health features built into the hardware differentiate it.
1. Crash Detection With Emergency SOS Calling
Crash detection with emergency SOS calling is a new feature for Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), and Apple Watch Ultra. It’s designed to detect if you’ve been involved in a severe crash in a vehicle. Your Apple Watch will sound an alarm and display an alert with an Emergency Call slider.
If you are unable to respond after 20 seconds, your device will automatically call emergency services. And, if you’ve added emergency contacts, it will also send a message to inform them of your car crash and share your location. Crash detection is just one of several Apple Watch features that could save your life.
2. Temperature Sensor to Help Women Track Menstrual and Ovulation Cycles
Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra feature a new wrist temperature sensor, which samples your temperature every five seconds while you’re sleeping. Algorithms use this data to provide a baseline wrist temperature and look for any nightly changes.
This temperature data has the potential for all kinds of uses in the future. Currently, it’s of particular benefit to women who can use wrist temperature to get retrospective ovulation estimates and period predictions in the Health app.
Additional Health and Fitness Features Exclusive to Apple Watch Ultra
The highly impressive Apple Watch Ultraalso introduced in September 2022, shares the hardware features of the Apple Watch 8, and both watches benefit from watchOS 9 software. However, the Apple Watch Ultra is designed for sports and outdoor pursuits and boasts additional unique capabilities to assist you in your adventures.
1. Depth Gauge and App
The Depth App on the Apple Watch Ultra helps you track your activity underwater. It measures water temperature, depth, and duration underwater, making it perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Another exclusive feature of the Apple Watch Ultra is its 86-decibel siren, which Apple says can be heard up to 600 feet away. When triggered, the siren will sound continuously until you switch it off or the watch runs out of battery. You can use the Apple Watch Ultra’s siren to alert anyone nearby if you’re in distress and need help.
3. Precise Dual-Frequency GPS and Compass App
The Apple Watch Ultra offers dual-frequency GPS, with L1 and L5 GPS combined in a new antenna design. This provides a more consistent signal and greater precision in location tracking. According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra delivers the most accurate GPS in dense urban environments.
The GPS powers the Apple Watch Ultra’s Compass app, which offers a wealth of data, including longitude, latitude, elevation, and incline, all constantly updated as you move.
The Ever-Evolving Health Features Of Apple Watch
It seems that in Apple Watch Ultra and watchOS 9, Apple really has designed the ultimate health companion. When you add the innovations of 2022 to the already impressive suite of health and fitness features offered on the Apple Watch, it’s clear that Apple is continuing to innovate and evolve the potential uses for its wearable tech across its lineup.
From supporting scuba diving and mountain climbing adventures to providing assistance after car crashes, 2022 offered Apple Watch users a wide-ranging set of health and fitness innovations. It’s exciting to consider what the next iteration of the Apple Watch might include.