I’ve had my Apple Watch series 6 for a little over a month now, and I can honestly say it’s the best Apple Watch that I’ve ever owned (well, besides the White Ceramic model that I adored, but Apple skipped that material in this years version).
This year, I decided to go with the Apple Watch Edition in Space Black Titanium after spending two years with the Apple Watch Series 4 Stainless. While I like the stainless, it doesn’t hold up well to scratches, dings, and abrasions over time and can look rather beat up after two years of daily usage.
I really upgraded my watch for three main reasons: Blood oxygen tracking, sleep tracking, and the speed of the new versions of the Apple Watch. Let’s check in on each of these and see how I feel about them a month later.
Blood Oxygen Tracking
I was really stoked about Apple adding this feature, which couldn’t have come at a better time with the COVID-19 pandemic raging here in the US. When I first got my watch, I was manually checking my O2 levels a few times a day, but then the newness of this feature faded. Now I’m just letting my watch monitor my O2 levels in the background as I work, as I exercise, and when I wear my watch sometimes when I sleep (we’ll get into this more in the next section). Then, when I’m feeling curious, I’ll check my levels in the Health app on my iPhone, which lets me instantly see high and low O2 levels for any given day, or delve into the day view and see the exact times it checked and what the levels were.
I really like this feature, and think that is has great usefulness, especially when paired with workout or sleep tracking; however, I think it could be improved in two ways. The first is that I’d like to see my O2 levels when I finish a workout activity in the summary screen and then be able to also see those levels when I pull up my activity history in the Fitness app. The second is that whenever I wake up in the morning and get the summary screen, I should also be able to see my overnight O2 levels at a glance. I feel like surfacing this information and making it extremely glanceable would be an improvement over what we currently have in watchOS.
Before Apple announced the sleep tracking features of the Apple Watch, I had been using an Oura Ring to track sleeping activity since the start of 2020. This small device gives a lot of information about your sleep activity, including the time spent in the different phases of sleep and can even track your temperature as you sleep, which can indicate issues with sleep quality in the Oura app.
Going into using the Apple Watch as a sleep tracker, I was expecting some great data points like what Oura can provide; however, I was a bit disappointed with the metrics that the Apple Watch tracks. It gets the basics correct, but I would like to see improved tracking abilities, such as the phases of sleep, movement tracking, quality of sleep, and detailed heart rate tracking during sleep.
The current iteration of Apple’s sleep tracking on Watch is good, but not great, and doesn’t provide insightful data that I can use to adjust lifestyle changes that can affect my sleep. I really hope that either a future watchOS update or another Apple Watch model with better sensors geared towards sleep tracking will be able to provide additional information.
My previous Apple Watch (a Series 4) was beginning to get a little slow with watchOS 6, so I was looking forward to seeing how fast the Apple Watch Series 6 can handle the new updates with watchOS 7.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is more than capable of keeping up with everything that I’ve thrown at it and the new animation times in watchOS 7 makes it feel even snappier on all of the Apple Watch models that support the new OS. Siri activates faster, apps launch faster, and notifications appear faster. Overall, this is a huge improvement since upgrading from a Series 4 Watch.
In conclusion, I am really enjoying the new Apple Watch and all of the features, and cannot wait to see how the features of O2 tracking and sleep improve in the future. I know that it will, it’s just a matter of time.