Apple watches no longer have blood oxygen sensors. What does this mean?

Only a month ago, Apple delayed US sales of its new Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models due to a legal battle over the watch’s blood oxygen sensor.

A federal judge is still considering the matter, but it appears that Apple is planning to go forward before making a decision by removing the feature entirely.

According to Bloomberg, Apple has begun distributing watches without the aforementioned capabilities. This appears to be a software update rather than a hardware one, which means the sensor is still present but inactive. US Customs and Border Protection has determined that the new watch “falls outside the scope” of the import prohibition, indicating that it is suitable for the market.

Apple watches no longer have blood oxygen sensors. What does this mean?

Bloomberg also stated that the new watches have been delivered to Apple stores, but they have been advised not to open or sell them until further notice. It appears that the firm is simply preparing to have the updated version of the watch available in case an appeal fails. A court ruling on the appeal is due as early as this week, and if upheld, the ban may last up to a year.

Apple is allegedly working on a software update that will improve the sensor’s algorithm sufficiently to escape the ban while still retaining its functionality; nevertheless, blocking the feature completely was probably the simplest and quickest solution for now.

Apple watches no longer have blood oxygen sensors. What does this mean?

One of the most pressing questions is what this means for current owners of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9, for whom the feature is functional. Apple hasn’t confirmed anything at this moment, but given that the company was attempting a workaround, it appears that the intention is to retain the functionality around for the long term.

Because the prohibition only applied to the import of timepieces, it is likely that current watches are fine and will not be affected. However, it is possible that Apple will remove the feature from all watches in order to prevent legal problems — therefore read the notes on any subsequent Apple update if you use this feature.

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