Apple will launch the new Apple Watch Series 7 later this year alongside its upcoming iPhone 13 handsets. Apple has been upgrading the Watch’s health monitoring capabilities with each generation, and the Apple Watch Series 7 will be no different. The wearable is already rumored to sport what could easily be the most exciting sensor ever placed in a smartwatch, although reports are split on whether Apple will launch the feature this year or on the Apple Watch Series 8 in 2022. It’s a blood glucose sensor that could perform passive blood sugar readings and help diabetes patients manage their condition. Apple just sent a survey to some of its Watch customers where it asks specifically whether they use the gadget to keep track of nutrition-related parameters, including blood glucose.
Measuring blood sugar is a tedious, invasive task that involves obtaining a blood sample and using a gadget to get readings. Knowing one’s blood glucose levels is a key aspect of diabetes management. The condition affects more than 34 million adults in the US; a significant portion of them might be undiagnosed. According to WHO statistics, the number of worldwide people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. The novel coronavirus illness might itself have triggered diabetes in some COVID-19 survivors, including children. Diabetes is a significant risk factor in COVID-19, which is why managing blood glucose is more critical right now than ever.
People who have diabetes often require medication, and many of them need insulin therapy. Knowing blood glucose levels is necessary for dosing insulin and having the Apple Watch perform non-invasive readings at all times could also prevent a diabetes-related condition called hypoglycemia. Apple doesn’t disclose plans for next-gen products, but 9to5Mac obtained a survey that Apple sent to Apple Watch users in Brazil that mentions blood glucose monitoring apps.
Apple is asking users to provide feedback on their Apple Watch experiences. The survey asks about the wearable’s health features, including step counting, flights of stairs climbed, and the Workout app. It also asks about third-party apps for managing health data, including tracking workouts, monitoring eating habits, and managing healthcare. Included in that last category are apps for tracking medications and blood glucose levels.
This isn’t enough to confirm that Apple Watch Series 7 will feature a blood sugar sensor. But the blog points out that Apple did send out surveys before containing hints of features that might have been in development. In early 2020, Apple asked iPhone users actually used the power adapter that came with the box — the company ended up shipping its iPhone 12 models without included power adapters later that year. Similarly, a survey asked iPhone users what they thought about using Face ID with face masks on, and then Apple added a feature in iOS 14.5 that lets users unlock the iPhone with an Apple Watch while wearing a mask.
Separately, a report a few days ago said that Apple might have even more advanced sensors in Apple Watch devices. In addition to a blood glucose monitor, the wearable might measure blood pressure and alcohol levels.