My Apple Watch detected my Covid 2 days before I tested positive, but said nothing

Sunday September 18, I tested positive for Covid-19. Two days ago, my Apple Watch Series 8 noticed its first signs. Unfortunately, Apple does not provide special notifications.

In my test of the Apple Watch Series 8, published on September 15, 2022, I criticized Apple’s connected watch for being too cautious in using new temperature sensors. The California factory decided to restrict them to monitoring menstrual cycles, when they could technically do more. I conclude the health part of the test with the following words: “After two years of Covid, a watch that can use measurements of heart rate, blood oxygen level and pulse temperature to detect the onset of the disease.”

Am I playing with karma? Three days after writing this test, I tested positive for Covid for the very first time. What inspired me to try was actually my Apple Watch.

Three days of rising temperatures

The new Apple Watch Series 8 has two thermometers. One permanently touches the wrist, the other hides under the screen and is used to calculate the temperature difference in the external environment. This is the first time that Apple has launched a watch with thermometers, while some competing brands, such as Fitbit and Samsung, have already done so.

Can the new Apple Watch take your temperature? Unfortunately not. Wrist temperature is unrelated to that of the forehead, making body temperature measurement approximate. Some brands choose to offer estimates, Apple chooses to do nothing for “Science”. In Cupertino in early September, we were able to talk to brand managers who told us they prefer to play it safe. As a result, there is no “Temperature” app on the Apple Watch. Thermometers are obviously used for predicting ovulation.

The three days of high temperature corresponded to when I got sick. Then I started getting better. // Source: Numeroma

To consult the dimensions of “pulse temperature”, it is necessary to use the Health application on the iPhone. This is exactly what I did on Sunday September 18, after starting to cough and blow my nose two days earlier. Then I noticed a significant increase in the temperature of my wrist for the last three days, while I only experienced a feverish episode the night before. This “trouble” surprised me and prompted me to try it myself. And, there, surprise, I was positive for Covid-19.

In the following days, the fever and headache disappeared, resulting in a return to normality in the application. On Wednesday, I was no longer positive, although I still suffered from some symptoms.

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It takes 5 days for the Apple Watch to determine a reference temperature. Then it can measure the differences. // Source: Louise Audry / Numerama

What Apple Can Do Best With Its Watch

So yes, the title of this article can be misunderstood. No, the Apple Watch Series 8 does not have the ability to scientifically identify a Covid. On the other hand, he could have suggested that on the second day of my rising temperature, I should take a test, or at least tell me that my body is getting hotter. Although this is an option, I would like the option to receive notifications when the Apple Watch detects something surprising in terms of my temperature. This data, combined with data from sleep tracking (which was particularly dense in the days before my test), my heart rate and my blood oxygen level, could allow Apple to send a good advice at a good time. It’s a shame to have such sensors without any artificial intelligence behind them.

It is expected that next year’s watchOS 10 will add many new features to Apple’s thermometers. Again, no one is asking Apple to replace the antigen test or real thermometers. Simply telling users what to see on the watch can help.

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