The Apple Watch Series 8, which should release later this year, will reportedly feature a new body temperature sensor that can detect, or at least suggest when you have a fever. While the rumors of the new Apple Watch being able to sense changes in the body’s temperature have been doing the rounds for over a year now, this week’s report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman seems to be firm on the new hardware addition, which if confirmed will likely be available on both the Watch Series 8 as well as the long-rumored “rugged” edition for extreme athletes. Although not the more affordable Apple Watch SE.
Aside from the body temperature sensor, it’s looking like we won’t see many hardware changes from the Apple Watch Series 7 to the new generation. According to reports already circulating online, Apple will be using the same chip as they have for the previous high-end Apple Watch.
Reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has revealed in a series of tweets that the Apple Watch Series 7 was actually supposed to feature a body temperature sensor but the plans were scrapped because of algorithmic limitations.
“The challenge in implementing precise body temperature measurement is that skin temperature quickly varies depending on outside environments.” wrote Kuo.
“A smartwatch can’t support core temperature measurement in terms of hardware, so it needs an excellent algorithm to work together.”
If Gurman and Kuo are indeed correct, then Apple has finally come up with an algorithm that meets the company’s high standards. This means a bunch of new use cases for the Apple Watch, more than just being able to suggest when you may have a fever or not.
A body temperature sensor could also, theoretically, be used for fertility tracking since shifts in a woman’s body temperature can help them determine whether they are more likely to get pregnant.
Importantly, if the sensor does get approved by the FDA and is therefore added to the Apple Watch Series 8, then it will still have its limitations. Much like its blood oxygen sensor, the Apple Watch can only make suggestions based on trends or patterns and then recommend further action. So say if the Apple Watch Series 8 detects that you may have a fever, it will then likely prompt you to use an actual thermometer or go to see a doctor. In times like this, when it looks like COVID-19 will be endemic and with us in perpetuity, something like this will be incredibly useful moving forward.
So if the body temperature sensor in the Apple Watch Series 8 actually doesn’t end up happening, just know that it will eventually. Samsung is reportedly also trying to introduce a body temperature sensor to the upcoming Galaxy Watch 5 but, as Kuo has suggested, this is unlikely due to algorithmic limitations.
The body temperature sensor is likely to work in tandem with other hardware and software features for the Apple Watch to better detect, or at least suggest, the early presence of certain conditions. Apple, of course, is unable to claim something like early COVID detection but this is possible in theory.
The current Apple Watch can already detect heart rate variability (HRV), which means the very nuanced variations between one heartbeat and the next. Since Covid has been known to bring a substantial dip in HRV, it’s possible that the Apple wearable can at least alert users to possible early stages of something like COVID. Throw a body temperature sensor in the mix and the accuracy jumps.
The Apple Watch Series 8 will ship with the newly introduced WatchOS 9 and all the new features that come with it. According to rumor and leaks already circulating, the new Apple flagship wearable is unlikely to come with the long-anticipated blood pressure monitor, but we will see all of the updates bought about by the WatchOS 9 update which includes new running features, better sleep- tracking metrics, a dedicated Medications app and an AFib history tool.
As with previous generations, Apple’s updates to each subsequent Apple Watch generation have always been very iterative, with only slight improvements. This is because the company set a very high bar for itself a few years ago with the Apple Watch, so incremental changes have still managed to keep the Apple wearable near the top. when it comes to discussions about the best smartwatches to buy.
With strong competition from the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and the highly-anticipated Google Pixel Watch, Apple is going to have to do more than just introduce incremental changes if the company wants the Apple Watch Series 8 to win over more than just those already in Apple’s famously walled ecosystem. We’ll be bringing you more details, including an Apple Watch Series 8 release date, when they are announced.