Apple Watch 8 health sensor upgrade ‘is a go’

Apple Watch 8 renders
(Image credit: Jon Prosser)

The upcoming Apple Watch 8 could feature a brand new body temperature sensor, according to reliable Apple tipster and Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman.

Writing in this latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman doubles-down on the claim that the new sensor will debut this year after previously facing some uncertainty. “I now believe the feature is a go for both the standard Apple Watch Series 8 and a new rugged edition that’s aimed at extreme sports athletes,” Gurman writes. 

“It’s unlikely to be available in the new version of the lower-end SE, which is also coming this year,” he adds — which is unsurprising given the need for cost saving and the importance of having something to upsell potential buyers.

To be clear, it doesn’t sound like the integration is going to actually display your temperature as a classic thermometer would — at least not in Apple’s own integration (app makers may have more access). Instead, it will alert you to big temperature changes indicating you may have a fever and then recommend getting a second opinion via a dedicated thermometer or your doctor.

This could reflect the difficulties of getting an accurate temperature read out from the wrist, which isn’t the optimal place to get a reading. As analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote when discussing Apple’s ongoing difficulties with the feature: “The challenge in implementing precise body temperature measurement is that skin temperature quickly varies depending on outside environments. A smartwatch can't support core temperature measurement in terms of hardware, so it needs an excellent algorithm to work together.”

In other words, Apple may not feel confident enough in its measurements to reveal the hardware’s guess of your exact temperature, but it should be sensitive enough to detect the big changes associated with a fever. Whether that means it’s not accurate enough for areas where more precision is required — like fertility tracking or recovery guidance for athletes — remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, Gurman predicts that any hardware changes “will probably be minor”, with the same processor as present on the last two generations of Apple Watch. There is, however, hope for undefined improvements to the screen on the higher-end models. “I’m hoping they’re brighter,” Gurman added.  And one promsinig rumor point towards the Apple Watch 8 having a boosted battery life thanks to a rumored low power mode. 

Read next: The Apple Watch 8 just got tipped for huge 2-inch display.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.