How the Apple Watch 6 Changed My Life

Never wonder about your blood oxygen level again

Key Takeaways

  • The Apple Watch 6 has transformed my daily life thanks to its excellent display, speedy processor and focus on health. 
  • I love having the ability to monitor my EKG and blood oxygen levels. 
  • For better or for worse, the Series 6 is a taste of the future of personal technology which will monitor and inform our every move.
Apple Watch 6
 Apple

I wanted to hate the Apple Watch Series 6 when it arrived in stores. I’ve been holding onto my battered and beloved Series 3 for years now and saw this latest model as a ploy to separate me from hard-earned cash. 

So what if it’s faster, brighter and can monitor your health in new ways? A watch is a watch even when it’s a smartwatch. At least, that’s what I told myself. 

During a moment of weakness I caved and bought the 6 and realized how wrong I had been. After spending time with the Series 6 I have discovered that while outwardly it looks like its predecessors, the seemingly small iterations that Apple has included in this model makes it a game-changer. It’s a glimpse into the possible future of personal computing that will monitor and inform us in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Even in my short time with the 6, it’s no exaggeration to say that it has changed my life. This might seem like hyperbole but the Apple Watch is the most personal of tech products. It lives next to your skin day and sometimes night. It monitors your intimate health data ranging from an EKG to blood oxygen to your heart rate. In some ways, the Apple Watch knows me better than anyone, including myself. 

So, while it’s possible to argue that no single one of the Series 6’s new features is worth the price of an upgrade, it’s more than the sum of its parts. This is a computer, after all, that can save your life. It has, in fact, saved many people’s lives with its EKG readings, alerting users to heart abnormalities that they otherwise might not have known about. There’s also fall detection which is particularly useful for elderly people. 

Apple Watch 6 showing a fall alert.
Apple 

Healthier You?

Apple has big health ambitions with the Series 6 and, despite some caveats, I think it’s worth taking them seriously. The Series 6 for the first time includes a blood oxygen sensor. The company coyly refers to this sensor as a 'wellness' feature even though blood oxygen levels can help determine the severity of a COVID-19 case. 

Doctors say that you shouldn’t rely on the watch to guide your coronavirus treatment. It won’t replace a physician and you can buy a stand alone blood oxygen monitor for less than $20. But, when I was wheezing the other day and wondering if my cough was due to allergies or something more sinister, it was remarkably comforting to be able to get a quick reading on my watch declaring that my blood oxygen was 99 percent (above 95 percent is considered normal). 

Apple Watch 6 displaying Blood Oxygen information.
 Apple

Big and Bright Screen

It will come as no surprise to anyone who sprung for the previous 5 model but the 6 boasts a big, gloriously bright screen. The difference is incredible compared to models 1-4. My series 3 was useful for a quick peek into texts and notifications and the occasional ridiculous-looking phone call. The 6 is more like having half an iPhone strapped to your wrist. I thought this would be overkill but again, I was wrong. The ability to quickly take in a whole week’s worth of weather data plus the time and how much I’ve moved during the day is amazing. 

For the seriously information-addicted, having so much data available can be like falling into a deep hole of goodness. The dark side, of course, is that maybe it’s not such a great thing to be constantly bombarded with all this stuff. But focus, pocus, I say. 

There are also legitimate concerns about the data going in the other direction. Apple is scooping up a lot of information about you even if they pinky promise it’s going nowhere without your consent, etc. If you don’t think that some day hackers won’t pull down all that health information about you and sell it to insurance companies who will then adjust their rates accordingly, well, you haven’t been paying attention. 

But the benefits outweigh the risks, for me anyway. It turns out that I want to know what my EKG reading is and how my blood oxygen is faring. The constant nudges to move more are particularly helpful in these lockdown times when it’s all too easy to stay glued to the couch. 

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Fitness enthusiast Nicole Headlam works at her local gym and says she uses the Series 6 in her daily fitness routines. "When lifting weights and running, I use the Apple Watch to track my reps, weight, and number of miles I run," she said in an email interview. "There’s nothing I love more than being able to run unattached to my phone. And, with the always-on display, all I have to do is look down at my wrist and I'm able to see how far I’ve been running. The apple watch has not only made tracking workouts more convenient, it has also motivated me to get more active."

Christian Pinedo, founder of Lean With Style, says that the Series 6 has helped him lose weight. "Before I owned an Apple Watch, I thought I had an idea of how active or inactive I actually was," he said in an email interview. "It wasn't until I got one that I noticed how inactive I was and it really pushed me to get up more."

There’s more to a healthy life than just exercise, though. New with watchOS 7, Apple has a 20-second hand washing timer to make sure you’re doing it properly. You can get this feature on other models besides the 6 but I found them to be a much smoother experience on Apple’s latest model. 

The sleep tracking feature was also a nice bonus. As a life-long sufferer of insomnia, it was great to find out how little sleep I was actually getting. (Pro tip: reading doom-laden headlines at 2 a.m. does not help.) The watch offers no easy remedy for sleeplessness but after monitoring the evidence at least I could justify my bleary-eyed state. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of using the Series 6 has been the way it’s changed my view of how personal technology will develop. The Apple Watch no longer is a mere displayer of information. It’s taking data from you, whether it's heartbeats or blood oxygen levels, and processing all that knowledge. This is clearly the future. 

How will all the data that’s being collected get used? It’s a scary thought. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic that technology like the Series 6 will be more of a help than a threat.