Back in September, Apple showed off the new Series 4 Apple Watch and praised a new ECG sensor that is the first ECG monitor available without a prescription. Since that announcement, Apple has been radio-silent regarding when the ECG app will be available, only to announce they received FDA clearance on the day of the event, but all that has changed.
According to an internal Apple Store training document obtained by MacRumors, Apple says that ECG functionality will be available on watchOS 5.1.2 when it goes out of beta.
With ECG or Electro-Cardiogram, Apple Watch Series 4 is capable of generating an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. According to Apple, “Electrodes built into the Digital Crown and the back crystal work together with the ECG app to read your heart’s electrical signals. Simply touch the Digital Crown to generate an ECG waveform in just 30 seconds. The ECG app can indicate whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation — a serious form of irregular heart rhythm — or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating in a normal pattern.”
ECG is described as, “the measure of electrical activity of the heart over a period of time, detecting tiny electrical changes on the skin created by the heart’s electrophysiologic pattern of depolarizing and repolarizing during each heartbeat. An ECG can help detect a variety of cardiac problems.”
Apple has instructed Apple Store employees to inform customers the ECG sensor is “not intended to be a diagnostic device or to replace traditional methods of diagnosis,” and “should not be used to monitor or track disease state or change medication without first talking to a doctor.”
Unfortunately, regulations only allow Apple to release the ECG app in the United States at the moment. Even though all Series 4 Apple Watch models sold worldwide come equipped with the ECG Sensor, it is regulated and only available in regions cleared for use.
For those with Apple Watch Series 1 through Apple Watch Series 3, you will be able to receive irregular heart rhythm notifications on your watch. You will need a Series 4 for the ECG sensor as the previous models are not equipped with the necessary hardware for it to work.
No word on when watchOS 5.1.2 will be released. As of this writing, the Beta of watchOS 5.1.2 is in its second phase of beta as of three weeks ago. I fully expect iOS 12.1.1 and watchOS 5.1.2 will be released in the coming days.