Apple prepares to remove blood oxygen feature to avoid import ban

The move may occur if courts reject Apple's request for continued stay
Wareable apple planning to remove blood oxygen
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Apple is preparing to remove the blood oxygen feature from new Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices to avoid the current US import ban - but only if it loses an appeal for a longer stay.

For those catching up, Apple remains embroiled in a patent dispute with health startup Masimo relating to blood oxygen technology, with the Cupertino company's latest smartwatches banned for sale in the US by the International Trade Commission back in December. 

Apple has since been able to win an interim stay on the ban - with sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 resuming on 2 January - while it works on a redesign of the sensor. 

In a 15 January court filing, though, it was revealed that the “US Customs and Border Protection decided that Apple’s redesign falls outside the scope of the remedial orders in the ITC Investigation underlying Apple’s appeal.”

Apple could avoid the ban altogether, per US customs, by removing the pulse oximetry from its watches, but this is viewed as a "backup scenario" according to Bloomberg's Apple insider Mark Gurman.

Instead, it appears Apple is holding out for the US Federal Appeals Court to approve an extended stay on the import ban. It's something the court could rule on as early as 16 January - and could delay the ban for an additional year or more.

In such a scenario, Apple would then conceivably have the time to redesign its hardware and software for a future release - if deemed necessary.

If the appeal is rejected, Apple will reportedly look to remove blood oxygen from unsold Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices while it explores avenues to see it return, though it's not anticipated, Gurman says, that the functionality will be removed from existing models.

With the ruling expected soon, we'll update this story with more information when we have it.

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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