Apple To Disable Pulse Oximetry Feature In Apple Watch Series 9 And Ultra 2


Apple is gearing up to implement a more permanent solution in response to the recent ITC ruling that led to a temporary halt in the sales of its Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 models in the U.S. The proposed fix, which was revealed in a legal filing by Apple’s opposing party Masimo, involves completely disabling the pulse oximetry feature on future models of the devices through a software update. This move is anticipated to have minimal impact on the user experience for future buyers.

Key Takeaway

Apple is considering a software update to disable the pulse oximetry feature in future models of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in response to the recent sales ban. The feature, criticized for its limited practical use, has been a point of contention between Apple and Masimo.

Temporary Return to Sales

Despite the sales ban being temporarily lifted, the pulse oximeter feature continues to be included in the current offerings of Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9. This will remain the case until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit makes a decision on Apple’s request for a stay that covers the entire appeal period. The proposed software fix is being considered as a precautionary measure in case the appeal does not rule in Apple’s favor.

Inaccuracies of the Feature

Even for users who possess an Apple Watch model with the pulse oximeter feature, the functionality may not be widely known or utilized. The feature, introduced in 2020, purportedly provides readings of blood oxygen levels. However, Apple’s implementation of the sensor has been criticized for its lack of accuracy and limited practical utility in providing meaningful health insights.

Role of Pulse Oximetry

The use of pulse oximetry, including consumer blood oxygen monitors, has been significant in providing critical information about blood oxygen levels. This data can be pivotal in identifying potential health issues and the need for immediate medical attention, particularly when oxygen levels are dangerously low. The prominence of blood oxygen levels as a health indicator was amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, signifying a deterioration in a patient’s condition.

Apple’s Position

Apple has consistently positioned the blood oxygen detection feature in the Apple Watch as a ‘wellness’ feature rather than a medical tool. It emphasizes the potential of tracking long-term measurements in combination with other health signals to raise awareness of any changes in well-being. Despite this, the pulse oximetry feature has been deemed as an unnecessary embellishment that does not warrant a nationwide sales ban or a licensing agreement with Masimo.

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