My Apple Watch detected Covid two days before the test result, but I didn’t say anything

On Sunday 18th September, I tested positive for Covid-19. A couple of days ago, my Apple Watch Series 8 detected the first signs of this. Too bad Apple didn’t provide special notifications.

In my test of the Apple Watch Series 8, published on September 15, 2022, I criticized the connected Apple Watch for being too cautious with its new temperature sensors. The California manufacturer decided to limit it to monitoring menstrual cycles, when it could technically do more. The health part of the test concluded with the following sentence: “Two years after Covid, a watch that could use measurements of heart rate, blood oxygen levels and wrist temperature to detect the onset of the disease would be great.”

Have you played with karma? Three days after writing this test, I tested positive for Covid for the first time. What prompted me to take the test was precisely the Apple Watch.

Three days of high temperatures

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

Can the new Apple Watch give you your temperature? Unfortunately no. The temperature of the wrist has nothing to do with the temperature of the forehead, which makes the measurement of body temperature very approximate. Some brands have chosen to provide estimates, Apple has chosen not to do anything on behalf of ” Science “. In Cupertino in early September, we were able to discuss with the brand managers who told us they’d rather play it safe. As a result, there is no Temperature app on the Apple Watch. Transparent thermometers are only used to predict ovulation.

The three days of high fever correspond to the time you got sick. Then it started to improve. // Source: Nomirama

To consult with measurements wrist temperatureHowever, it is necessary to use the iPhone’s Health app. That’s exactly what I did on Sunday 18th September, after I started coughing and blowing my nose a couple of days before. Then I noticed a noticeable rise in my wrist temperature for the past 3 days, while I had only had a fit of fever last night. This “chaos” surprised me and prompted me to test myself. And there, surprisingly, I tested positive for Covid-19.

In the following days, the fever and headache disappeared, returning to normal on the application. On Wednesday, I was no longer positive, although I still had some symptoms.

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It takes your Apple Watch 5 days to set a reference temperature. Then the differences can be measured. // Source: Louise Audry / Numerama

The best Apple can do with its watch

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

Hopefully next year watchOS 10 will add a lot of new features to Apple’s thermometers. Again, no one is asking Apple to replace antigen testing or real thermometers. Just telling users what the watch sees can be helpful.

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