Apple Watch tipped to get a major new health tracking upgrade

Report says Apple has reached a "major milestone" in blood glucose monitoring

Apple Watch Series 8
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch Series 8 is one of the best smartwatches you can buy, especially if you have an iPhone. But there's one sensor that's been on many people's wish lists for a long time now: a blood glucose monitor. And while that sensor isn't in the Apple Watch yet, it looks like it's coming to a future version of Apple's wearable.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Apple's "moonshot-style project" to bring non-invasive blood glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch has reached a "major milestone" in its development. It's not ready for the Watch just yet – the prototype is apparently the size of an iPhone – but the tech works, and now it's just a matter of making it small enough to fit into a wearable device. Given that the last prototype was apparently the size of a table, that's a process that Apple has already started.

Why blood glucose monitoring is a big win for Apple

For people with diabetes, blood glucose monitoring is crucial – and a pain, because it usually involves a needle. Apple's approach is different. It uses optical absorption spectroscopy, which uses a laser to shine light through the skin in order to determine how much glucose is in your blood. 

The benefits of such a sensor don't just apply to people with diabetes. It might also be able to warn you of pre-diabetic symptoms, which would enable you to make lifestyle changes to prevent those symptoms becoming full diabetes. 

The challenge here isn't just a technological one, though. It's a regulatory one too. Such a sensor is a medical device, and that means Apple would need to get US government approval; according to Bloomberg, Apple's people are already talking to US regulators about just that.

This is a genuinely exciting development, but we do need to curb our enthusiasm a little bit: you're not going to see this sensor in the Apple Watch Series 9 or even the Series 10. But it looks like Apple has cracked the hard bit, which is making an accurate non-invasive sensor. The rest is really just engineering.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).