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Currently, your Apple Watch learns about calories you burn by applying some math magic to your heart rate readings and values obtained from its sensors.
The method provides reasonably accurate estimates of resting/active calories. However, even more precise calorie-burning readings could come soon if Apple decides to enable the hardware feature which can reportedly measure oxygen levels in your blood.
As an iFixit teardown has identified, the Apple Watch heart rate sensor has onboard hardware for detecting blood oxygen saturation.
“Apple’s heart rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph—it looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn’t claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level,” noted iFixit.
The wording doesn’t necessarily imply that iFixit has found a discrete pulse oximeter sensor. Therefore, it’s also possible that the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor already uses pulse oximetry to determine heart rates.
But the again, surely the California firm would have bragged about the fact in marketing materials, on its website, in the Apple Watch User Guide and throughout other places.
A little backgrounder on pulse oximetry for those not in the know.
Pulse oximetry is basically a non-invasive method of accurately measuring one’s pulse by monitoring oxygen saturation in the blood stream.
Ahead of the official Apple Watch introduction last fall, some Chinese media curiously claimed the wearable device would include optical sensors to measure both heart rate and oxygen levels in blood.
Then there is the case of Michael O’Reilly, M.D., who left his position in July 2013 to take on a role at Apple. He was formerly the Chief Medical Officer and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo Corporation, helping the company develop several pulse oximetry devices, including the iSpO2 Pulse Oximeter which connects to the iPhone.
In addition to O’Reilly, the Cupertino firm has hired a number of people with expertise in pulse oximetry, vasculature visualization (vein finding), non-invasive glucose monitoring, blood chemistry monitoring via micro needle and heart/breath rate monitoring.
If enabled via a software update—I’m guessing Apple is awaiting an FDA approval for this—your Apple Watch could monitor the oxygen content of your blood by measuring how much infrared light is absorbed.
A biomolecular engineer and sensor design expert explained on Reddit how the Apple Watch already provides a reasonable estimation of your resting and active calories:
The sensor detects a blood oxygen concentration, and can reasonably approximate the volume because it can be guessed from the amount of flow through the slice of your wrist that the sensor “sees” and the lag time between when you start to lose blood oxygen and the time your heart rate starts to increase.
That lag gives you the circulation time from the wrist to the hypothalamus in the brain, which is approximately some known percentage of the total length of circulation. So you can back calculate the total length of circulation to fill in the “missing piece” of the equation.
As mentioned before, pulse oximetry monitors the perfusion of blood to the dermis. Skin perfusion, a measure of how much blood flows through your skin, varies significantly from one person to another and can also be impacted by the environment.
That being said, the amount of oxygen in a person’s blood—coupled with the heart rate and the time interval—directly relates to how many calories are burned.
Enabling the supposed pulse oximeter through software would give the current-generation Apple Watch an additional data point. In turn, this should improve the accuracy of heart rate monitoring and provide more accurate estimates of the calories burned as well as a number of other key fitness and health metrics.
Source: iFixit, Reddit
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A Korean report claims that an Apple Watch blood sugar sensor will be included in the Series 7 device, when it is launched later this year.
With health applications a major selling point of the Apple Watch, it has long been expected that the Cupertino company would want to expand its medical capabilities …Background
When Apple first launched the Apple Watch, the company primarily marketed it as a convenient way to view and respond to notifications. It fairly quickly became apparent, however, that it was the health and fitness features which were driving sales, and Apple adapted its messaging and product development focus accordingly.
CEO Tim Cook had initially suggested that the company would be cautious in adding medical capabilities to the watch, as it feared that the need for FDA approval could hold back innovation.
We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it — maybe an app, maybe something else.
Responding to customer demand, however, Cook changed his mind. The company added ECG functionality to the Watch in 2023, including Afib detection – and last year saw blood oxygen saturation added to the capabilities of the Series 6.Apple Watch blood sugar sensor
A blood sugar sensor would be an obvious next step. The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 10% of Americans have diabetes, and that over 26 million of them are undiagnosed. Adding a blood sugar sensor to the Apple Watch could play a hugely valuable role in prompting formal testing, diagnosis and treatment.
An ET News reports claims that both the Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will be able to measure blood sugar when each is released later this year.
