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Apple Watch Series 6 launches with Blood Oxygen Sensor

And a few other improvements

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If you ask most tech reviewers, the Apple Watch is the consensus best smartwatch right now. Such a distinction doesn’t stop the company from making it even better with the Apple Watch Series 6.

Blood Oxygen

New to the Apple Watch Series 6 is the addition of blood oxygen or SpO2 sensor. It’s a feature that’s been a staple into some smart bands and other smartwatches since 2019. It also plays a key part in our battle against COVID-19. Doctors say you should be concerned if SpO2 levels drop below 92-93 percent. 

The Blood Oxygen sensor employs four clusters of green, red, and infrared LEDs. This compensates for natural variations in the skin and improve accuracy This is also aided by four photodiodes on the back crystal of Apple Watch, to measure light reflected back from blood.

Apple Watch then uses an advanced custom algorithm built into the Blood Oxygen app, which is designed to measure blood oxygen between 70 percent and 100 percent. On-demand measurements can be taken while the user is still, and periodic background measurements occur when they are inactive, including during sleep.

All data will be visible in the Health app, and the user will be able to track trends over time to see how their blood oxygen level changes.

Most importantly, Apple will work closely with investigators at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network. It is one of the largest health research organizations in North America. This will help the company better understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics can help with management of heart failure.

Improved performance

The Apple Watch Series 6 is running a dual-core processor based on the A13 Bionic chip. This means it’ll run 20% faster than the previous generation while maintaining the same promise of an 18-hour battery life.

It also has the U1 chip and Ultra Wideband antennas for short-range wireless location. This supports features like next-generation digital car keys. Other improvements include faster charging and longer battery life for tracking certain workouts like indoor and outdoor runs.

The Always-On Retina display is now 2.5 times brighter than the Series 5 outdoors. Users can now also access Notification Center and Control Center with their wrists down.

There’s also a n always-on altimeter. It allows for detection of small elevation changes above ground level, up and down to the measurement of one foot, and can be shown as a new watch face complication or workout metric.

Apple Watch Collection

Of course, it’s not Apple Watch without new colors, designs, and straps to choose from.

For the first time, a new blue color joins the silver, space gray, and gold aluminum case options, along with a (PRODUCT)RED Apple Watch with exclusive matching bright red bands.

Stainless steel models are now available in graphite — a rich gray-black hue with a striking high-shine finish — and an updated classic yellow gold color. Apple Watch Edition is available in natural and space black titanium.

There are also three new band styles: Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, and Leather Link wraps.

watchOS 7

The new hardware will be accompanied by watchOS 7. There are new watch face options, new health and fitness features, sleep tracking, automatic hand washing detection, and new workout types.

Also new is Family Setup. It extends Apple Watch to the entire family by allowing kids and older family members of the household who do not have an iPhone to benefit from all it has to offer.

Pricing and availability

  • Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) starts at $399 and Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular) starts at $499.
  • Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) is available to order today from apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning Friday, September 18, in the US, Puerto Rico, and 27 other countries and regions.
  • Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular) is available to order today from apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning Friday, September 18, in the US, Puerto Rico, and 21 other countries and regions.
  • Apple Watch Nike is available to order today from apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning Friday, September 18, in the US, Puerto Rico, and more than 27 other countries and regions. For more information, visit apple.com/apple-watch-nike or nike.com/applewatch.
  • New Apple Watch bands are available to order today from apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning Friday, September 18. Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop in (PRODUCT)RED will be available in late October. Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop are compatible with Apple Watch Series 4 and later.
  • watchOS 7 will be available for Apple Watch Series 3 and later on September 16, and requires iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14. Not all features are available on all devices.

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Xiaomi’s foldable phone spotted in the wild

Is this a prototype?

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Everyone’s getting into foldable smartphones these days. After Samsung’s semi-successful foray into the market, other smartphones are rushing to compete with the South Korean giant. One of the earliest experimenters with the form factor, Xiaomi is apparently making strides in the foldable market. In China, Xiaomi’s foldable phone was spotted out in the wild.

In a now-deleted Weibo post (saved by GSMArena), the leaked phone is a whopper of a device. It’s obviously that Xiaomi’s foldable phone since it runs MIUI 12. It looks a lot larger than Samsung’s Galaxy Z lineup. However, it’s large enough to wield in a subway, as the photo portrays.

