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Apple confirms Watch OS update tweaks heart rate monitoring

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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you’re an Apple Watch owner with a keen interest in your health and fitness, you might have noticed some odd changes in heart rate monitoring since the rollout of Apple Watch OS 1.0.1. Apple has confirmed that these changes are intentional, and the device is now monitoring heart rate less regularly as a deliberate feature rather than a bug.

Back in the days of Watch OS 1.0, heart rate was recorded every 10 minutes. Now — as users had noticed and Apple has now confirmed with an updated support page — readings aren’t taken as frequently if your arm is moving or your whole body is in motion. The tweak is probably aimed at eliminating erratic readings during exercise, but not all users are happy.

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As Apple has already discovered, the technology behind heart rate monitoring is difficult to get right in a device as small as a smartwatch — that’s why many serious athletes invest in a separate chest strap. It’s worth noting that the Apple Watch also includes a separate Workout app, which can provide regular heart rate readings, if required.

So, if you were wondering why your Apple Watch and associated Health app have been behaving differently, now you know. The Watch OS 1.0.1 update also improves the speed of third-party apps, and is able to more accurately track activities such as walking and cycling.

We’re expecting more Apple Watch news once WWDC kicks off from June 8 as well. There might be announcements about the availability of standalone Apple Watch apps (that don’t require an accompanying iPhone app) as well as HomeKit improvements that could put the smart timepiece at the center of your connected home. We should get our first look at iOS 9 too.