Apple Watch drops blood oxygen features to dodge the import ban


The blood oxygen feature is about to disappear from new Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 devices. While Apple itself has not released a statement or responded to our request for comment, both Bloomberg and 9to5Mac are reporting that the feature will be going away and that US Customs and Border Protection has approved the measure, which would allow Apple to consider selling both products after their sale was banned last year.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 were both banned in the US late last year as the result of a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo. The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the blood oxygen sensors in both devices infringed on patents from Masimo.

In the weeks since, Apple has scrambled to make changes to the watches in an attempt to avoid Masimo’s patents. Customs was tasked with determining whether the company’s proposed changes were enough, and according to a letter from Masimo’s attorneys published by 9to5Mac all parties appeared to agree on the new plan to remove the feature from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2.

Mark Gurman at Bloomberg additionally reports that modified watches have already been shipped to Apple retail stores, but that the stores have been instructed not to sell the modified watches until they receive word from corporate.

For now, the feature appears to still be active on watches already sold and it’s not clear if those watches will lose the feature in a future software update, or be permitted to keep using the blood oxygen feature. Naturally we’ve reached out to Apple for clarification on all of this, as it’s highly unusual to have the confirmation come not from Customs, or Apple, but from Masimo.

Until Apple makes a statement one way or the other, you might want to carefully check the notes before applying any update to your watch.



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