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Apple Watch Series 4's ECG feature is restricted by software and can be bypassed by users

Apple Watch Series 4 is the first major wearable to support ECG feature without adding a separate device.

  • Published: October 30, 2018 11:48 AM IST
Apple Watch Series 4 Images (20)

Apple Watch Series 4’s big new feature is the ability to take a non-invasive Electrocardiogram of the user’s heart through a series of sensors built into the back of the device. Those with Apple’s new smartwatch can take an ECG simply by tapping on the revised digital crown. However, due to regulatory requirements, the feature is limited to those who own the wearable in the US.

At the time of launch, Apple confirmed that ECG feature will roll out first to users in the United States since it requires regulatory approval from health department. Apple has managed to get clearance from US FDA for the use of ECG feature, but reports suggest it might take several years for the company to gain similar clearance in other parts of the world.

Interestingly, this limitation is not enforced by the hardware, and users buying the Apple Watch Series 4 in any country will get the same array of sensors, used to deliver ECG in the US. A look into the code within iOS reveals that ECG feature is not restricted by hardware but rather by software. The feature works based on the software region of the user’s device, i.e. Apple Watch and iPhone.

Since the limitation of ECG feature on Apple Watch Series 4 is software-based, it means users can bypass the hardware and change the region to United States. Those who wish to try ECG feature on the Apple Watch can simply change the region from their current country to US on their iPhone and Apple Watch.

Those planning to test the feature by changing the region should note that region and language are two different options on Apple devices. Setting the language alone to English won’t do the trick, and users must change the region to US as well. In order to access features limited to US, Apple users can head to Settings -> General -> Language & Region -> Region and select “United States”. If you are in India, the change will ask you whether you want to change the language to English (US) as well.

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By changing the region to United States, users will see changes in date and time format but it is worth the hassle if you want to try something innovative. As 9to5Mac reports, the region restriction is based on analysis of pre-release software and Apple might restrict the feature further with a future software release.

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  • Published Date: October 30, 2018 11:48 AM IST