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The Apple Watch Series 6 is finally here, and Apple fans now get a chance to see what was upgraded. On the surface, the new Watch looks very similar to the Series 5, especially when it comes to things such as appearance and battery life. However, the Series 6 has several new features of its own (helped in part by watchOS 7) that do make it a marked upgrade. Here’s what you should know about if you are wondering about a potential upgrade!
The New Blood Oxygen Sensor
One of the biggest hardware upgrades that the Apple Watch 6 gets is a retooled blood monitoring system. This system uses harmless LED lasers to examine the quality of your blood through your wrist and provide helpful data. Now that data includes a blood oxygen sensor, which helps detect how much oxygen is in your blood at any moment.
This information can be accessed from the Health app or a dedicated blood oxygen app on the Watch. What’s even more helpful, is the Watch can take periodic readings throughout the day and show how your blood oxygen rates are progressing.
We know that in the age of COVID-19, it’s tempting to use these readings to watch for any potential problems with lung activity, but Apple cautions that the data is not the same as medical advice, and shouldn’t be used to fully replace readings from a true pulse oximeter if you are feeling sick.
A Bright Always-On Display
When Apple fully adopted an Always-On Display for the Series 5, it was widely heralded as a great move. This feature allows messages, alerts, and the clockface to always display, along with some app information for keeping track of updates.
The display shows this stuff even when it hasn’t been activated by movement or unlocked. That’s the good part: The bad part is that the display in the Series 5 was dimmed down a lot. Apple didn’t want the always-on feature to waste battery life or be disruptive, but the end result was so dim that it was very difficult to see out in the sun.
The Series 6 fixes this problem by making the dimmed-down display brighter when it shows information. The awake version of the watch will still have the same brightness, only the dimmed always-on version has been changed, and it really does help when there’s a lot of ambient light around.
New Fast Charging Capabilities
The Watch Series 6 also comes with welcome improvements to charging. Fast charging is now supported, and charging speeds overall have been improved so you can get the Watch back on your wrist as soon as possible.
This is especially important in certain situations, such as giving your watch a quick charge before a run so you know it will last, or ensuring the watch will be able to monitor your sleeping patterns throughout the night without running out of juice (something that wasn’t easy to guarantee before).
However, there’s an important limitation: The fast charging capabilities are only designed to work with the included power adapter, no other charging methods (yet). You’ll have to plug it in to really see the results.
A Real-Time, Accurate Altimeter
Sure, older Series of the Apple Watch included an altimeter, but it was limited and not useful for the very purposes that wearers might want an altimeter handy.
The Series 6 altimeter has been completely remodeled with a power-efficient version that uses combined data from GPS and Wi-Fi to track exact positions – and do it in real-time.
Add in the right Watch complication, and you can see your altitude change foot by foot depending on where you are. The Health App can also record this information and show it over time so you can get a running idea of the altitude.
This is now especially handy for hikers and cyclists that can use this data to track their route and performance. It’s also great for mountain climbers getting accurate information of the heights they’ve scaled, people learning how to read topographical maps, and a variety of other situations.
Raise to Activate Siri
In past Apple Watch Series, users who wanted to talk to Siri generally had to give the “Hey Siri” command or interact with the Apple Watch in some way to get Siri to start listening. With the Series 6, Siri updated now allow you to activate the voice assistant just by lifting your arm. That’s it. Just lift the Watch to your mouth and give the command, like a futuristic dystopian leader. But if that doesn’t seem like the right feature for you (accidentally commanding Siri while waving your arms around is a possibility), then you can always turn it off in Settings.