One of the most popular rumours for the forthcoming Apple Watch Series 7 was the inclusion of non-invasive blood glucose monitoring. Well, a recent Bloomberg report puts the kibosh on that, citing anonymous Apple sources as saying that feature is unlikely to be ready for consumers for “several more years.”
If you’re familiar with the U.S. FDA clearance process, this isn’t much of a surprise as the feature was always a long shot for the Series 7.
Blood glucose monitoring comes with higher stakes, and while some other wrist-based prototypes exist, this would be completely new territory for smartwatches. Ensuring accuracy is one thing, but making sure that that accuracy is up to snuff with global health bodies can be a lengthy process. Currently, the Apple Watch offers integrations with blood sugar monitors in certain regions, like those from Dexcom, so diabetic users can manually input their blood glucose levels. This is the same for Fitbit (which recently introduced blood glucose logging) and Wear OS watches. Traditionally, blood glucose monitoring involves pricking your finger so an accurate, non-invasive method is the holy grail for wearable makers right now.
According to Bloomberg, what we can expect for the Series 7 is a faster processor, improved wireless connectivity, and a better display. More specifically, the screen is expected to have thinner bezels and utilises a new lamination technique that “brings the display closer to the front cover.” It’s also supposedly going to feature the same ultrawideband capabilities as AirTags. (The Series 6 had a U1 chip as well, so whatever these new capabilities, they may not be limited to the Series 7.) As for processors, each iteration of the Apple Watch has featured a faster chip than the last so this is par for the course. This mostly jives with earlier reports from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said the Series 7 would feature an “improved form factor.”
Besides blood glucose monitoring, another feature that’s apparently been pushed back is temperature monitoring. Bloomberg claims that Apple had aimed to include body temperature sensors in the Series 7, but that will now likely show up in 2022 instead. These sensors aren’t as common as PPG heart rate monitors or SpO2 sensors in smartwatches at the moment. However, there’s been a greater interest in temperature sensors since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. In general, only a handful of mainstream smartwatches have them, such as the Fitbit Sense. Right now, you’re more likely to find them on niche fitness wearables like Garmin’s Fenix 6 series, Whoop, and the Oura Ring.
Body temperature sensors aren’t the only updates for 2022. Apple is also reportedly planning to revamp its Apple Watch SKUs at that time with a “rugged” Apple Watch aimed at extreme sports athletes and an updated Apple Watch SE. The rugged watch supposedly has a G-Shock-like casing and could possibly help the company better compete with Garmin, Casio, and Polar, which are preferred by triathletes and other endurance athletes. (It’d need a much better battery, however, to really convince those folks.)
Meanwhile, it’s unclear what an updated Watch SE would have beyond a faster processor. The SE itself is a Frankenstein-mish-mash of the Series 5 and 6’s components but lacked some marquee features like SpO2 readings and the always-on display. We’ll also have to see if a refreshed 2022 Apple Watch lineup means the end of the line for the Series 3. While Apple recently confirmed that watchOS 8 will work on the Series 3, some users have complained that it’s been difficult updating to watchOS 7 on the older watch.
Granted, spring 2022 is still ages away and we’re in the midst of a global chip shortage that’s impacted many product launches already. Apple could change its plans at any time. However, if all this bears out, you might want to consider holding off on upgrading until 2022 if you’ve got a Series 4 or later.