Apple has big plans for the health capabilities of its Apple Watch, according to a new report. Unfortunately, if you're waiting for the Apple Watch 7, the most impressive features sound like they won't arrive until next year's smartwatch at the earliest.
The Apple Watch 7 is expected sometime this fall, though the exact release date is up in the air amid reports of production delays. But a far bigger blow to would-be Apple Watch 7 buyers is a report by the Wall Street Journal on Apple's health ambitions and how the company's smartwatch fits into those plans.
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The bottom line: Apple hopes to add some very impressive capabilities, though none of them look like they're headed to the Apple Watch 7.
Future Apple Watch health features
Blood-pressure monitoring: A rumor earlier this week suggested that blood-pressure monitoring might find its way into the Apple Watch 7, though Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says there's "no chance" of that happening.
The Wall Street Journal report also suggests that this is a future Apple Watch feature, and that it will revolve around sensors that measure "the speed of the wave a heart beat sends through a person’s arteries." The Apple Watch would use that data to show trends in blood pressure.
A built-in thermometer: The Wall Street Journal targets 2022 as the possible arrival for this capability, which would use a new sensor in the Apple Watch to monitor temperature. The watch's temperature-taking ability would be cast as a fertility-planning feature, as body temperature can help tell a woman when she's ovulating.
Better sleep tracking: The blood-oxygen-monitoring capabilities added to the Apple Watch 6 can log data that might reveal problem with sleep, but Apple wants to get more specific with future watches. To that end, the company wants a future Apple Watch to be able to detect sleep apnea while providing more advanced sleep tracking.
Blood glucose detection: This has been a rumored Apple Watch feature for some time, and the Wall Street Journal confirms that Apple would very much like its smartwatch to be able to detect diabetes. Apple is reportedly studying noninvasive ways to take blood glucose readings, but it hasn't had any success to date.
Should you forget the Apple Watch 7?
So if those improvements are off the table for the Apple Watch 7 this year, does that mean you should also scrap this latest update? Your first instinct may be to hold off on purchasing the new watch whenever it arrives, but that may be a hasty decision.
The right time to upgrade to any device is when you need it. Ever-more-fantastical features will always come in future versions — Apple didn't manage to generate record-breaking sales figures every year by building a device and saying "Well, nothing more to add here."
If you delay every purchase because something better is on the horizon, you're going to put off a lot of purchases.
As the Wall Street Journal article also points out, there's no guarantee that any of these capabilities will make it to a future Apple Watch — merely that Apple is working toward them. A lot of factors have to fall into place for these to become reality, not the least of which is FDA approval for many of these capabilities.
Again, if you're looking for a watch now, it doesn't pay off to wait to see if Apple can meet some very lofty goals.
Besides, the Apple Watch 7 is rumored to have more than a few nice enhancements of its own to make an upgrade worthwhile. The latest smartwatch is expected to come with larger screens than before while also offering a new flat-edge design. Apple could introduce an improved processor too, as well as new health- and fitness-tracking features that have yet to be revealed.
Yes, the Apple Watch of tomorrow sounds pretty impressive based on the Wall Street Journal's reporting. But don't forget about the Apple Watch of this year, either — especially not before Apple gets a chance to show off what's new.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.