Samsung Electronics will be equipped with a blood glucose measurement function in the new smart watch ‘Galaxy Watch 4’ (tentative name) to be introduced in the second half of this year. It is a no-blood sampling method that detects the level of glucose in the blood without blood collection using an optical sensor, and is expected to contribute to the health management of the general public as well as diabetics […]
Not only Samsung Electronics, but also Apple is applying the blood glucose measurement function to the Apple Watch 7 to be introduced this year. With the related patent technology secured, it is focusing on ensuring reliability and stability prior to making the technology available.
It’s not clear at this stage whether the existing infrared sensor will be able to act as a blood glucose detector too. You can already buy affordable home test devices that sync to your iPhone and Apple Watch, but these rely on small pin-pricks. The current focus is on non-invasive detection, and this can be achieved via infrared sensors.
The heartrate sensor in all Apple Watches is capable of acting as an O2 sensor, but Apple reserved this feature for the Series 6. Even if it turns out that the same sensor could measure blood sugar too, the company may take the same approach and make it a Series 7 exclusive feature for marketing reasons.
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KGI Research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a timeline indicating that Apple is planning a massive rollout for multiple new products in Q3 2014. According to the Kuo, the only thing we can expect to see in the first half of the year is a small iMac update. Starting at the end of the third quarter and continuing into the beginning of the fourth, however, Apple will update most of its product lineup: iPad Air and mini, the Apple TV, and the MacBook family.
Two new products reportedly planned for this timeframe are the iWatch, which Kuo says will be available in two different sizes, and the long-rumored 4.7-inch iPhone. The 5.5-inch iPhone that was reportedly delayed due to manufacturing issues with the display is said to be coming near the end of Q4, making it the last release for this year.
An interesting note on the iPhone 6 design also appears in the KGI report:
Power button location changed for first time. Our understanding is that iPhone 6’s power button might be moved from the top to the side. We think this change is meant to facilitate one-hand operation and might indicate new application that require more frequent use of the power button.
Moving the power button from the top of the phone to the side would certainly make sense if the new phone is going to be much taller than the iPhone 5.
The note also predicts that the iWatch will be available in several different styles (in two sizes, as mentioned above), with an emphasis on design and fashion:
Fashion is the name of the game; most expensive model likely priced at several thousand US dollars. Referring to the rules of the fashion market, we predict the iWatch casing and band will come in various materials. The most expensive model of the iWatch line will carry a price tag of several thousand US dollars. Assuming the iWatch proves to be a success, we expect Apple’s key competitors in 5-10 years will be the current fashion brands, not the existing tech companies.
Interestingly, Kuo suggests that the iPhone 6 will sport an NFC chip—an idea that was quite popular several years ago but in recent update cycles has fallen by the wayside in favor of Touch ID and other enhacements.
Apple to offer all-new design 4.7” and 5.5” iPhone 6. Although the 5.5” model will have higher resolution (1,920×1,080/401PPI) than the 4.7” (1,334×750/326PPI), due to same proportion in terms of length and width, it is good for APP compatibility. Specifications common to both models will include A8 processor, LPDDR3 1GB, LTPS panel, in-cell touch, Touch ID (fingerprint identification), 10-20% narrower bezel, 6.5-7.0mm thickness, NFC chip with security element and metal casing. [Italics emphasis added]
Other iPhone 6 predictions state that only the 64 GB version of the 5.5-inch model will include a sapphire Touch ID cover due to supply issues.
The larger iPhone will be positioned as a “phablet” device rather than a “smartphone” and will include a much larger battery. According to the KGI prediction, the larger iPhone’s battery capacity could be as much as 50-70% higher than the 4.7-inch model, though the battery life would be similar due to the extra power required for the larger display.
The camera in the iPhone 6 is also said to remain at 8 MP but will get a longer exposure time to improve quality:
iPhone 6 rear camera still 8MP and f2.2 aperture same as iPhone 5S, but OIS will increase exposure time. iPhone 6’s rear camera won’t have pixel and aperture upgrade, but the adoption of OIS will increase exposure time, which can improve image quality. We think this change will indeed produce better photos than just increasing pixel number.
