Original Apple Watch Health Features Were Dropped Due to Consistency Issues

Before Apple unveiled the Apple Watch last September, reports indicated the device would come with 10 sensors to track health and fitness data, leading some healthcare professionals to find the unveiled Apple Watch's health features disappointing. In a new report, The Wall Street Journal offers a look at the original Apple Watch health features that were dropped due to consistency problems.

applewatch

Apple began developing the watch about four years ago, with a focus on health and fitness. It’s not unusual for Apple to experiment with many technologies or shift focus during product development, but the watch was especially challenging, people familiar with the matter said. Internally, the project became known as a “black hole” sucking in resources, one of these people said.

The Apple Watch originally featured sensors that measured the conductivity of skin, allowing the device to detect stress levels and heart-rate monitoring similar to an electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG. Apple also experimented with ways to detect blood pressure or how much oxygen is in a user's blood. However, a mix of consistency problems and potential oversight caused Apple to switch the focus of the device from health-related to a more general do-everything product.

The skin conductivity features didn't perform well with people who had hairy arms or dry skin, while results varied depending on how tight an Apple Watch was worn on users' wrists. Additionally, if Apple decided to use the health data to provide "health or behavioral advice", the Cupertino company would have to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators.

While these features were dropped for the first version of the Apple Watch, sources tell the WSJ that they could appear in future versions of the device, echoing a Reuters report from September.

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company's objective with Apple Watch is to "change the way people live their lives" and that people would be surprised by the breadth of what the device can do, which includes activity monitoring, reminding users to stand up after a certain time period, and non-verbal communication with friends. Apple is currently asking developers to have their Apple Watch apps ready by mid-February, with some developers traveling to Apple's Cupertino headquarters for help.

Cook has confirmed the Apple Watch will launch in April. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will make five to six million units for the first quarter, with half of those units being the entry Apple Watch Sport and one-third being the mid-tier stainless-steel Apple Watch.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6
Tag: wsj.com
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

Patriot24 Avatar
84 months ago
Apple: "We investigated a whole bunch of wild stuff that isn't ready for mass production and usage yet. Maybe the tech will be more mature in the future and we can include it then."

Media: "The watch could've been so much more than the nothing that we currently know about it. We even have an unnamed, un-verified source that made a quip about the scope of the project that we can take out of context to make it sound like there's trouble behind the scenes. Ahh, just imagine the page views."

MacRumors Users: "Typical Apple - neutering all of the good features so we have to buy the next generation. Also, just a reminder that some software they released like 6 years ago was buggy. I always have to bring that up in unrelated threads as it is really the only contribution I make to the discussion."

Society in two months: "That is amazing! I need one! Going to get it right now!"

Media in two months: "Tim Cook's vision is incredible and the watch is amazing. We will mindlessly worship everything about the watch for the next 6 months (or as long as it gets us page views, then we'll go back to attacking)."

MacRumors Users in two months: "Well, there are still software bugs in OS X."
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macman1993 Avatar
84 months ago
I've never been huge on the Apple Watch, it has always seemed like Apple is just trying to enter a market because others are doing so. During their demos they touted things like sending emoticons and basic things like a strap to keep the band flush to the wrist.

Apple doesn't seem to understand this product themselves, the fact that it is described internally as a black hole is not a good sign.

I think this will be apples first major product to be a flop in a long time.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
84 months ago
more like dropped for Apple Watch 2
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
84 months ago
Pretty clear to see Apple has big ambitions here. But I'm glad they dropped stuff that wasn't up to snuff rather than just adding sensors for the sake of it whether they were very accurate or not.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Che Castro Avatar
84 months ago
I've never been huge on the Apple Watch, it has always seemed like Apple is just trying to enter a market because others are doing so. During their demos they touted things like sending emoticons and basic things like a strap to keep the band flush to the wrist.

Apple doesn't seem to understand this product themselves, the fact that it is described internally as a black hole is not a good sign.

I think this will be apples first major product to be a flop in a long time.
People will be quoting and laughing at you for years to come
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
penajmz Avatar
84 months ago
What a bummer. Health tracking was my #1 reason for getting an Apple Watch.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...