The Apple Watch Series 8, which will retail starting at $399, includes two temperature sensors, one near the skin on the back of the device and one under the front display. Apple said that these sensors can reduce bias from the environment, and that nighttime body temperature changes can be used to estimate when ovulation occurred. Temperature data can also improve period predictions.
The new device also includes crash detection, which uses a new gyroscope and accelerometer to detect potential accidents and check in with the user. If they’re unresponsive after 10 seconds, the Watch can alert emergency responders and contacts with location data.
The lower-priced Apple Watch SE, which will start at $249, will include the basic activity tracking, high and low heart rate notifications, and emergency alert features, including the new crash-detection tools. All devices using the new iOS16 and watchOS 9 can alert users if their period-tracking history shows a deviation, like irregular cycles or spotting.
The tech giant also unveiled the Apple Watch Ultra, geared toward endurance athletes and outdoor explorers. It includes the new temperature sensing and crash-detection features alongside tools for diving and water sports and a more accurate GPS. It will retail for $799.
The Apple Watch Series 8 and the SE will be available Sept. 16. The Ultra will be available Sept. 23.
THE LARGER TREND
Earlier this summer, Apple previewed new health features for watchOS 9 and iOS16, including atrial fibrillation history, medication management and more tools for sleep monitoring.
Period tracking and privacy have become hot topics in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Some privacy experts have raised concerns that data could be used to determine if the user has had an abortion. Many popular period-tracking apps already share data with third parties.
Apple first added cycle tracking three years ago. The company said that when a user’s iPhone is locked, health and fitness data is encrypted on the device and can only be accessed with a passcode, Touch ID or Face ID. When using the default two-factor authentication and a passcode, health data backed up to the cloud is end-to-end encrypted, so Apple cannot read it.
“Only with your explicit permission can your health data be shared, and you have granular control over the types of data you share and who you share it with,” said Dr. Sumbul Ahmad Desai, vice president of health at Apple.
There’s plenty of competition for health and fitness tracking wearables. Google recently announced three updated Fitbit wearables, the Inspire 3, Versa 4 and Sense 2. The tech giant also plans to release its own branded smartwatch this fall.
Others in the space include Amazon, Samsung and Garmin.