Next Apple Watch to detect stress and warn you about panic attacks

Insiders claim future version of watchOS could help protect your mental wellbeing

Next Apple Watch to detect stress and warn you about panic attacks
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch can already warn its wearer about the signs of atrial fibrillation and call for an ambulance if you fall over. Now Apple wants to focus on your mental health, too.

According to sources speaking to technology tipster Max Weinbach, Apple is working on a way for the Watch’s watchOS software to detect the signs of stress. This could even lead to the smartwatch alerting its users if it thinks they are about to have a panic attack.

The Watch could then walk the wearer through some breathing exercises to help calm them down again.

Apple already includes a guided breathing app with the Watch, with reminders to take a break and breathe deeply several times each day. But it sounds like Apple wants to be more proactive with how the Watch does this, using data collected from the wearer to judge their mental wellbeing, then step in if required.

The new function is also said to record when stress and panic attack symptoms arise, tracking them in the Apple Health app for analysis. This gathering of data is also said to help the app better predict future panic attacks, helping the wearer control them before they arrive.

According to Weinbach’s sources, the new feature will be available on all models of Watch from the Series 4 onwards. You’ll recall this was the first Apple Watch to include ECG hardware, and also introduced fall detection for the first time.

It also looks like this feature is a little while away. Instead of appearing as a part of watchOS 7, which is expected to be shown off by Apple in June ahead of being released to the public in September, the mental health features will come later.

It is likely that the feature will work in a similar way to the Garmin Vivosmart 4. That fitness tracker uses its heart rate monitor to understand the variability of intervals between each beat, which is automatically controlled by the body’s nervous system.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.