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Apple says it will remove a health feature from new Apple Watches| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Apple said on Wednesday that it would begin selling its flagship smartwatches without the ability to detect people's blood oxygen levels.

The tech giant will remove the feature starting Thursday after lose a patent case about its blood oxygen measurement technology two months ago. The court ordered Apple to stop selling its Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 devices. Instead of stopping sales, the company requested permission to continue selling the devices after removing the infringing technology.

People who buy a new watch in the United States will still see Apple's Blood Oxygen app on the devices, the company said. But if they tap on the app, it will say that the feature is no longer available.

The change will not affect smartwatches currently in use. People with Apple Watches capable of detecting their blood oxygen levels can continue to use that feature, Apple said. The Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 will also continue to offer a variety of other features, including the ability to track runs, set timers, and detect falls and irregular heartbeats.

The International Trade Commission found in October that several Apple Watches had infringed patents held by Masimo, a medical technology company in Irvine, California, that helped pioneer some pulse oximeter technology. It issued a ban on the import of Apple watches, which are manufactured in Asia.

“We strongly disagree with the decision,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement.

Apple appealed the ruling, but on Wednesday lost its bid in court to delay a ban on sales of its watches until the appeals court rules on the dispute. As a contingency, it received approval from US Customs to continue selling the watch after making technical changes to remove the offending technology.

The compromise would be a temporary blow to Apple's efforts to increase the usefulness of its watches by adding health features. In 2018, the company gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its watches to begin measuring heart rate using electrocardiogram testing. It later added capabilities to detect falls, crashes and blood oxygen levels.

The new features pushed Apple further into the world of medical devices dominated by companies like Medtronic and Abbott. Masimo had obtained several patents on pulse oximeter technology, which measures the percentage of oxygen that red blood cells carry from the lungs to the body.

In court, Masimo said that Apple had discussed acquiring the medical device company, but instead chose to poach Masimo's top executives and employees. In 2020, Apple introduced its first watch with pulse oximetry.

The following year, Masimo took its complaints that Apple had stolen its technology to the International Trade Commission. The appeals court is expected to rule this year..

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