Apple Watch gains new heart rate features in watchOS 4

Apple touted a few changes to heart rate tracking for Apple Watch during their September event. Some had expected these features to come solely to the new Apple Watch Series 3, but they actually come to everyone, courtesy of watchOS 4.

Check out our hands on video to see the new features for yourself.

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watchOS 4 brings several new heart-related features to Apple Watch owners. To start, there is a new real-time heart rate complication for your watch face. With nothing but a glance, you can see your last heart rate reading, and how long ago it was taken. So it may show 65 BPM, 8MIN AGO if you have the wide complication, or just the number if you have a smaller complication.

Then there are new measurements and notifications. Now when you launch the heart rate app, you have a couple options to choose between. You have Current, Resting Rate, and then any averages from recent workouts you’ve completed. Each of them will have a graph showing the results throughout the day, and a large, easy to read metric of that value.

Apple is also implementing an optional notification for users. If you have been inactive for the past 10 minutes, but Apple Watch detects a higher than normal heart rate, the app will let you know. They use a combination of the activity your watch records, and matches it to your heart rate readings to trigger these notifications. Of course, this isn’t something everyone is interested in, and in fact, you must turn it on manually from the heart rate app.

All of this health data collected from the watch is also written back to the Health app on your iPhone. The watch is useful for collecting it, but the small screen makes it difficult to discern everything that it displays with much accuracy. You can also learn more about the notifications for abnormally high heart rates and opt to enable it.

Lastly, Apple is launching the Apple Heart Study later this year. They are working collaboratively with Stanford and the FDA to organize this study for all Apple Watch and iPhone users. The study will be available as an app in the App Store for users to download. The goal will be to help watch for heart arrhythmias and irregular heart beats such as atrial fibrillation, possibly being able to help inform people of an undiagnosed heart issue.

Apple clearly sees the value of the Apple Watch as a health monitoring devices. They’ve implemented features such as HealthKit and ResearchKit to help collect vital health data and provide that biometric feedback to doctors and patients. Recently, Apple has also done a lot with diabetes, frequently featuring apps and devices like One Drop and Dexcom.

Will you be participating in the Apple Heart Study when it launches later this year? Let us know down below in the comments.