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Apple Watch Series 6 unveiled: 'The future of health is on your wrist'

The tech giant's newest Apple Watch looks a lot like its old Apple Watch, but the company says there's more to it than that.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
3 min read

The new Apple Watch Series 6.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple's  popular smartwatch is getting an update, called the Apple Watch Series 6, with a key new health sensor, as well as features focused on making the gadget easier to use with kids. The new sensor for the Apple Watch can measure your blood oxygen level in 15 seconds, Apple said, and will also track your blood oxygen in the background. The feature adds to 2019's Apple Watch Series 5, which Apple used to introduce technology that enabled an always-on display, turning its Watch into more of a watch, as opposed to the wrist computer some people consider it to be.

"The future of health is on your wrist," Apple said in one of its promo videos.

Apple also announced new services for the device that are focused on health and family. The company showed off a new service called Fitness Plus, which offers a variety of weekly workout routines for $9.99 (£9.99) a month. Ross Rubin, an analyst at Reticle Research, likened it to "bringing the value part of the Peloton equation anywhere."

Read: Here's how to install iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 and how to prep your device now.

In addition, the Apple Watch will have a feature called Family Setup, allowing parents to set up their children's watch to help track their kids' location and control who they talk to using iMessage. The feature requires a cellular version of the Apple Watch, but it doesn't require a child to have an iPhone.

Preorders for the new Apple Watch began Tuesday, and it'll be available Friday, starting at $399 (£379, AU$599).

Watch this: Apple Watch Series 6 introduces new watch faces

Apple unveiled the new Apple Watch  during the company's annual fall product announcement event, which was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Apple also used the event to reveal its latest iPad  and Apple One bundles of services, among other things. Here's everything Apple announced at the event.

The company typically announces a new iPhone

at its September event, but this time it's expected to push that unveiling to October. We have a good guess as to when the iPhone 12 will be announced. The new device is expected to be the first iPhone that supports superfast 5G wireless technology. But Apple has reportedly struggled to ensure it can make enough of the phones to keep up with what's expected to be big demand.

The iPhone 12's launch typically coincides with the release of the company's latest iPhone software update, which is made available for free to nearly all active iPhone users. This year's updates focus on making the device easier to use, with new small apps, called widgets, that can be placed on the home screen to always display updated data. Apple is also trying to make it easier to sort through apps, and it's updating its text messaging service to help people "pin" the most important chats to the top of their list so they're easier to find.

The Apple Watch, similarly, will be accompanied by the release of WatchOS 7 today. Apple's latest software for the device was announced in the summer and slated for release this fall. The biggest changes to that software include new capabilities for watch faces and easier ways to share the watch faces you make -- features that people including CNET's Scott Stein have been clamoring for. The device will also offer new programming to help track your sleep.

Since the Apple Watch's debut in 2015, Apple has expanded health-tracking features, adding, for example, a heart monitor. It's also waterproofed the gadget for swimming and added the ability to track various activities, from yoga to running. It's added family-friendly features, too, such as fall detection

The Apple Watch Series 6 wasn't the only wearable device the company announced Tuesday. Apple also unveiled a lower cost Apple Watch SE, for $279 (£269, AU$429), and cut the price of 2017's Apple Watch Series 3 to $199 (£199, AU$299).