Apple prepares to sidestep Apple Watch ban by disabling blood oxygen feature

Key Takeaways

According to court documents, Apple plans to remove the blood oxygen-sensing functionality from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to avoid a ban in the US. The removal of the feature will only affect prospective buyers in the US, not current owners or those outside the country. If Apple’s appeal is unsuccessful, the company may have to pay a licensing fee or develop a new technology to bring back blood oxygen sensing.

Apple may have found a way to avoid a US Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 ban, but it involves removing a key health feature. That feature, a blood oxygen sensor that can tell Apple Watch users how much oxygen is in their bloodstream, is at the heart of a legal battle surrounding two patents that Apple has been found to have infringed upon.

Apple Watch ban: Everything you need to know

What Apple’s ITC ban means for current Apple Watch owners, and how we got here.

That situation previously saw the US International Trade Commission (ITC) impose an import and sales ban on Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 devices, along with a few older models, with Apple forced to halt sales online and in its stores. According to 9to5Mac, Apple now intends to remove the blood oxygen-sensing functionality entirely in order to keep its wearables on sale. Thankfully, those who already own the smartwatches or live outside the US won’t be affected but American consumers who have yet to pick one up will find that their Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 aren’t quite the same as those already in use.

Loic Salan

Apple won a temporary stay on the Apple Watch ban while its patent infringement appeal worked its way through the courts. At the same time, the company has been working on a software fix that would work around the patent issue. However, it now appears that Apple has chosen the nuclear option of disabling the feature entirely. That’s according a court filing from Masimo, the company that alleges Apple infringed on its pulse oximetry patents.

At the time of writing, neither Apple nor US Customs have commented on the situation, but Masimo suggests that Apple claims its “redesigned Watch Products definitively do not contain pulse oximetry functionality.” Today happens to be the deadline for parties to file support or opposition to Apple’s request to pause the Apple Watch ban throughout the appeals process, and a ruling on that is expected imminently. For now, it looks increasingly likely that Apple hasn’t been able to find a way to offer blood oxygen monitoring capabilities to users without infringing upon Masimo’s patent. Where Apple goes from here remains to be seen, although it will no doubt hope to win its appeal.

If Apple’s appeal is not successful it will have two options if it wants to bring blood oxygen sensing back to the Apple Watch: pay a licensing fee, or devise a new technology on its own. The former will likely be the quickest option and that could be key given Apple’s reported plans to add sleep apnea detection and monitoring support to future Apple Watches. Doing so without a functional pulse oximeter seems unlikely.

Source: Read More

Author (if provided): Oliver Haslam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *