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I can’t believe Apple Watch might actually be banned for a health feature that’s not even FDA-approved

Published Dec 19th, 2023 7:12AM EST
Apple Watch ban
Image: Apple Inc.

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Since we learned that the newest Apple Watch models might be temporarily banned from the US, I can’t stop thinking that this is due to a feature no one uses. Back in the day, when the blood oxygen monitor was introduced with the Apple Watch Series 6, we all thought it was a good idea to have it since, you know, COVID-19.

But even then, Apple was already telling users that the blood oxygen monitoring wasn’t intended for medical purposes. Three years have passed, and Apple still hasn’t got FDA – or any health agency in the world – approval for this technology.

That said, unlike the reliable ECG function, which works as an FDA-approved feature, the blood oxygen monitor doesn’t.

I’m not going deep into the US International Trade Commission ruling that Apple infringed two of Masimo’s blood oxygen patents, if Cupertino hired their employees to avoid paying patents, or even violating company secrets. Still, it’s just funny – or bittersweet – that this Apple Watch ban might actually become a thing for a feature that Apple can’t even properly promote.

Some use cases for the blood oxygen monitor include detecting potential sleep apnea – because the Watch can’t tell you that – and if you’re good to go working out with Gentler Streak’s Wellbeing tab. Besides that, well, it can tell your blood oxygen measurement is 95%, but it’s probably not.

Lastly, it feels like Apple is playing a game here. It’s complying with the rules while expecting someone – aka the Biden Administration – to say that it did nothing wrong or that we could let this one pass. After all, who would ban Apple products?

Although this might be the trickiest PR move of all, I’m sure if Apple releases an Apple Watch update that removes the blood oxygen feature, no one will care, and we’ll just keep moving with our lives before the company actually releases a health function we can 100% rely on.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.

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