Apple Watch 6 news: Two killer features just confirmed

Apple Watch 6
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Apple Watch 6 and watchOS 7 may finally bring sleep tracking and blood oxygen monitoring to Apple's wearables range, with more changes happening below the surface of the Watch.

Israeli tech site The Verifier (via TechRadar) is the one behind these claims, citing anonymous sources within Apple that its worked with for several years.

WatchOS 7 will finally get sleep and blood oxygen tracking this year, The Verifier's sources claim. We can also expect a revamped design of the operating system, along with updated versions of the default apps, and more functions for Siri.

Sleep tracking monitors your heart rate and movement overnight, and uses that to determine how long you slept for, if you woke up at any point, and how deeply you were sleeping. Users can then take this information and use it to improve their sleep routine and habits, such as deciding the optimum time to go to bed or wake up.

Blood oxygen monitoring, also known as SPO2 monitoring, measures the oxygen saturation level of your blood. If your blood oxygen drops below a certain concentration, which can be more likely to happen during exercise, the Watch could then warn you to ease up before you injure yourself.

Unfortunately, the leaks also state that watchOS 7 won't be coming to the earliest Apple Watch models, specifically 2016's Apple Watch Series 2, Series 1 and the original Apple Watch. These older models, which contain hardware incapable of using these new features, will still receive small updates and bug fixes for another year however.

In terms of hardware, the sources claim that we'll see better battery life and better support for LTE and Wi-Fi 6, but also that the Apple Watch's exterior design won't change much. Looking further ahead, the Apple Watch 7 will allegedly feature a sub-display fingerprint scanner, moving the biometrics reader from the Watch's crown. This would be a new form of Touch ID.

Under normal circumstances, the latest watchOS developments would be shown off at Apple's WWDC 2020 event. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused this event to shift to an online-only presentation in June. We'll still likely hear about watchOS 7 during this version of WWDC, but the actual release date of the Apple Watch 6 likely won't be until the fall as per usual. 

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.