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 (Neutral)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

Patriot24 Avatar
81 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
81 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
81 months ago
more like dropped for Apple Watch 2
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
81 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
81 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
81 months ago
What a bummer. Health tracking was my #1 reason for getting an Apple Watch.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
facebook instargram updated att prompt 1

Facebook and Instagram Ask Users to Enable App Tracking in Order to Keep Services 'Free of Charge'

Sunday May 2, 2021 1:22 pm PDT by
As a way to convince users to enable tracking across other apps and websites, Facebook is deploying the tactic of telling users that they must enable tracking as part of the App Tracking Transparency framework in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." App Tracking Transparency or ATT is the newest privacy feature to come to iPhone and iPad devices as part ...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow

Kuo: Apple to Launch 8-Inch Foldable iPhone in 2023

Sunday May 2, 2021 8:43 pm PDT by
Apple is working to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1 With Fixes for App Tracking Transparency Bug, WebKit Security Issues

Monday May 3, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1, minor security updates that come just a week after the release of the iOS 14.5 update. There is also a companion watchOS 7.4.1 update for Apple Watch and an iOS 12.5.3 update for older iPhone and iPad devices that don't support Apple's latest operating system versions. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a bug with App Tracking...
airtags teardown tile mat galaxy smarttag

iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag

Sunday May 2, 2021 4:54 am PDT by
iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout. For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Brydge's 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Keyboard With Trackpad

Tuesday May 4, 2021 11:48 am PDT by
Brydge has been making keyboards for Apple's iPads for years now, and the newest model, the Brydge 12.9 MAX+, is compatible with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPad Pro models, so it works even with the new mini-LED iPad Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out the new Brydge 12.9 MAX+ to see if it's a viable...