The next generation of Apple Watch could feature a brand new health feature in the form of blood oxygen level monitoring.
This is according to 9to5Mac, which has seen indications of the new feature in a snippet of code from iOS 14, the iPhone software due to be released by Apple this autumn.
The new feature would join the smartwatch’s existing heart rate monitor and ECG app, giving the wearer even more health data and issue alerts if their blood oxygen levels fall dangerously low.
It isn’t clear for now if the feature would require new hardware, or if today’s Apple Watch Series 5 is already capable of taking the measurement, once updated to the upcoming watchOS 7 software in the autumn.
If not, then the code hidden in iOS 14 suggests blood oxygen monitoring will be a major new feature of the Apple Watch Series 6, which is expected to be announced alongside a new family of iPhones in September.
Measuring blood oxygen levels is important, as the figure can provide an insight into a person’s health. A reading of 95 to 100% is considered healthy, but if blood oxygen levels fall - known as hypoxemia - a person can experience headaches and a shortness of breath.
If the levels fall below around 80-percent, the person could suffer from reduced heart and brain functionality, as not enough oxygen is carried by the blood around the body.
The next Apple Watch - and the new watchOS 7 software - is also expected to include integrated sleep tracking for the first time.
We should hear more about watchOS 7 at Apple’s annual WWDC developer event, which normally takes place in June. However, there are concerns that the event might be cancelled, or made online-only.