The latest smartwatches have fancy health-related features like ECG monitors but they are, unfortunately, not available everywhere the smartwatches are. These advanced medical features require approval from government regulators and each and every country they will be used in. That has, unfortunately, led to delays in rolling out the Apple Watch’s ECG and Arrhythmia notification everywhere and it is only now that South Korea is joining the still exclusive club.
ECG or Electrocardiogram measurements have traditionally required specialized medical equipment. They still do, at least for the more accurate and more comprehensive tests, but Apple has developed a technology that offers something more convenient, requiring only an Apple Watch Series 4 and government approval. The former launched back in 2018 and Apple only received the latter last August.
It may sound almost simplistic but measuring atrial fibrillation (AFib) also requires government approval. Available on the Apple Watch Series 3 and later, this feature measures heart rhythm and notifies the user if an irregular rhythm or arrhythmia has been detected. AFib is considered to be one of the silent killers because it often goes undetected until it’s too late.
Both ECG and AFib notification will be arriving in Korea with the next Apple watchOS and iOS updates, versions 7.1 and iOS 14.2, respectively. In contrast, the blood oxygen monitoring feature that debuted with the Apple Watch Series 6 doesn’t require regulatory approval and is immediately available to all owners.
Although already available in 50 countries, the features’ arrival in South Korea is particularly significant. This poses a direct challenge to Samsung’s own smartwatches which, until now, are the only one that offers ECG and AFib monitoring in the country.