The report notes that Apple is believed to be working on a 12.9-inch iPad to fill out the rest of the lineup. This device won’t be announced this year, but is said to be something Apple is considering. A new user interface is also rumored to accomdate easier input on the larger screen:
We believe Apple is working on a 12.9” iPad to generate new growth momentum. Apple will want to boost shipments and profits by offering a better entertainment and productivity experience with a 12.9” iPad. But we think this product is unlikely to come out this year. With the 12.9” iPad, we think Apple will come up with a new user interface that’s more innovative and intuitive, so that input will be as efficient as a device with keyboard.
KGI is usually pretty reliable on the product details in reports like this, though the timing is sometimes less accurate.
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If you ever see a plane that looks as though someone has stuck a large handle, or a giant push-button on the top, then what you’re seeing is an AWACS: a military aircraft that provides countries with an eye in the sky to take a sneak peek from far away at other nations’ aircraft, missiles, ships, and vehicles.
Of course drones or satellites can also accomplish those tasks. But satellites especially can be much pricier than a plane, and they are just eyes: they cannot jam enemy radars, for example. Meanwhile, an AWACS—that stands for “airborne warning and control system”—can do that, thanks to the host of electronic warfare equipment it carries.
The newest AWACS is called the GlobalEye. The plane itself is a Bombardier Global business jet, but Swedish defense company Saab has equipped it with an Erieye ER radar. That’s the 26-foot-long, 1.1-ton “handle” on the top of the plane.
Americans will recognize Saab as a car-maker, but the company actually launched in 1937 as the manufacturer of aircraft for the Swedish Air Force (hence its name, which is an acronym of Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, or Swedish Aircraft Company). They started making cars 10 years later. Saab sold its vehicle business to General Motors in 2000, and since then has concentrated on the defense sector. Amongst its most notable products are the Gripen combat fighter, the Gotland Class submarine, and the Carl-Gustaf rifle.
So why put a radar on top of a plane when there are powerful ground radars? Because however powerful a ground radar, it cannot cope with the fact that the Earth is curved— and so a missile flying low will not be seen until a few minutes before it hits its target. If the radar is up high, it will have a higher angle of view, and so can detect a low-flying missile or aircraft 20 minutes before it hits the target.
“Most radars detect and measure objects by emitting a very short impulse of an electromagnetic wave that is reflected back by the objects in question,” explains Odile Adrian, who develops radars for French company Thales. “They can ‘see’ in all weather conditions, day or night, several hundred miles away and can distinguish between something that is moving and something that is still,” she adds. They can also measure the object’s distance, the azimuth (the compass direction), elevation (height above ground or sea level), the speed of movement, and what the military call its “signature,” or its shape.
Erik Weinberg, senior director radar solutions at Saab, explains that the wave must also not lose too much intensity absorbed by water vapor as it travels through the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as atmospheric attenuation. “The choice of radar frequency depends on what you need it for,” Weinberg says. “For long range surveillance, which requires low atmospheric attenuation, the L or S bands are best if you can have a large antenna such as the Erieye.”
Between the two types, the S band is harder to jam thanks to its “small beam and ultra low side lobes,” Weinberg says.
To picture what “side lobes” are in radar, imagine a flashlight. In that case, the side lobes would be like the light spilling out on either side of the main beam. If there’s a lot of spilled light, then your beam is easier to spot by the enemy. “But,” adds Weinberg, “the S-band is more complex to use.”
Petter Bedoire, head of electronic warfare at Saab, explains that they’ve developed GlobalEye because “there has been a dramatic change over the past 10 years,” with the growth of sophisticated jamming equipment. Jamming turns a clear picture into a useless, heavily pixelated one. In order to make it difficult to jam, the beam being emitted by the radar must be as narrow as possible.
In addition to the main radar on top of the plane, the GlobalEye can heft a maritime surveillance radar under its belly, as well as a third radar system designed to spot a moving target on the land, such as a pick-up truck, and then precisely indicate its position to a combat jet or ground troops— which could then attack it.
Saab is creating these planes with a specific user in mind: the United Arab Emirates, which will fly three of them once they’re ready. Future customers buying the jet will be able to decide which combination of radars they’d like, although it always comes with that key Erieye “handle” on top.
