Update due this week could help Apple Watch series 4 save more lives in Europe
Alongside the many new features that Apple pushed out with today's release of iOS 12.2 was a clue. No, this clue didn't solve the JFK assassination, or tell us which came first between the chicken and the egg. What it did tell us what that those in Europe with the Apple Watch series 4 will soon receive an update that enables the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature on the device. Already available in the states, the ECG monitors the user's heart rhythm and it sends an alert if the sensor detects an abnormal rhythm.
Apple Watch, and already has saved the lives of wearers whose heart went into atrial fibrillation (Afib). This is a serious condition that can lead to strokes, blood clots and heart disease.The ECG is the breakout feature of the series 4
After today's update, those opening the Health app on their iPhone and navigating to Health > Health Data > Heart > Electrocardiogram (ECG) > About > Instructions for Use ound text that says "[t]he ECG app is available on Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.2, paired with iPhone 5s or later with iOS 12.2 or later (in non-U.S. regions)." For those in the U.S., this feature is already available as we noted, but just in case you didn't know, it is found on the "Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.1.2 or later, paired with iPhone 5s or later with iOS 12.1.1 or later."
So why is the ECG feature only being enabled now in Europe? It has to do with regulatory approval. In the states, the FDA had granted Apple permission to include the ECG monitor before the series 4 timepiece hit the market. It still took Apple a few months before watchOS 5.1.2 was pushed out, enabling the feature on Apple's newest smartwatch. Meanwhile, at one point it seemed that those in Britain might have to wait years for the country's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to sign off on it. Still, as we noted at the time, Britain is remains an EU member for now, so approval of the ECG for the European Economic Area (EEA) means that all EU countries will get the feature with watchOS 5.2, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The update is expected to drop later this week.
Other wearables could soon feature an ECG monitor
Meanwhile, it should be pointed out that while the Apple Watch's ECG monitor has only one lead compared to the 12 used in hospitals, in one test the device was 98% accurate in diagnosing AFib. Between the ECG and the watch's heart rate monitor, Apple has proved that its timepiece can save lives. And now it would appear that other wearable manufacturers are planning on adding an ECG function to their products. There is speculation that the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 will sport this feature. The current Mi Band 3 already has a heart rate monitor, and can be purchased on Amazon for less than $34; adding the electrocardiogram without raising the price too much could help Xiaomi's fitness tracker grab the top spot in wearables market share from the Apple Watch.
We also could see an ECG monitor become a native feature on Wear OS. Verily, a research organization owned by Google's parent Alphabet, received FDA approval earlier this year for the ECG feature on the Verily Study Watch. This is a watch that has been used in various studies (hence its name). With FDA approval, we wouldn't be surprised to see this feature included in a future version of Wear OS, or found on the rumored Google Pixel Watch, said to be released later this year.