The software update that brings the highly touted electrocardiogram app to the Apple Watch Series 4 is finally available to the public. It follows the release of iOS 12.1.1 yesterday that had everyone anticipating watchOS 5.1.2, which adds the ECG app to Series 4 models of the watch as well as irregular heartbeat notifications to older watch models.
Excitement had been building for the release of the latest version of the watch’s OS once it became clear that Apple had begun circulating a training document giving key instructions on how Apple Store employees should interact with customers regarding the addition, so it was thought to be only a matter of time before watchOS 5.1.2 was released. Now, following a round of embargoed news coverage published earlier on Thursday, the update has been made available to the public.
The ability to take an ECG reading from your wrist was arguably the highlight of Apple’s unveiling of the latest version of the watch a few months ago. It works with a companion iOS ECG app that uses electrodes built into the watch’s digital crown as well as a new electrical heart sensor built into the watch’s back crystal. Apple got FDA clearance for the app, which reads data captured by the watch to give you a heart classification that’s stored in the Apple Health app and can detect and classify irregular heart rhythms.
Apple Watches running watchOS 5.1.2 can also detect irregular heart rhythms in the background and send out a notification if an irregular rhythm is detected. What’s more, the user can even be alerted if the heart rate rises or falls below a specified threshold.
Macrumors noted last week that Apple was already starting to train employees how to communicate relative to the latest version of the watch, with instructions that include making it clear the ECG app is regulated and only available in regions where it’s been cleared for use. The Apple Watch 4 is being sold worldwide, of course, and it includes a heart sensor, but the app will be limited to the US for now.
Per Macrumors, Apple has told store employees to let customers know that the ECG app is “not intended to be a diagnostic device or to replace traditional methods of diagnosis.” Also, that it “should not be used to monitor or track disease state or change medication without first talking to a doctor,” according to Apple’s document as cited by Macrumors.
Apple’s documentation notes that you have to have iOS 12.1.1 or later, as well as watchOS 5.1.2 for the ECG features to function. Both of those software updates are of course now available to the public, and can be downloaded and installed over the air (OTA) by opening the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General > Software Update.
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