CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our wellness advice is expert-vetted. Our top picks are based on our editors’ independent research, analysis, and hands-on testing. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Apple Watch Now Pairs Directly With Dexcom G7 in Diabetes Tech First

The "direct-to-watch" feature eliminates the need to keep your phone near for readings. Dexcom is looking into other smartwatches too, the company's COO says.

Jessica Rendall Wellness Reporter
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health technology, eye care, nutrition and finding new approaches to chronic health problems. When she's not reporting on health facts, she makes things up in screenplays and short fiction.
Expertise Public health, new wellness technology and health hacks that don't cost money Credentials
  • Added coconut oil to cheap coffee before keto made it cool.
Jessica Rendall
3 min read
A woman wearing a Dexcom G7 and Apple Watch

Dexcom G7, a continuous glucose monitoring system that allows people with diabetes to track their blood sugar levels in real time, announced Wednesday it's integrating directly with Apple Watch, so G7 users can leave their iPhone behind and still get glucose insights.

Previously, Dexcom users could view their glucose or blood sugar information on their Apple Watch screen, but they needed to be within Bluetooth-range of their iPhone (Dexcom says 33 feet) so the monitor could connect through the app. In a first, the direct-to-watch feature gives Dexcom users of continuous glucose monitors information and alerts without being in range of their phone. It first rolled out in Ireland and the UK but will now be available to those in the US.

This could make a big difference for people who don't want to carry their phone on a workout, children who use a CGM and anyone else wanting or needing less tie to their phone when managing their diabetes. In fact, having an option to get CGM data directly on your watch, sans iPhone, is "one of the number one requests we've had from our CGM users," Jake Leach, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Dexcom, told CNET.

"CGMs update pretty frequently -- every 5 minutes you're getting a new reading," Leach explained to CNET. "You don't want to feel like you're tethered to your phone." 

CGMs are small medical devices that stick to the body, typically the upper arm, and they measure blood sugar information constantly, displaying information through a paired app, so people with diabetes can manage their glucose levels and take insulin as necessary. Dexcom has an app that's been compatible with smartwatches, including Apple Watch, but using it relied on connection to a smartphone. Because the G7 is built to pair directly Apple Watch's through its own Bluetooth connection, people don't need to keep their phone continuously near at all times in order for the system to run the numbers or issue glucose level alerts. 

Leach said that Dexcom has been working on this feature for a long time and that the Bluetooth channel allowed through Apple Watch paved way for the integration. He said the company is "evaluating" adding more smartwatch integrations, including Android and Samsung watch platforms, but a lot goes into the system being able to function well.

"We made a lot of enhancements in the G7 hardware when we were developing it to enable this functionality," Leach said. This means that people with the Dexcom G7 will automatically have the ability to pair with Apple Watch if they already use the CGM. To pair Apple Watch with Dexcom, you'll need an Apple Watch Series 6 or later model running WatchOS 10 or and an iPhone running iOS 17 or later. (You still need a smartphone to pair the sensor.) 

A woman looking at her CGM information on Apple Watch

Diabetes technology including CGMs like Dexcom G7 are medical devices intended for people with diabetes who take insulin -- this includes Type 1 diabetes, but also some with Type 2 or diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes). CGMs like Dexcom are covered by many insurers, including Medicare, but out-of-pocket costs have a high price barrier at $168 for a month's supply when purchasing on Amazon and using the automatic coupons applied at checkout. 

Smartwatches and smart rings can't track glucose or take blood sugar information directly from your skin, contrary to some devices being sold with inaccurate or counterfeit claims about being able to take this information non-invasively (i.e. without a sensor that gets under your like Dexcom's or Abbott's CGMs), but there has been a growing interest in glucose levels and how they're connected to overall well-being. While Dexcom's integration with Apple Watch is meant for people with diabetes, it represents another step into the diabetes care space that will hopefully make health data accessible to more people and from new angles. 

When asked about whether he sees wearables one day moving into the diabetes tech space of glucose monitoring, Leach said while he's "not going to say it's impossible," providing blood sugar information requires accuracy and reliability and is an "extremely challenging area" of health tech. You can't compare glucose monitoring to the relative simplicity of reading blood oxygen through a pulse oximeter that goes over your finger, per one example he gave. 

"We're not concerned about those technologies at this point," Leach said. "But we do pay attention."

Read more: TikTok Saved My Life. 2 Diabetes Gadgets I Now Use Every Day 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.