Samsung's Galaxy Watch 5 will soon add temperature-based period tracking
With the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series, the company finally added temperature sensors to its smartwatches. The only thing was that the sensors didn't really do anything when the smartwatches launched last year. But that's about to change. Samsung is partnering with fertility app Natural Cycles to bring temperature-based period tracking to the wrist.
Samsung's press release says the feature will give users "more detailed insight" into their cycles but is a little vague on what those insights are. Advanced period tracking as well as digital fertility features come in several forms. For instance, Apple uses the temperature sensors on its Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra to give menstruating users retrospective ovulation estimates. However, it doesn't use that temperature data to provide future ovulation predictions. Conversely, the Oura Ring introduced temperature-based period predictions with the Gen 3 version of its smart ring. Other wearable companies, like Garmin, offer period and pregnancy tracking.
When asked by The Verge to clarify the new features in this integration, Samsung said that it's primarily to help people view their cycles in an easy, convenient, and holistic way -- which includes retrospective ovulation estimates and period predictions.=
Meanwhile, Natural Cycles is only one of two companies to receive FDA clearance as a form of digital birth control. This isn't the first time Natural Cycles has integrated its digital birth control tech with a wearable, either. In 2021, the company gained FDA clearance to gather temperature data from wearable devices to make pregnancy predictions. Then, last year, it partnered with Oura Health to use temperature data collected by its smart ring, replacing the need for manual thermometer readings. This partnership with Samsung, however, is the first time Natural Cycles has adapted its algorithm for smartwatch temperature data.
Samsung also provided some practical details about the feature: Galaxy Watch 5 or Watch 5 Pro owners won't have to download a separate app to access it. Instead, it'll be part of the Samsung Health app. This tracks with previous Samsung integrations with apps like Calm and Sleep Cycle to help flesh out its mindfulness and sleep offerings.
The company also noted the feature has received approval from South Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, complies with Europe's CE marking requirements, and is registered with the FDA. FDA registration isn't the same thing as clearance or approval. It only means that the product has been registered in the FDA's database. But since Natural Cycles' algorithm has received FDA clearance, Samsung only needs to register the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro as supported devices. The feature will be available in 32 countries, including the US, in Q2 2023.
It might seem like Samsung's lagging behind Apple and Oura in this area, but it's a marked improvement when you consider it took the company until 2020 to add basic period tracking. Fitbit was the first to add period tracking in 2018, followed by Apple and Garmin in 2019. Conversely, temperature-based period tracking on wearables isn't a widespread feature just yet. The fact that Samsung managed to roll something out less than six months after Apple -- that's progress.