Compliance with US Ban Leads to New Apple Watch Versions
In response to a legal decision, Apple has started offering modified versions of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States, which exclude the blood oxygen measurement feature. This change, effective from January 18, 2024, comes after Apple's unsuccessful attempt to overturn a ban on the sale of its latest models with the blood oxygen feature. The company has adapted by launching these new variants to continue offering its latest smartwatches to US consumers without violating the ban.
Identifying and Functioning of the Modified Watches
The newer versions of Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are identifiable by specific part numbers ending in LW/A, as indicated on Apple's website. Despite the absence of the blood oxygen measuring capability, these watches will still display the blood oxygen icon. However, tapping on the icon will lead users to a message stating the unavailability of this feature, with further information accessible via the Health app on connected iPhones. For existing Apple Watch users with blood oxygen features, Apple assures that there will be no impact on their devices’ functionality.
Apple's Stance and Future Availability
Apple, while complying with the current legal requirements, has expressed disagreement with the decision of the US International Trade Commission (USITC) and is pursuing an appeal. The company's spokesperson, Nikki Rothberg, emphasized Apple's belief that the decision should be reversed. In the meantime, Apple is focused on ensuring that its customers can access the Apple Watch with minimal disruption. The modified Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models, sans the blood oxygen feature, were made available for purchase online from 6 am PT on January 18 and in Apple Stores from the same date. This situation underscores the dynamic nature of tech product offerings in response to legal and regulatory challenges.