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.