Tuesday’s Apple event was held virtually and featured a number of announcements focused on enhancing public health during the coronavirus pandemic.


Image: Apple

On Tuesday, Apple held its “Time Flies” event featuring a series of unveilings and product updates. Similar to Apple’s 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the event was also held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event featured numerous unveilings including the Apple Watch Series 6, a new iPad, and more. Apple also announced a series of features focused on enhancing public health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As with many trends, COVID-19 is pulling demand earlier for features and functions that otherwise would have taken years to embed into society,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director in Gartner’s Quantitative Innovation team.

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Earlier this month, Apple released its COVID-19 Exposure Notifications as part of the iOS 13.7 update. Once local health agencies opt-in, individuals can enable the feature in their iPhone settings, as reported by ZDNet. Tuesday, Apple also announced other new features to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

Before the event, there were rumors that the latest Apple Watch would include an oximeter to measure blood-oxygen levels. Blood-oxygen monitoring, also known as SpO2 tracking, could be a helpful and timely addition to the product during the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, as speculated, Apple revealed this capability. The Apple Watch Series 6 will include an oximeter and use red and infrared light to deliver blood-oxygen readings.

“The key to monitoring any health indicator is accuracy and reliability, this changes the device from those that would like to monitor their health for future issues to those that can rely on the device for their current health,” Atwal said.


Apple also announced a hand-washing detection feature. The smartwatch automatically senses the motion of hand-washing and then sets a timer to ensure wearers are washing their hands for a set amount of time.

During the event, Apple announced Family Setup enabling families to connect more than one Apple Watch to a single iPhone at the same time. This feature allows parents to restrict use on a particular Apple Watch. Parents can also receive location alerts and fall notifications; the latter being particularly useful for devices connected to independent older adults who live separately. The Apple Watch Series 6 is available starting Friday.

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In recent months, gyms around the country have been forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic and public health restrictions. On Tuesday, Apple also announced Fitness+ to help individuals with home exercise routines. This “fitness experience” enables Apple Watch wearers to select from multiple different instructor-led workout types including treadmill, cycling, dance, hit, rowing, and more. People can then select a music playlist, choose an instructor, and set a timer for the workout.

Using an iPhone or Apple TV, those so-inclined can attend a virtual workout and visualize their Apple Watch metrics on the screen. After the regimen, people are able to visualize a workout summary to better understand their performance and progress over time. Fitness+ is “coming in 2020,” according to Apple starting at $9.99 per month or $79.99 annually.

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