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Doubling Down on Health

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By: Rom Feria

Apple’s September 2018 event announced updates to their most personal product categories, the iPhone and the Apple Watch. With the exception of the dual-SIM support and new A12 Bionic chip on the new 2018 iPhones, namely iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, there is really not much to be excited about with this line up. It is indeed a S-year, similar to iPhone 4s, 5s, etc. However, the more exciting new update is the Apple Watch Series 4.

The Apple Watch Series 4 has a bigger and better screen, with a 2mm increase in display! The new 40mm and 44mm Series 4 models support the 38mm and 42mm bands, respectively. Whilst the bigger and better screen is a good enough reason to upgrade, the better reasons lie under the hood.

Apple’s next generation Silicon in Package (SiP) S4 chip provides twice the performance of the previous model. Heck, I am still on Series 2 and I am sure that this new one will be 4 times faster for me! Anyway, this new chip allows the Watch to collect and process sensor data faster. As an example, the new S4 chip allows the Watch to detect and analyze falls — yes, when you slip, trip or fall from a ladder — it will then decide to call your emergency contacts (and emergency services) after a preset time, if you don’t respond. This is a feature that is nice to have, but hope you will never use. However, this feature alone is perfect for those prone to falling, specially the elderly. Personally, I think this is the first of its kind available on a consumer device.

The Apple Watch differentiates itself from other fitness bands, by having better sensors to monitor your health. The Series 4 doubled down on this. The optical heart sensor can now accurately determine the possibility of atrial fibrillation, or irregular heart rhythm.

Apple did not stop on the optical heart sensor. The Apple Watch Series 4 now has an electrical heart sensor. Similar to the ones used in hospitals to do electrocardiogram (ECG), the Watch’s electrical heart sensor that rests on your wrist, paired with the sensor on the Watch’s Digital Crown completes a circuit when you touch the crown with your finger. This allows the watch to capture ECGs (yes, there is a third-party band that can do the same thing — but this one is on the watch), and save it on your iPhone’s health record, which you can export as PDF for sharing with your doctor later. This new sensor, in my opinion, blows all other fitness bands and smart watches out of the water!

The health improvements on the Apple Watch Series 4 is unmatched from any of the existing competitors in the market today — not the fitness band, nor the Android and Tizen smartwatches. However, the health function is simply recommendatory, i.e., it should not be taken as a replacement of actual specialized medical devices, even if the Apple Watch Series 4 has FDA approval. Having access to it and knowing your heart’s health is better than not knowing it at all.

Apple Watch Series 4 comes with better speaker, re-engineered Digital Crown with haptic feedback and built-in sensor, but with the same battery life. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

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