Apple Watch Series 4 with built-in ECG

Think that it was the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max that stole the show at yesterday’s Apple event? Nope. The real innovation isn’t in creating a smartphone that costs over $1,000 . The real innovation is in building a wearable that can save lives.

There has been no shortage of industry pundits who thought that Apple couldn’t move out from the shadow of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs was seen as the ideas guy, while current CEO Tim Cook has come across more as a caretaker, given the job of squeezing as much revenue as possible out of iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Also: Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR: Features and specs compared

But yesterday Cook showed that Apple is headed in a new direction. And that direction is a wearable that not only enhances lives, but can also save lives.

I’m talking about the Apple Watch Series 4 and it’s ability to keep a close eye on the wearer’s heart.

This is big. And this takes Apple is a new direction.

Of everything I saw unveiled at yesterday’s event, this seemed like the biggest game changer of all. Heart health is key to, well, life. As my ZDNet colleague Jason Perlow discovered, the existing Apple Watch Series 2 is good at detecting things that may otherwise go unnoticed or even be missed by existing screening.

Not only can the Apple Watch now pick up on high and low heart rates, it can pick up on irregular heartbeats. To top things off, Apple has built an electrocardiogram device right into the Apple Watch Series 4.

Yes, that’s right. You can get an ECG done in 30 seconds by just holding your finger against the Digital Crown.

All this from a device that has a starting price of $399.

And not only that, but it can detect if the wearer has a trip or fall, and can even call the emergency services.

I’m not usually blown away by technology, but if this works as well as Apple says it does, this blows me away.

The new Apple Watch seems to me like a device that takes Apple in a new directions. Yes, sure, Apple is still about selling iPhones and expensive accessories and renting users movies and music to fill our time, but there’s now little doubt that Apple is in the business of saving lives.

Also: Apple Watch 4: Why digital health’s future depends on Apple finding a cloud partner

And that generates the sort of publicity that no amount of money can buy or fanboy zealotry can generate.

Yesterday Apple moved from under the shadow of Steve Jobs, and it did it in an understated and refined way. There wasn’t even a “one more thing.” Apple’s COO Jeff Williams dropped in new heart health features and built-in ECG like he was introducing new bands for the Apple Watch, instead of introducing features that will save lives.

For some, this will be the most life-changing product that Apple has ever made.

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