Over the course of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of us finally upgraded from an old-school “where do I stick this?” glass thermometer to an easier to use infrared model for detecting fevers. But those hankering to upgrade their Apple Watch in the Fall could end up with an ever easier fever-detecting tool.
Although by no means a failure when it first launched, over the life of the product Apple has slowly figured out that the Apple Watch’s health-tracking capabilities are one of its biggest selling points. Last year a report from Bloomberg claimed that Apple had originally planned to include body temperature measurements with the Apple Watch Series 7, but that never materialised. Back in May, trusted industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed on Twitter that Apple had cancelled the feature for the Apple Watch Series 7 due to issues with the reliability of the algorithm providing accurate temperature measurements.
Yesterday, a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman appears to reinforce rumours that the forthcoming Apple Watch Series 8 will be the first model to include body-temperature detection, in addition to other health-tracking upgrades. According to Gurman, the “body-temperature feature won’t give you a specific reading — like with a forehead or wrist thermometer — but it should be able to tell if it believes you have a fever.” Most of the time, infrared thermometers are used in a controlled setting like a home, doctor’s office, or hospital, where as a smartwatch is worn and used in countless environments. One minute it can be indoors in the warmth, and the next outside in the cold, which is why intelligent algorithms will be critical to it making accurate assessments about the wearer’s health based on their body temperature, and why it probably won’t provide specific numerical results to users.
In addition to detecting possible fevers and sickness, body temperature monitoring, specifically incremental changes in temperature, is also a useful way to track fertility. A smartwatch constantly monitoring these changes over time could be a much easier way to confirm when the user is ovulating.
But while the feature may be coming to the Apple Watch Series 8, and a potential new rugged edition of the wearable targeted at athletes, Bloomberg also reports that the body temperature measurements probably won’t be coming to a new version of the Apple Watch SE to continue to keep its pricing competitive with cheaper offerings from the competition.