Whatever this is, it doesn’t look like it’s doing well. The device has a sizable crease running along its midsection. Back in the Galaxy Fold’s early days, Samsung had the same problem before fixing it in later iterations. Since the technology already exists, it’s likely that the spotted Xiaomi device is an early version of whatever the company is actually working on.

Xiaomi has teased an upcoming foldable phone in the past. However, the company has not outed a consumer-friendly foldable phone outside of prototypes. The last time we heard about a potential Xiaomi foldable phone was an old patent revealed last year.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi patents an upcoming foldable phone

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Samsung will remove the free charger from more phones

Confirmed in an official Q&A

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The cat’s out of the bag. After months of persistent rumors, Samsung has finally ended its free charging adapters and wired earphones starting with the Galaxy S21 series. The controversial decision mimics Apple’s identical ones last October. One question remains, though: Will Samsung remove the free charger in other smartphones? Apparently, yes.

In an official Q&A with Samsung’s officials, the company explained why it chose to remove the free charger from the flagship series. As expected, Samsung is taking the same stance as Apple; that is, everyone already has a bunch of extra chargers lying around anyway. Further, the removal will help in Samsung’s sustainability goals for the future.

However, in explaining their stance, Samsung has revealed its plans for the future. “To support our Galaxy community in this journey, we are transitioning to removal of the charger plug and earphones in our latest line of Galaxy smartphones,” Patrick Chomet, executive vice president of product and innovation, explains.

Besides the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung is likely phasing out the free chargers in future models, too. Thankfully, if you haven’t acclimated to the charger-less future yet, the company is not changing last year’s smartphone packaging; not yet at least, according to online store pages.

If Samsung is truly removing its chargers for future models, we’ll know soon enough. Unlike Apple, who releases smartphones more sporadically, Samsung launches numerous models throughout the year. After starting the year off with a charger-less bang, 2021 is going to be an exciting roller coaster for flagship users.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series Hands-on

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Trump administration blacklists Xiaomi, 10 other Chinese companies

Xiaomi headed the Huawei way?

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The US has added Xiaomi and 10 other Chinese companies to a blacklist amid national security concerns. The current blacklist is only focused on companies that have military ties and strategic importance in China.

The Defense Department released names of additional “Communist Chinese military companies” operating directly or indirectly in the United States.

Although adding Xiaomi to the list is surprising, the company has largely remained apolitical and focuses on making affordable smartphones. Considered to be China’s answer to Apple, Xiaomi plays a crucial role in progressing China’s telecommunication industry. It surpassed Apple in global smartphone sales in the third quarter, according to IDC.

Xiaomi is China’s second-largest smartphone maker and dominates multiple developing markets like India. Xiaomi’s stock plunged more than 10 percent following the announcement, although it’s considered to be a knee-jerk reaction at the moment.

The ban means that Xiaomi risks getting delisted from global benchmarks like MSCI and American stock exchanges. Just last week, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom were removed from MSCI indexes. This largely affects their ability to raise capital from the open market in the future due to global compliance complications.

In response, a Xiaomi spokesperson told GadgetMatch, “The Company has been in compliance with the law and operating in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations of jurisdictions where it conducts its businesses. The Company reiterates that it provides products and services for civilian and commercial use. The Company confirms that it is not owned, controlled, or affiliated with the Chinese military, and is not a “Communist Chinese Military Company” defined under the NDAA. The Company will take an appropriate course of actions to protect the interests of the Company and its shareholders.”

Other companies banned

Apart from Xiami, the additional companies blacklisted include Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment, Luokong Technology Corporation, Beijing Zhongguancun Development Investment Center, GOWIN Semiconductor, Grand China Air Company, Global Tone Communication Technology, China National Aviation Holding, and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).

Furthermore, the ban is a stepping stone for US authorities to curb Chinese companies’ growth in the international market. The US took a similar step with Huawei and gradually pushed it out of every possible industry. Today, Huawei can’t use Google Mobile Services, cannot ship phones to the US, and has lost significant ground in supplying 5G equipment to telcos worldwide.

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