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he Apple Watch Series 8 offers a third-generation optical heart rate sensor calculates metrics like calorie burn, resting heart rate, and a heart rate that's too high, and the electrical heart rate sensor can be used for taking electrocardiograms, while LEDs and infrared light enable blood oxygen monitoring. A built-in accelerometer and gyroscope enable other important health-related features such as fall detection.
The Apple Watch can detect a low heart rate, a high heart rate, and an abnormal heart rate, monitoring for health problems like atrial fibrillation and sending notifications when anomalies are detected.
Sensors on the back of the Apple Watch enable the blood oxygen monitoring feature available in the Apple Watch Series 8. Blood oxygen saturation in a healthy individual is around 95 to 100 percent, and when the percentage of oxygen in the blood drops below that, it can be indicative of a serious health issue that needs immediate attention.
Green, red, and infrared LEDs shine light onto the blood vessels in the wrist, with photodiodes measuring the amount of light reflected back. Apple's algorithms then calculate the color of the blood, which is an indication of how much oxygen is present. The Series 8 can measure blood oxygen between 70 and 100 percent.
Electrodes in the back of the Apple Watch and the Digital Crown work together to allow users to take single-lead electrocardiograms. An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart and can be used to diagnose health conditions by a doctor.
ECGs are captured by holding a finger on the Digital Crown of the Apple Watch and can detect a sinus rhythm (normal), an abnormal result, or, sometimes, an inconclusive result that should be shared with a doctor. The ECG is able to detect atrial fibrillation at heart rates above 100 beats per minute.
A single-lead ECG like the Apple Watch means there are two points of contact measuring the electrical sensations of your heart. Clinical electrocardiograms done by your doctor can have six to 12 leads for greater accuracy, but the Apple Watch offers the convenience of being able to take an ECG anytime anywhere in approximately 30 seconds.
The Apple Watch Series 8 models can be worn at night to keep track of your sleep. It monitors when you're awake and when you're asleep, letting you know how much time you spent in the REM, Core, and Deep sleep stages. Sleep tracking also lets you know how often you've woken up in the night and for how long.
Updated motion sensors and an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm allow the Apple Watch Ultra to detect a severe car crash and alert emergency services. After a crash is detected, the Apple Watch will check in with the user and then dial emergency services after a 10-second period with no response. It will also alert emergency contacts.
Apple added two temperature sensors to the Apple Watch Series 8, including one that measures the temperature at the wrist and one that measures the ambient temperature in the air to cut down on outside bias.
The temperature sensor is used for the Depth app, but its main purpose is for women's health. It is able to take temperature readings every five seconds when the wearer is asleep, aggregating the data in the Health app. Temperature fluctuations can provide data on overall health, but it is also useful for fertility planning.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is able to deliver retrospective ovulation estimates, letting them know when they might have ovulated for better cycle tracking. Apple says temperature sensing will also improve period predictions for those who menstruate.
Apple advertises "all-day" 18-hour battery life for the Apple Watch Series 8 models, which can be increased to up to 36 hours with a new Low Power Mode added in watchOS 9.
Apple bases "all-day" battery life estimates on 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback via Bluetooth. For LTE models, Apple assumes four hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone. In some situations, the Apple Watch will drain faster, such as during calls or workouts.
The Apple Watch Series 8 can fast charge with Apple's Magnetic Fast Charger USB-C Cable and an 18W or higher power adapter. Just eight minutes of charging can provide up to eight hours of sleep tracking.
Apple Watch Series 8 models are equipped with an Apple-designed W3 chip, and there are two variants available: GPS and GPS + Cellular. GPS + Cellular models have a built-in LTE chip and can connect to LTE without an iPhone, while GPS models are Wi-Fi only.
LTE connectivity has been available since the Apple Watch Series 3, and with an LTE connection, the Apple Watch is untethered from the iPhone and does not require an iPhone or known Wi-Fi network for an internet connection.
The Apple Watch is still not entirely independent from the iPhone, because LTE connectivity through a carrier requires an Apple Watch and an iPhone 6s or later to share a cellular plan with the same carrier. The Apple Watch also does not have the battery capacity to be used constantly without an iPhone nearby.
The Apple Watch Series 8 continues to feature a U1 chip, which is the same Ultra Wideband chip that first debuted in the iPhone 11 lineup. The U1 chip enables highly accurate short-range wireless that Apple says supports new experiences like Car Keys, the feature that allows an Apple Watch (or iPhone) to be used in lieu of a physical car key.
The U1 chip also allows the Apple Watch to track AirTags.
LTE connectivity enables an international Emergency SOS feature that was first released with the Series 5. With Emergency SOS, the Apple Watch can make international calls to emergency services regardless of where the device was originally purchased or if there's an active cellular plan.
That means if you're traveling to another country and are injured or in a situation where you need help, you can activate the SOS feature on the Apple Watch by holding down the Side button to automatically get in touch with that country's emergency services. International emergency calling works with the Apple Watch's fall detection feature, so if that's enabled, it automatically places an emergency call if the watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless afterward.
Apple Watch Series 8 supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. Compared to Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth 5.0 offers longer range, faster speeds, larger broadcast message capacity, and better interoperability with other wireless technologies.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch since the Series 2, and all Series 8 models, LTE and non-LTE, feature a GPS chip that allows the Apple Watch to determine its position without needing to be near an iPhone.
With GPS, the Apple Watch is able to keep tabs on speed, distance, and route when you're walking, running, hiking, or biking, providing more insight into your fitness activities. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS systems are supported for positioning technology across multiple countries.
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