There is a chance that Apple Watch pulse oximetry can be activated through software in the year 2028


As a recap, Apple was found to be infringing on patented pulse oximetry technology owned by Masimo, and was banned from importing the ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ and Ultra 2 into the U.S.
The original January 12 order from CBP that allowed Apple to bring Apple Watch models with a disabled sensor in the United States was published recently (via ip fray), and it gives some insight into how Apple disabled pulse oximetry.
While some of the order is redacted, Apple implemented a fix that turns off pulse oximetry when an Apple Watch is paired to an iPhone.
Blood oxygen sensing becomes inaccessible to the user, and opening the blood oxygen app gives a warning that the feature is not available.
Apple said that it hardcoded each Apple Watch at the factory with new software.
As part of the process to get approval to sell ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ and Ultra 2 models without pulse oximetry enabled, Apple had to provide the code disabling the feature and test devices to Masimo.
When no longer subject to an import ban, Apple will be able to reintroduce blood oxygen sensing for ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ and ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌ users who are not able to access the feature.
Apple filed an appeal with the United States International Trade Commission to attempt to get the ruling overturned, so if the appeal is successful, Apple could be able to re-add blood oxygen sensing sooner.
Kiani has maligned the Apple Watch blood oxygen sensor several times, saying that customers are “better off without” the feature because it is not a “reliable, medical pulse oximeter.”
The ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ and Ultra 2 only have disabled blood oxygen sensing capabilities in the United States, as the ban is not applicable in other countries.

In the United States, Apple has been selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 without the blood oxygen monitoring feature. S. since mid-January, and although we had speculated that Apple might be able to use a future software update to bring back pulse oximetry in models that are missing it, fresh data from the U.S. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) affirms that the possibility of reactivation exists. As a reminder, Apple was prohibited from importing the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 into the United States after it was discovered that the company was violating Masimo’s patent on pulse oximetry technology. S.

Some information about how Apple disabled pulse oximetry can be found in the recently published (via ip fray) order from CBP dated January 12, which permitted Apple to introduce Apple Watch models with a disabled sensor in the United States. Apple fixed the issue by disabling pulse oximetry when an Apple Watch is paired with an iPhone, though part of the order has been redacted. The user loses access to blood oxygen sensing, and the blood oxygen app notifies them that this feature is not available when they open it. Apple claimed that new software was hardcoded into every Apple Watch at the factory.

Apple had to give Masimo the code to disable pulse oximetry and test devices in order to receive approval to sell Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models without the feature enabled. Masimo, who didn’t want Apple to have such a simple solution, managed to get pulse oximetry to function by pairing the “redesigned” Apple Watches with a jailbroken iPhone running an earlier version of iOS.

Masimo attempted to contend that since a jailbroken phone could still activate pulse oximetry, Apple had not truly disabled the feature and that these phones shouldn’t be permitted for import into the United States. S. Additionally, Masimo attempted to argue that jailbreaking is “permissible, common, and readily known,” but her claims were rejected. The U.S. Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch. S. Customs and Border Patrol ultimately determined that turning off the pulse oximetry in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 was sufficient to prevent infringement on Masimo patents, thereby permitting the sale of those models at Apple retail stores within the U.S. S.

Apple could potentially reactivate the blood oxygen sensor in models where it has been disabled through software updates, as Masimo was able to do with software on a jailbroken iPhone. Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 owners who are unable to use the feature will be able to reintroduce blood oxygen sensing once they are not subject to an import ban.

The patents on which Apple was found to have violated the law expire in August 2028, as reported by ip fray. This implies that Apple will have the opportunity to reactivate pulse oximetry in the impacted models at that point. Apple may be able to reintroduce blood oxygen sensing sooner if its appeal to the US International Trade Commission is successful in getting the decision reversed.

Although it doesn’t seem like that will happen right now, Apple may also decide to settle with Masimo and work out a licensing agreement. A settlement would require an apology and a “honest dialogue,” according to Masimo CEO Joe Kiani, who stated in January that he had not spoken with Apple.

Kiani has continuously criticized the Apple Watch blood oxygen sensor, stating that users would be “better off without” it since it is not a “reliable, medical pulse oximeter.”. “.

Because the ban does not apply outside of the US, the blood oxygen sensing capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are only disabled within the US. The Apple Watches continue to work perfectly outside of the U.S. s.

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