PSA: Family Setup Prevents Relatives From Using Blood Oxygen Monitoring on Apple Watch Series 6 Models, Regardless of Age

In watchOS 7, Family Setup is a new feature that allows kids, elderly relatives, and others to take advantage of many of the capabilities of Apple Watch without the need for their own paired iPhone.

Apple Watch Blood Oxygen
Family Setup offers helpful tools for parents and kids, with Schooltime and Downtime features that offer controls over when and what kids can do with their Apple Watch. For older adults, it provides access to tools like fall detection, automatic emergency calling, and health features without the need for them to have an ‌‌iPhone‌‌.

However, if you were thinking of getting an Apple Watch Series 6 for a relative in your ‌Family Setup‌ circle so they could take advantage of the Blood Oxygen monitoring feature, think again.

Apple states that the Blood Oxygen app is not available for use by people under 18 years old, and in fact the app will refuse to launch if it detects that the user's birth date in the Health app is less than 18 years ago. But the Blood Oxygen app will also be automatically disabled if you set up an unpaired ‌Apple Watch Series 6‌ using ‌Family Setup‌, regardless of the intended user's age.

Besides being a Health-related feature, Apple has not explained why the Blood Oxygen app is not available on an Apple Watch configured using ‌Family Setup‌, but the company has been eager to stress that the blood oxygen monitoring on Apple Watch is not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a doctor. Indeed, Apple states that it is only designed for "general fitness and wellness purposes," which leaves its usefulness quite open to interpretation.

Oxygen saturation, or SpO2, represents the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body. A healthy person usually has blood oxygen levels in the mid- to high 90s. But if someone has a health condition like lung disease, sleep disorders or respiratory infections, these levels can dip between the 60s to the low 90s.

Until more research is conducted, however, Apple is likely to continue to limit the use of the Blood Oxygen app in situations where it thinks the measurements might be relied upon as early indications of medical conditions or disease, such as in a ‌Family Setup‌ context.

The good news is that Apple is joining forces with researchers to conduct three health studies that include using Apple Watch to explore how blood oxygen levels can be used in future health applications, including how they may help manage and control asthma and heart failure, and how they could serve as early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and COVID-19.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

mr.steevo Avatar
18 weeks ago
I thought the point of Family Sharing was so grandma didn’t have to buy an iPhone?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
travelsheep Avatar
18 weeks ago
I think SpO2 measurement will be great in a wife-reader app. When we guys are telling the wife the true reason for xy, the watch can blink if her SpO2 starts to tank (as a result of her holding her breath), and we can know early on that she's not buying our story and that we will in trouble and thus allows us to switch strategies early on when damage is still small.. could be a real life-saver app...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jlc1978 Avatar
18 weeks ago

Apple has not explained why the Blood Oxygen app is not available on an Apple Watch configured using Family Setup, but the company has been eager to stress that the blood oxygen monitoring on Apple Watch is not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a doctor. Indeed, Apple states that it is only designed for "general fitness and wellness purposes," which leaves its usefulness quite open to interpretation.

It's quite possible that it is not an accuracy or reliability issue, the device may very well be as good as those fingertip ones doctors use; but a regulatory concern. Apple would not want to hold up its release while it gets FDA approval for it to be classified as a medical device in the US; and thus stresses it is not for medical use. Once they do all the testing, get the required proof of effectiveness, they may seek approval ; or simply point out how effective it is and let doctors and users decide how to use and interpret it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
18 weeks ago


in fact the app will refuse to launch if it detects that the user's birth date in the Health app is less than 18 years ago

Birthday detection?! Amazing Apple didn’t mention this at the event!
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jwdsail Avatar
18 weeks ago
"The following features and apps are not available: irregular heart rhythm notifications, ECG, Cycle Tracking, Sleep, Blood Oxygen, Podcasts, Remote, News, Home, and Shortcuts."

Huh...

Good to know, just saved me some money, and Apple just lost a sale.

Was going to buy the new Watch for my mom, who refuses to give up her iPhone 5. She doesn't want anything bigger, and wants a home button. I had hoped that Family Setup would allow me to get her the Watch w/o the expense of a phone she doesn't want and won't like?

But, 99% of what she'd want the Watch for is disabled if using Family Setup.. SMH..



Oh well?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AirunJae Avatar
18 weeks ago
I'm sure it will get there eventually. I'd assume it's related to regulatory concerns.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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