AliveCor Files Antitrust Suit Against Apple for Preventing Third-Party Irregular Heart Rhythm Analysis on Apple Watch

AliveCor, a company that that has developed an ECG 'KardiaBand' for the Apple Watch, today filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple that accuses the Cupertino company of "monopolistic conduct."

Kardia Band apple watch
According to AliveCor, Apple's decision to exclude third-party heart rate analysis providers from the Apple Watch has harmed AliveCor and impacted patients and consumers. To go along with the KardiaBand, AliveCor created the SmartRhythm app, which uses data from the Apple Watch's heart rate algorithm to determine when a heart rate is irregular and suggest people take an ECG with the KardiaBand.

The KardiaBand received FDA approval in 2017, and in 2018, Apple debuted the Apple Watch Series 4 with built-in ECG capabilities and its own irregular heart rhythm notifications followed. AliveCor claims that Apple saw the success of the KardiaBand and changed the functionality of watchOS to sabotage KardiaBand and "corner the market for heart rate analysis on Apple Watch."

AliveCor claims that the SmartRhythm app was initially allowed in the App Store, but Apple later claimed that it violated ‌App Store‌ guidelines. AliveCor says that it was forced to adapt SmartRhythm multiple times to adjust to Apple's rules, and then Apple "made changes to watchOS's heart rate algorithm" to ensure that SmartRhythm and other competing apps would not work. Apple allegedly changed the heart rate algorithm in watchOS 5 to prevent third-party apps from being able to identify irregular heart rate situations.

The algorithm was virtually the same on the first four versions of watchOS, but, with the introduction of the Series 4 Apple Watch and Apple's introduction of its competing heartrate analysis app, Apple released watchOS5, which, among other things, "updated" the Watch's heartrate algorithm. That update did not improve the user experience for Apple Watch purchasers; instead, its purpose and effect was simply to prevent third parties from identifying irregular heartrate situations and, thus, from offering competing heartrate analysis apps.

Prior to Apple's alleged sabotage, AliveCor says that its SmartRhythm app was "simply better at identifying worrisome heart-related health events," and could have successfully competed with the ECG function built into the Apple watch. AliveCor was forced to pull SmartRhythm from the ‌App Store‌ because the irregular rhythm functionality no longer worked.

All of this has been devastating to competition, as Apple today commands 100% share of heartrate analysis apps on watchOS devices and, if viewed in the alternative as part of either the U.S. ECG-capable smartwatch or U.S. ECG-capable wearable devices market, over 70% market share. With a single update, Apple thus eliminated competition that consumers clearly wanted and needed, depriving them of choice for heartrate analysis that is better than what Apple can provide.

AliveCor has previously filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple, alleging that Apple copied AliveCor's cardiological detection and analysis technology. Those lawsuits have not yet been resolved, and with today's antitrust suit, AliveCor is seeking damages and an injunction that would require Apple to "cease its abusive conduct."

This is just one of several antitrust battles that Apple is facing. A high-profile lawsuit brought by Epic Games wrapped up earlier this week, and there are also antitrust investigations into Apple's ‌App Store‌ fees in the UK and in the United States, among other countries.

Top Rated Comments

thisisnotmyname Avatar
14 months ago

Send your complaint to the FDA.
They did get FDA approval per the article but their complaint is that they are dependent upon Apple devices to trigger their own device's operation and Apple has changes its API so they can no longer trigger that process. If I were making a medical device that was dependent on Siemens imaging equipment to trigger my operation I wouldn't be at all surprised if Siemens unilaterally changed their interfaces either. That would have been a risk I took on by making my device dependent upon another manufacturer without contractual agreements in place to support said interface. They're taking a shot in the courts but it won't work out in their favor.

edit: typo
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calikid78 Avatar
14 months ago
It's nuts. You build your own platform, O/S and now you get sued because you won't give everyone access to your proprietary, hard work. Sounds like all these idiots should go invent their own tech and O/S and stop complaining about Apple's.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nattK Avatar
14 months ago
Is suing Apple a trendy thing right now? It feels like everyone and their grandmother are out suing Apple nowadays.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mebsat Avatar
14 months ago
So Apple is using its monopoly power to dominate the Apple Watch ECG market?
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiseAJ Avatar
14 months ago
Yeah Apple clearly copied them, because it's not like they were working for years on the ecg function for the Apple Watch and got it designed and FDA approved in under a year. :rolleyes:.

They need to start handing out shirts that say "I sued Apple and all I got was this T-Shirt"

This is getting ridiculous.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
swingerofbirch Avatar
14 months ago
What's sad is that AliveCor actually is better, too.

