Although people were initially doubtful and even apprehensive about the purpose smartwatches would play in modern life, the Apple Watch was able to carve out its own niche that its competitors are now trying to catch up with. That niche focuses on monitoring and measuring wearers’ health with the need for dedicated, expensive, and bulky medical equipment, and the latest watchOS 7.2 update brings yet another feature that might not be a lifesaver but will hopefully improve lives anyway.
Ever since watchOS 7, the Apple Watch has already gained the ability to determine whether the user has low cardio fitness, a.k.a. cardiorespiratory fitness. It does so by measuring the user’s VO2 Max, or the rate of oxygen consumption during intense activity, using a combination of the optical heart sensor, accelerometer, and GPS location. Falling below an acceptable range pretty much suggests you’re putting yourself at risk from cardiorespiratory problems.
What’s new in watchOS 7.2 is that you will now be notified by the Apple Watch rather than having to manually go to the Health iPhone app to check your levels. While the figures it offers are technically estimates, the alternative of getting your cardio fitness checked regularly with professional clinical equipment just isn’t feasible for most people.
The update also brings support for Fitness+, one of Apple’s new subscription services. For $9.99, subscribers get access to trainer-led workouts and other health-related information and content. You can’t sign up for Fitness+ without an Apple Watch so its belated arrival is slightly amusing.
Apple has slowly but surely defined what it means to be a smartwatch. While the ability to access apps and services, usually through some AI agent like Siri or Google Assistant, has become a staple feature, it is actually the health-centric capabilities that are making people want an Apple Watch, which, of course, ultimately means investing in an iPhone as well.