Apple Watch Series 4: ECG and Fall Detection

image from Apple

The newly announced Apple Watch Series 4 pushes their smartwatches to be more health-focused. Equipped with an ECG (electrocardiogram) and fall detection, it is the first Apple Watch to have significant improvements over its predecessor and the potential to provide real-world benefits.

image from Apple

Lets go through the basic technical changes:

  • New dual-core 64 bit S4 Processor
  • Larger rounder edge screen with 40mm and 44mm sizes
  • Updated accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Digital crown with haptic feedback
  • Louder speakers
  • Back of the watch is now black ceramic with sapphire crystal.
  • Electrocardiogram

The two features that are really exciting are the electrocardiogram and fall detection feature. The electrocardiogram feature has received clearance from the FDA (this is different from FDA approved). What this means is that the electrocardiogram should be used by someone who is over the age of 22 and should not be used for people who have been previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. It also should not replace any traditional diagnostic tools. The electrocardiogram provides your doctor with information regarding your daily heart rhythm. This has the potential to provide additional insight for your doctor and should be very helpful.

The fall detection feature could help save lives. The watch is now smart enough to detect falls and can notify emergency services if you do not get up. It will also notify any emergency contacts you have on the phone.

Is it worth the $399 price tag? Well, I think that will really depend on the user. It is, however, years ahead of what the Wear OS platform is able to offer. Google really needs to step up on this one.


Qualcomm announces Snapdragon Wear 3100

After two-plus years, Qualcomm has finally announced an update to their ageing Snapdragon Wear 2100. Qualcomm has been working closely with Google and the Wear OS team to create a chipset that is designed for the OS.

With the new Snapdragon Wear 3100, Wear OS is now able to support three different modes: an enhanced ambient mode, a dedicated sports experience, and a traditional watch mode.

Enhanced Ambient Mode

Instead of a low res black and white display in ambient mode, the new enhanced mode will now support a smooth second hand, live complications, better brightness, and up to 16 colors. This will allow the watch to look like a real watch even when in ambient mode while not sacrificing battery life. With the new processor, we can expect 4 to 12 hours of additional battery compared to the previous generation.

Dedicated Sports Experiences

The dedicated sports experience will allow swimmer and runners to be active for a long duration while having sensors like GPU and heart rate monitor turned on. Qualcomm has said that their chip is designed to deliver up to 15 hours of continuous use in this mode.

Traditional Watch Mode

This mode allows the user to use the basic watch functions for up to a week without having to charge the device. This will be great for people who are travelling and might not have access to a charger.

We won’t even need to wait that long to see these watches hit the market.
Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc all have announced that they will have some Wear OS watches with the Snapdragon 3100 by the 2018  holiday season. Montblanc even went a step further to officially announce their smartwatch, the Summit 2. We can expect it to be available in October for around $1000 (ouch).

Montblanc Summit 2
image from Trusted Review

If these new features sound exciting to you (they certainly are for me) I would say the Fossil Group is probably your best bet for a smartwatch that will be priced more reasonably. Hopefully, we will hear from them soon.


Now is not the time to buy a Wear OS watch

If you have been itching to get your hands on a new Wear OS watch, right now is not the right time. Even with the decent deals for the Huawei Watch 2 Classic or the newly announced Skagen Falster 2, I would not recommend buying either of those watches.

Why? Two things. One is the two year old Snapdragon 2100 that these watches are running on. Two, the release of the Snapdragon 3100 in just a couple of weeks away. Any savings you might get now is not worth the battery life and smoother experience a new processor may bring. Even though these theoretical improvements, I’ll bet you there will be additional price drops for existing watches running the 2100.

If you can hold off on getting a smartwatch (and I don’t see why anyone would absolutely need one). Now is the time to stick it out and wait a couple weeks. You never know, maybe you’ll end up with a rumored round Apple Watch instead.