The headline feature on the Apple Watch Series 6 was the introduction of its Blood Oxygen app, letting you measure blood oxygen levels or SpO2 from the smartwatch.
While not a new feature for wearables tech, it is a first for Apple. And while it's not a feature designed for health monitoring and medical use (yet), it's another piece of heath data your Apple Watch can track from the wrist.
If you like the idea of measuring blood oxygen from your Apple Watch and don't know how to do it, we breakdown the easiest way to take that first reading and what you can do with the data right now.
Which Apple Watch can take an SpO2 reading?
Right now, the Apple Watch Series 6 is the only Apple Watch that's capable of delivering that blood oxygen data. That's because it's equipped with the appropriate sensor technology to make it possible.
That sensor tech isn't available on the Apple Watch Series SE or older models like the Series 3 and Series 5.
We fully anticipate that the Apple Watch Series 7 will be packing it when that lands though to widen that support.
How to get the Blood Oxygen app set up
The very first thing you need to do is make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch is running the latest software. If you've just bought the Watch that should already be the case. If you're not sure, we've covered how to update your Apple Watch as well.
Once you're all up to date, you'll need to spend some time in the Apple Health app on your phone before you start taking a reading.
Step 1: Open the Health app and look for the prompt to set up the Blood Oxygen app.
Step 2: Follow the prompts to complete the setup that will ensure the Blood Oxygen app is installed and present on your Watch.
Additional information: If for any reason you don't see the option to set things up in the Health app, you can search out the app in the Apple App Store.
How to take an SpO2 reading on Apple Watch
Step 1: Open up the app screen on your Apple Watch. Look for the Blood Oxygen app, which is a white icon with a blue and red line inside of it.
Step 2: Press Start and a reading will take 15 seconds to complete. At the end, you'll see your results.
Step 3: Tap Done and you can view those blood oxygen measurements in the Apple Health app on your phone.
Tips to get a good SpO2 reading on Apple Watch
In general, our experience with taking blood oxygen measurements on the Apple Watch have been very reliably. More so compared to similar sensors packed on rival watches. There are some things to consider to make sure that you make sure you're able to get a reading. They are:
- Ensure the Apple Watch is sat snug and comfortably on your wrist to ensure the sensors are in good position to take a reading.
- Place your arm with the Apple Watch on a flat surface like a table with your palm down and flat.
- Try to stay still. Movement will impact on the reliability of getting a reading.
- Don't try to take readings after exercise or if your heart rate is high (150bpm or higher).
How to view SpO2 data in Apple Health
There currently isn't a way to look at your previous blood oxygen measurements on the Watch, so you'll need to venture back into the Apple Health app on your phone to see all of your readings in one place. Here's how to find your data:
Step 1: Open the Health app and go to the Browse section of the app.
Step 2: Look for Vitals and tap to see your most recent readings. Whether that's heart rate or blood oxygen.
Step 3: Tap on the most recent reading to view Blood Oxygen data across the day, week, month and year.
Step 4: Scroll down to the bottom of the page and tap Show All Data to see every single reading you've taken.
Can you share SpO2 data with other apps?
Right now, there aren't any apps on the Apple App Store that can read and access data generated by the Blood Oxygen app.
When there are apps that are permitted to use the data, you can follow the steps above describing how to view your data and then look for Data Sources & Access and you'll find compatible apps and services.
Additionally, it'll also note the research studies you've allowed to read that data as well, if you choose to participate.