Apple says new $519 watch has FDA approval, touts health gains

Apple says new $519 watch has FDA approval, touts health gains

Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, speaks about the new Apple Watch Series 4 at the company's product-launch event in Cupertino, Calif., on Wednesday. The Apple Watch Series 4 introduces larger displays in new 40-mm and 44-mm models, a faster system-in-package for more responsive wrist computing, a case that's both thinner and better-suited to letting cellular transmissions and other radio waves through, and a sophisticated heartbeat-sensor array that can keep an eagle eye on just how well your ticker is ticking. And if you compare the new 44mm model, it's 32 percent larger than the 42mm Apple Watch Series 3. Apple is also dropping the price of Series 3 watches to $279 immediately.

The speaker on Series 4 is 50 percent louder, and Apple moved the microphone to the opposite side of the watch to reduce echo and improve call clarity, Williams said. With Series 4, Apple will add notifications if your heart rate is too low, which could signal that you're not circulating enough blood throughout the body.

You can pre-order an Apple Watch Series 4 starting September 14, and expect it to ship or show up in stores on September 21.

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According to Williams, even with all the new features, the Series 4 would have the same 18-hour battery life as its predecessors. The product will come in gold, silver and space gray models, with three aluminium finishes and three stainless steel versions. It also comes in stainless steel: polished, space black, and gold stainless. Apple brought American Heart Association President and cardiologist Dr. Ivor Benjamin on the stage, who said the feature could be valuable for some folks. The cellular version will be available at $499.

An app unlocking the wrist-based ECG functionality will be available to US consumers later this year. The ECG capability, available later this year, helps the device sense atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. All bands that worked in previous models still fit the new Apple Watch. With the redesigned Apple Watch Series 4, it will automatically detect if you've fallen and ask you if you want to send an Emergency SOS.

There are a few new watch faces designs, but they all seem too noisy for my tastes. S4 is available September 21 with preorders starting Friday.

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"Identifying a fall may sounds like a trivial thing but it takes a lot of data", Williams said.

The device has also received a clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to be used as a medical device. Perhaps the one-day battery life is the reason why Apple has yet to add an always-on display feature to its smartwatches.

Apple (AAPL) on Wednesday announced a significant update to the Apple Watch sporting significantly larger displays with an FDA-approved EKG feature.

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