As expected, Apple today announced the next-generation Apple Watch at its press event. The Apple Watch Series 4 comes with a new design and a handful of new features that will make the smartwatch more useful than its predecessors. Apple has focused on improving the communication, fitness, and health capabilities of its smartwatch with the latest generation.

Design

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The new smartwatch’s back is mode of black ceramic and sapphire crystal. This allows radio waves to easily pass through the front and back in order to improve cellular service. The watch’s Digital Crown provides haptic feedback now thus providing a more mechanical feel through the sensation of incremental clicks.

Without making any substantial changes to the case design, Apple has managed to increase the display size by up to 30 percent on the new smartwatch. The display has been pushed to the edges and rounded to seamlessly integrate in the case. It will be offered in 40mm and 44mm sizes.

The user interface has similarly been updated for the larger display. The icons and fonts are bigger while the complications have been enhanced to provide more information at a glance. Apple’s next-generation S4 chip is under the hood with a custom 64 bit dualcore processor that can deliver twice the speed of its predecessor while providing all-day battery life.

Features

One of the core new features of the Apple Watch Series 4 is the ability to take an Electrocardiogram or ECG. Apple pointed out during its press event that this is the first ECG product that’s approved to be sold directly to consumer over the counter. It relies on the electrodes in the Digital Crown which work in tandem with the new electrical heart rate sensor to provide a heart rhythm classification in 30 seconds.

It analyzes the signals and can even alert the user if there are signs of Atrial Fibrillation. All ECG recordings, classifications, and noted symptoms are saved in a PDF in the Health app so that they can easily be shared with doctors.

Apple Watch Series 4 is big on heart features. Its operating system, watchOS 5, intermittently analyzes heart rhythms in the background and then sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm is detected. It can also provide alerts if the user’s heart rate exceeds or falls below a specified limit.

Fall Detection is a feature that’s also new to the Series 4. It uses the smartwatch’s new accelerometer and gyroscope that’s capable of measuring up to 32 g-forces with custom algorithms to identify when a user has had a hard fall. It will send the user an alert after the fall on the device which can either be dismissed or used to call emergency services. It will automatically call emergency services if the watch senses immobility for 60 seconds after the notification.

Additional improvements have been made to the fitness features as well. Yoga and Hiking are new dedicated workout types for which the smartwatch can track active calories burned and exercise minutes earned to close out the activity rings.

Connectivity has been improved with Walkie-Talkie, a watch-to-watch connection that brings a new way to communicate over Wi-Fi or cellular. Apple Podcasts lets users listen to podcasts on the watch. The speaker has been improved and the microphone has been moved as far away from it as possible to further improve the call quality on the smartwatch.

Price and Availability

The Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS starts at $399 while the GPS + Cellular model starts at $499. It will be available for pre-order starting Friday, September 14th. Apple will release it on Friday, September 21st.

Filed in Apple >Cellphones. Read more about Apple Watch and _breaking.

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