Next Apple Watch update may include blood oxygen measurement

Andrea Park -

The next iteration of the Apple Watch wearable device might have the ability to measure blood oxygen levels and alert users to low blood oxygen saturation, or hypoxemia, which can increase the risk of respiratory or cardiac arrest.

The potential new feature was discovered in snippets of code from the next update to Apple's operating system, iOS 14, as viewed by Apple-focused news outlet 9to5Mac. The code reportedly shows a new health notification that would alert Apple Watch wearers whose blood oxygen levels have been below a certain threshold for an extended period of time.

Though it is unclear whether the new feature would require a total hardware upgrade or just a software update, 9to5Mac reports that existing Apple Watches are believed to already have the capability to measure blood oxygen levels. This capability is likely available through the wearable's built-in heart rate monitor, which currently sends alerts upon detecting both above- and below-average heart rates.

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