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Family Setup turns off blood oxygen monitoring for family members

Apple Watch Series 6 Sensors
Apple Watch Series 6 Sensors (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • The Blood Oxygen app does not work for an unpaired Apple Watch Series 6 set up using Family Setup.
  • The app is also disabled for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • It is currently unclear why it does not work for those over the age limit, such as a grandparent who does not have an iPhone.

Reported by MacRumors, in addition to the Blood Oxygen app not be accessible to those under eighteen years of age, it will also not work for an Apple Watch Series 6 that has been set up using Family Setup. Family Setup is a new feature that allows you to give someone an Apple Watch who may not have an iPhone, but it appears that one major feature is missing when the watch is set up this way. According to Apple, the watch must be paired to an iPhone in order for the Blood Oxygen app to be used, and the app will be disabled otherwise, regardless of the user's age.

Apple states that the Blood Oxygen app is not available for use by people under 18 years old, and in fact the app will refuse to launch if it detects that the user's birth date in the Health app is less than 18 years ago. But the Blood Oxygen app will also be automatically disabled if you set up an unpaired Apple Watch Series 6 using Family Setup, regardless of the intended user's age.

Apple has not explained exactly why they turn off the Blood Oxygen app for all users, regardless of age, if the watch is set up using Family Setup. Perhaps an update it due for the Health app to allow for collecting that data separately to the main user's iPhone?

Besides being a Health-related feature, Apple has not explained why the Blood Oxygen app is not available on an Apple Watch configured using Family Setup, but the company has been eager to stress that the blood oxygen monitoring on Apple Watch is not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a doctor. Indeed, Apple states that it is only designed for "general fitness and wellness purposes," which leaves its usefulness quite open to interpretation.

The Blood Oxygen app allows an Apple Watch Series 6 owner to check the oxygen saturation in their blood. While the technology has not yet been approved by the FDA, Apple says that the feature is another to help someone monitor their overall health. The feature has been questioned by some users who report conflicting results when measuring their oxygen saturation.

Joe Wituschek
Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

6 Comments
  • One of Apple's dumbest decisions. You'd think a family member would be one of the first people who'd want to know if there was a health problem.
  • It’s still unclear if this was an intentional decision or the Family Sharing feature not catching up to support Blood Oxygen before Series 6 launched. But yes, it definitely should support it as the people you would be giving this too would most likely be the ones who would benefit the most from having it.
  • Wonder why they won't allow it for people under age 18?
  • I imagine there are some restrictions on the testing that Apple can do to ensure that it works correctly with those who are underage. It is similar to the ECG app, which currently only works with people 22 and older. I'm sure they'll expand it eventually, but I imagine there are some hurdles to jump over to get there.
  • I see this less as turning off O2 if using Family Sharing, as turning off O2 if the watch is not directly paired with an iPhone. The question I have is does Dad's AW6 O2 work, and just son and daughter's AW6 watches O2 don't. Those would be the ones set up via Family Share, and not directly with an iPhone. That could be due to some odd privacy concern/rule. My household isn't the target for Family Share so the intricacies of what is seen/manageable with Family Share on the 'shared' watches is going to be elusive to me. Does the Health app on the Host iPhone see all 'accounts'. How does it switch?
  • I know that the watches set up using Family Setup can opt to share data with the main iPhone. I haven’t seen this yet but I assume there is a way to switch users in the Health app.