1. Editor’s Choice – SmartCards Plus Spaced Repetition
Flashcards are a student’s best friend, and this app gets them right. It is designed to help you retain information longer with lesser effort, so it’s ideal for all kinds of learners. You can easily create custom flashcards with text images and sound or import decks from other flashcard apps.
The sophisticated algorithm predicts when you are likely to forget a card and shows it to you schedules daily reviews to prevent this. The cards that you become familiar with are shown less often, and this optimizes the learning process. Keep track of your progress with eye-catching charts and statistics.
Price: Free (SmartCards+ Premium – $9.99)
2. The Calculator
No matter what you’re studying, a calculator app is handy for so many reasons. This one is super easy and reliable for all kinds of calculations, whether they are simple everyday ones or scientific ones.
Further, you can even dictate equations with your voice and save, copy, and share calculations. There are seventy themes you can choose from for a customized look.
Price: Free (In-app Purchases start from $0.99)
3. Trivia Crack
Check out this fun Apple Watch game that’s perfect for learning. There are hundreds and thousands of exciting questions, and you can create your own too. Let Willy the spinner wheel select which questions you’ll answer from six different categories.
Challenge your friends and classmates and show off how smart you are. The interface is engaging and easy to use. The cute characters, bright colors, and various unlockable achievements will ensure you have fun while increasing your knowledge.
Price: Free (In-app Purchases start from $0.99)
4. Elevate Brain Training
As the name suggests, this learning app for Apple Watch is sure to elevate your brainpower. It’s designed to improve your focus, speaking abilities, processing speed, memory, math skills, English, and more.
Moreover, it gives you a personalized learning program that will focus precisely on the areas you want to improve in, whether it’s math, memory, vocabulary, etc. It features 35+ games that will sharpen your cognitive skills. The clean and minimalist interface only adds to the experience.
Price: Free (In-app Purchases start from $3.99)
5. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Bulky physical dictionaries may be a relic of the past, but a digital version is still essential in any student’s arsenal. This one is America’s most popular one, with many great features and word games to make things fun.
There are quizzes to build your vocabulary, a word-of-the-day feature, audio pronunciations, an integrated thesaurus, voice search, and more. It’s a must-have for English language reference, education, and vocabulary building.
Price: Free (Remove Ads 1-year Subscription – $2.99)
6. Todoist: To-Do List & Tasks
Student Life is busy, and this productivity app is excellent for staying on top of things. It makes it easy to capture and organize tasks when they come to mind, set deadlines, due dates, and reminders to manage them all.
Further, you can prioritize your tasks and sort them with boards. So, whether it’s for a school project or a personal endeavor, you can view everything from here. Assign tasks to others and collaborate with ease too.
Price: Free (Todoist Monthly Premium – $3.99)
8. myHomework Student Planner
Here’s a must-have app for college, high school, and middle school students. It’s a homework helper that contains plenty of features to track classes, homework, tests, and assignments.
It supports time, block, and period-based schedules. Plus, it’s designed to help increase focus and reduce anxiety. It allows you to streamline your assignments and keep track of them efficiently. It has a beautiful appearance and a simple interface that makes it easy for anyone to use.
Price: Free (In-app Purchases start from $0.99)
9. Focus Time Management
Focus is one of the best time management apps for Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It helps you get more work done, working in highly efficient work sessions, one task at a time.
It works on the Pomodoro technique of working in short bursts of 25 minutes, then taking a short break to relax your mind. This technique maximizes energy, stimulates creativity, and promotes a sense of achievement. So, it’s a must-try for students looking to focus better.
Price: Free (Focus Monthly – $4.99)
10. Cheatsheet Notes
Life is busy, and there are tons of little pieces of information to remember daily . This app makes that more comfortable – no more fumbling to access your notes app. Just glance at your Apple Watch to see your most-needed info like ID numbers, license plate, etc.
It boasts a simple Ui to manage your cheats and over 200 icons to help you know what you’re looking for. You can add, edit, and delete cheats right from your wrist for convenience on-the-go.
Price: Free (Cheatsheet Pro – $4.99)
11. MindMapping – MindMeister
Mind-mapping apps can be an excellent learning tool, and here’s a perfect one for your Apple Watch. Students can use it to generate, build-upon, organize and prioritize their thoughts and ideas.
