Apple unveils Watch Series 9 with new health features

The Apple Watch Series 9 allows users to log and access healthcare data, and to control the Watch by double-tapping their index finger and thumb.
By Jessica Hagen
04:44 pm

Photo courtesy of Apple

At a virtual event today, Apple unveiled the newest iteration of its wearable, the Apple Watch Series 9, which will allow users to access and log their healthcare data and control the Watch using their index finger and thumb via blood flow sensors.  

With new features, users can access their health data through Siri health queries, including asking Siri how much they slept the previous night or their average walking heart rate. Users can also log data using their voice, including their weight or period data and whether they took medication. 

The health queries will be available in English and Mandarin, though Apple says more languages will be added later.  

Siri has also been given a boost, with dictation being 25% more accurate than previous versions, thanks to Siri requests being processed on the device itself instead of going to the cloud for processing. 

The Series 9, which will have double the brightness of the Series 8, includes its own S9 SiP chip, which processes machine learning tasks twice as fast and allows for an 18-hour battery life. 

Notably, the Series 9 will include a new gesture dubbed double tap, allowing users to interact with the Watch by tapping their index finger and thumb together twice. 

Double tap allows users to answer or end a phone call and controls the primary button in an app, so users can stop or snooze an alarm and play and pause music. It also launches the smart stack from the watch face and allows users to scroll through widgets. 

Apple's new 4-core Neural Engine enables the double tap, which uses a machine learning algorithm to detect tiny movements and changes in blood flow when one double taps their index finger against their thumb.  

The California-based company also relayed that it is beating its expectations toward its previously announced initiative of being an entirely carbon-neutral company by 2030. 

The company said it uses recycled and renewable materials during each step of the development and shipping process, including 100% recycled cobalt in the battery, making its Series 9 the first carbon-neutral product Apple has developed.

"[The Series 9] features a magical new way to control your Watch with double tap, faster on-device Siri that lets you securely access health data, precision finding for iPhone and a brighter display, all enabled by the S9 SiP, our most powerful chip ever in Apple Watch. And it's Apple's first-ever carbon-neutral product," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said during the event. 

Apple also announced the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which will include a cycling feature, allowing users to connect Bluetooth accessories to measure cadence, speed and power. A cycling workout on the Watch will appear as a live activity on the iPhone. 

The Series 9 starts at $399, and the Ultra 2 will retail for $799. Consumers can order both products today, with each being available on Sept. 22. 

Apple also announced its new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, though the company made no announcements regarding new health-related features on these products.