Apple Watch ban could see blood oxygen tech adjusted in potential workaround

Apple Watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Future)

Following the news that Apple will suspend sales of its best Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, from December 21, a new report says Apple is scrambling to develop a potential software fix or another workaround to get its wearable back onto shelves. 

It follows the news Monday that Apple will suspend online sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 from December 21 and in-store sales from Christmas Eve, December 24. It follows a patent dispute between Apple and Masimo Corp over the blood oxygen monitoring feature in the Apple Watch. 

Apple is currently facing an import ban on the device by the International Trade Commission, which will take effect from December 25 unless President Biden vetoes it, hence the pre-emptive suspension of sales.

Drastic measures 

Now, Bloomberg reports that “Engineers at the company are racing to make changes to algorithms on the device that measure a user’s blood oxygen level” in order to get around the patent infringement. The report claims Apple is “adjusting how the technology determines oxygen saturation and presents the data to customers” with a view to getting around the ban. 

A software fix aside, the report notes other avenues Apple could pursue, including a settlement with Masimo, although Mark Gurman writes that “the two companies don’t appear to have engaged on that front.” 

Apple is also reportedly “working on a range of legal and technical options” and already has store promotional material for its brick-and-mortar stores that promote the Apple Watch SE without depicting its other two offending models. 

According to the report, “Work within Apple suggests that the company believes software changes — rather than a more complicated hardware overhaul — will be enough to bring the device back to store shelves.” In the meantime, both models are still available to buy for the next couple of days and will remain available at third-party outlets like Best Buy. However, because the ITC ruling is an import ban, this will also eventually cause stock at these vendors to dry up. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9