With the Personal plan, you can create and edit unlimited mind maps to create visual representations for your studies and everything else. You can also add files and images to topics. It syncs and works well across your devices and with a browser-based interface.
Price: Free (Monthly Personal Subscription – $5.99)
12. iStudies Pro legendary Planner
There are icons to indicate different class types and extracurricular activities. You can also mark different courses with colored labels. From showing your day-to-day schedule to assignments and exams, this app shows it all on your wrist.
Price: Free (Weekly Plan – $0.99)
13. Class Timetable Schedule App
Class Timetable is another excellent app for school, college, and university students. It makes it easy to keep track of classes and add events to your week’s schedule with ease.
See your timetable presented in an elegant week-view display and sync your timetable across iOS, macOS, and watchOS. Further, stay on top of homework with the built-in task list.
Price: Free (Pro Upgrade – $1.99)
14. Flashcards by NKO
Here’s a flashcards app that’s an engaging tool for students and teachers around the world. It allows you to create rich text formatted flashcards with pictures and download millions of flashcards created by experts in various subjects.
Organize cards into folders, keep track of your progress with each deck, and share your decks with friends using synchronized) folders, email, or iTunes. There are also 16 studying/testing games for a fun element.
Price: Free (In-app Purchases start from $0.99)
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Mehak has a master’s degree in communication and over ten years of writing experience. Her passion for technology and Apple products led her to iGeeksBlog, where she specializes in writing product roundups and app recommendations for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on her MacBook Pro, she loves being lost in a book or out exploring the world.
There was an uncomfortable calculation to make in the early days of subscription music services. Why pay a monthly fee for your music when you could just pay once and own it? Beats Music leveraged handpicked playlists designed for finding new music and rediscovering favorites. That became the differentiating factor for Apple when it absorbed Beats in 2014 to create Apple Music.
Now Apple has a number of algorithm-generated playlists similar to Spotify with New Music, Friends, Get Up!, and other mixes. These are fantastic for finding old favorites and new tracks from artists you enjoy, yet it’s a new mix on an original idea that has me pumped for Apple Music these days.
Last August, Apple Music dropped the Beats moniker from its Beats 1 streaming radio station, replacing it with Apple Music 1 while introducing Apple Music Country and Apple Music Hits stations.
I grew up in the TRL era of MTV and love everything from the greater blink-182 universe (Boxcar Racer/+44/Angels & Airwaves/Simple Creatures), so the Mark Hoppus hosted show called After School Radio on Apple Music Hits was made for me. Listening to the show live at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesdays has since become a highlight of my week, and the songs from it regularly lead me to discover artists, albums, and entire discographies.
I already subscribe to Apple Music (now through the Apple One bundle with iCloud and TV+), and the integration with Radio is pretty good. I can stream the show in the car with CarPlay, on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV with the Music app, or even with just my Apple Watch with the Radio app. Apple Music Radio is also available on the web.
I regularly find myself saving songs to my library directly from the Now Playing screen during the show. If I like the artist or song enough, I’ll go back and play through the full album or add more music from the artist to my library. It’s made the Recently Added section in my Music app the most active it’s ever been, frankly.
This show in particular also has a great format that includes weekly artist interviews and a regular panel of hosts who share music industry insight. It plays like a music podcast with relevant songs interlaced with the interview and conversation. If Apple Music and Apple Podcasts offered the tools, I would love to re-create my own version of a show like it with friends and songs on the service.
All three Apple Music Radio stations are free to stream live from the Music or Radio app, and Apple Music members can listen on-demand after the broadcast as well.
Now that I’m routinely interacting with Apple Music Radio, I’m also reminded of all the feature requests we had when it was Beats 1 all those years ago. Push notifications for shows, offline playback for episodes, and an easy way to follow favorite shows would be great features for members.
Listening live is easy once you learn the schedule, but listening on-demand requires digging through the Music app. I used the share sheet to grab the URL that redirects to the section of the Music app for my convenience and sanity. 🥸
This weekly two-hour radio show totally changed how engaged I am with Apple Music all these years later. There’s no question that the value of Apple Music for me is in removing friction in finding new music and playing it from anywhere. Here’s to hoping After School Radio has a long home on Apple Music.
Updated on April 12 with new start time at 2 p.m. changing to 7 p.m. ET starting April 13.
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