Apple Watch Series 4: Bigger Screens, New Faces, and Enhanced Health Monitoring


(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #1

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/09/12/apple-watch-series-4-bigger-screens-new-faces-and-enhanced-health-monitoring/

Apple has announced the Apple Watch Series 4 models that morph a bit in size and shape and boast larger, edge-to-edge screens. Also new are health-monitoring capabilities courtesy of new hardware—including a Digital Crown that can take an electrocardiogram.


Apple Watch Question
(Tommy Weir) #4

This was the biggest announcement this week. The one thing that excited me. Perhaps a measure also of my health concerns but still genuinely good work here on Apple’s part.


(Adam Engst) #5

Ars Technica has a nice hands-on article from playing with the Apple Watch Series 4 after the announcement.


(Neil Laubenthal) #6

After viewing today’s presentation…I’m thinking that the Series 4 is finally useful enough to make it worth the money. One question I have though…is regarding GPS only or GPS/Cellular.

I believe that the only additional feature the GPS/Cellular model gives you over the GPS only model is that you can leave your iPhone at home…and that if you have both the watch and your iPhone on your person…I’m not likely to go anywhere without my phone…then the two models are then essentially equivalent in features since anything the watch needs data for it just gets from the phone.

Is that correct…or is there another good reason to get the cellular model? From a relatively quick google it appears that the price to have the cellular on AT&T is about $13/month total…and at least a couple of examples I noticed the data usage was something like 5 MB per month in practice.


(Doug Miller) #7

If you have your phone with you always (I do as well, even when I am running), the GPS version will be fine. The few examples I can think of where the cellular is worth having: your phone runs out of battery and you are in a situation where you need to make an emergency call or text. You are in a vehicle accident and the phone is destroyed and you want to make an emergency call. (In the case of making an emergency call, you can buy the Cellular version of the watch, but never activate it with a carrier; 911 calling will still work, even without a carrier plan.)

Or, if you want a stainless steel watch. The GPS only watch comes only in aluminum.

Last year’s Cellular S3 had additional storage for music (16 GB vs. 8 GB, but music on the 8 GB version was only 2 GB, so the 16 GB version allowed up to 10 GB, IIRC), but even the Series 4 GPS version has 16 GB this year.

But, the watch is an additional $100 with cellular and, as you say, and additional $13-$15/month for the plan from your carrier. That’s a lot for a small use case. (Unless, of course, you reach a point where you truly do want to go out an about with the iPhone.)


(gastropod) #8

Neil Laubenthal wrote: “After viewing today’s presentation…I’m thinking that the Series 4 is finally useful enough to make it worth the money. One question I have though…is regarding GPS only or GPS/Cellular.”

Yeah, it’s even better than I’d hoped. From a comment Cook made last year, I expected that the EKG would be on a special band, not built right in, and maybe not this year. It easily justifies the price increase for me. I wonder if the fall detection can also detect being hit by a car? I’m also pleased that the more breathable sports loop bands are available stock instead of as a way overpriced add-on (though maybe the lack of them when I looked yesterday was an artifact of the imminent new model.)

I’m sure there are use cases for cellular, such as not-quite-ultralight backpackers and doing frequent water sports, but it’s a hefty continuing price to pay if having the phone around isn’t irksome.


(Paul Schinder) #9

Yeah, it’s even better than I’d hoped. From a comment Cook made last year, I expected that the EKG would be on a special band, not built right in, and maybe not this year. It easily justifies the price increase for me. I wonder if the fall detection can also detect being hit by a car? I’m also pleased that the more breathable sports loop bands are available stock instead of as a way overpriced add-on (though maybe the lack of them when I looked yesterday was an artifact of the imminent new model.)

Garmin (and others, I think) have various devices that have “crash detection” that send a message to a contact (through a paired phone) if you have an “incident". From what I’ve read, most everyone winds up turning it off because of false positives alarming said contacts when nothing bad has actually happened. I’d worry much more about false positives than anything else, especially if they’re trying to detect “falls”.


(Adam Engst) #10

That was my worry too. In fact, I fell over yesterday on my ElliptiGO on loose gravel on our driveway, a few hours before the presentation. Sprained my wrist a bit and tore a flap of skin on my palm—hurt like hell at first, and I would have been even more furious if I’d had to deal with calling off emergency services while I was dealing with the pain from what was really a fairly minor scrape.


(Richard Rettke) #11

For me the fall detection is as big a reason to get the new Apple Watch as any other single feature. Based on the presentation, I don’t think false positives are an issue. As I understood it, if it detects a fall, it presents the dialogue to call someone in your SOS list. It does not automatically make that call unless no movement is detected for 60 seconds.


(Adam Engst) #12

Yeah, the question will be what happens with the movement. If it stands down on the call after detecting any movement, that’s fine.


(gastropod) #13

Fall detection:

I think the 60 second time period may be too short. In hard falls, you spend some time stunned, and if you do a self test in case of back injury, that means more time being still (unless the watch detects isometric muscle contractions?) without it necessarily being an emergency. I doubt that my first thoughts would be to reassure my watch. (Once upon a time I used to play with, and all too often fall off of, horses…)

Maybe there should be a choice between 1 minute and 5 minutes depending on personal risk factors?

It occurs to me that between the heart sensor and fall sensor, they could be able to diagnose heart failure and tell that to the responders. I expect that’s a lot harder to get through the FDA process though.

That tricorder is just around the corner now…


(Adam Engst) #14

Amusingly, when I’ve fallen while trail running, my first knee jerk (finger jerk?) response is almost always to shut off my watch. Since that’s what you do when you stop. :slight_smile: But with my Garmin, that’s a blind push on the top-right button, so I don’t have to look at the face.


(Alan Forkosh) #15

It’s unclear to me if moving stops the countdown to an alert or whether you must actually push an onscreen button or perform some other specific action to cancel it. The Ars Technica hands-on article (https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/09/apple-watch-series-4-hands-on-sparking-envy-in-current-apple-watch-owners/) noted that fall detection is a default only for those aged 65 or older. Younger folks engaged in martial arts will need to set it themselves :grin:.


(Adam Engst) #16

Nice to hear that Apple put more thought into this feature. I’ve long wondered what percentage of calls to 911 were inadvertently triggered from iPhones and Apple Watches since Apple made it so easy to call.


(frederico) #17

Guilty. I was simply retelling the story of how I was rescued by my Apple Watch when I passed out and could not stand again in the shower, and, oops, sorry 911 operator!


(shay) #18

So according to the specs on the Apple site:
“Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 12 or later. Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS) requires an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 12 or later.”

I presume that means I can use an iPhone SE as it was introduced after the iPhone 6?


(Doug Miller) #19

Yes, that’s right. The same goes for the cellular S3 by the way.


(Dennis Swaney) #20

I was thinking: since the FDA has approved the Watch 4 as a medical device due to its EKG capability, and with blood glucose monitoring being added in a future version, perhaps I can have Medicare and TriCare partially cover my next Watch purchase? Even a $300 limit would help.


(Adam Engst) #21

Some insurance companies are already doing this, with either free or discounted Apple Watches. I think it makes a ton of sense if it can reduce the number of health events that cost vast amounts of money.


(Dennis Swaney) #22

Interesting. The new Medicare booklet for 2019 is coming out soon so I’ll have to see if it says anything under the medical devices section.