They've been doing this for a long time. Their a-fib detection is superior because it actually analyzes rates that are typical for a-fib, whereas Apple caps their detection to low pulse rates. AliveCor's algorithms have gotten really good and are approved for more diagnoses by the FDA than Apple's.

Tim Cook talks about reading letters of people's lives he's saved, and then they cut out a competitor that actually has a better and less expensive product. How many lives has that impacted?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

watchOS 8 on Apple Watch feature

Apple Seeds watchOS 8.4 Release Candidate to Developers

Thursday January 20, 2022 10:10 am PST by
Apple today seeded the release candidate version of an upcoming watchOS 8.4 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new software coming one week after the launch of the first betas and over a month after the release of watchOS 8.3. To install watchOS 8.4, developers will need to download the configuration profile from the Apple Developer Center. Once installed, ‌‌‌‌watchOS...
watchOS 8 on Apple Watch feature

Apple Seeds Second Beta of watchOS 8.5 to Developers

Tuesday February 8, 2022 10:02 am PST by
Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming watchOS 8.5 update to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming two weeks after the release of the first watchOS 8.5 beta. To install ‌‌‌watchOS 8.5, developers will need to download the configuration profile from the Apple Developer Center. Once installed, ‌‌‌watchOS 8.5‌‌‌ can be downloaded through the...
cydia vs apple feature

Judge Dismisses Cydia Creator's Lawsuit Against Apple For Now

Wednesday January 5, 2022 9:33 pm PST by
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers today granted Apple's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company by Jay Freeman, creator of an alternative App Store known as Cydia for "jailbroken" iPhones and iPads. The case might not be over yet, however, as Freeman was given the option to file an amended complaint by January 19. Freeman sued Apple in late 2020, alleging that the...
apple watch series 7

Apple Offering $25 Extra Credit During Apple Watch Trade-In in Celebration of Heart Month

Tuesday February 1, 2022 1:16 am PST by
In celebration of Heart Month, Apple is offering all customers who trade in an Apple Watch $25 extra in credit to encourage owners of older Apple Watch models to upgrade to one of the newer models. Heart Month is celebrated during February, and Apple this week shared some of the ways it's celebrating across its services. The $25 Apple Watch trade-in credit is valid until February 28 in...
apple watch abc action news

Apple Watch Saves Woman's Life With Feature She'd Never Heard Of

Wednesday March 23, 2022 1:59 am PDT by
An Apple Watch has been credited with saving a woman's life after it contacted emergency services when she fell, leading to a lung cancer diagnosis, ABC Action News reports. 71-year-old grandmother Raylene Hackenwerth, from Saint Petersburg, Florida, fell in early March, triggering her Apple Watch's Fall Detection feature. The Apple Watch's Fall Detection feature can tell when a wearer has...
Kardia Band apple watch

Apple to Face Claims it Bars Third-Party Heart-Rate App Functionality on Apple Watch

Tuesday March 22, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple must face claims it illegally monopolized the U.S. market for heart-rate monitoring apps on Apple Watch, a California-based federal judge said on Monday. AliveCor, a company that that markets an ECG "KardiaBand" for the Apple Watch, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in May 2021 accusing the Cupertino company of changing the heart-rate algorithm for the Apple Watch to gain an...
image 40

iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 Allow You to Restore an Apple Watch Using an iPhone

Monday March 14, 2022 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple today published a new support document indicating that iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 allow an Apple Watch to be restored with a nearby iPhone. The support document states that if an Apple Watch running watchOS 8.5 or later displays an animation showing an Apple Watch and iPhone being brought close together, customers can follow the steps below to initiate the restore process:1. Make sure...
apple watch series 3 trio

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 3 May Finally Be Discontinued Upon Its Fifth Anniversary in Q3 2022

Monday March 21, 2022 6:10 am PDT by
Apple may finally discontinue the Apple Watch Series 3 when it reaches five years of age in the third quarter of 2022, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a tweet, Kuo said that the Apple Watch Series 3 may reach the end of its life in the third quarter of 2022 because its computing power will not be able to meet the requirements of a new version of watchOS. The Apple Watch...

Popular Stories

2022 back to school apple

Apple Launches 2022 Back to School Offer: Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Friday June 24, 2022 5:08 am PDT by
Apple today launched its annual "Back to School" promotion for college/university students in the United States and Canada. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad, rather than free AirPods like last year. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans during the promotion. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase ...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple CEO Tim Cook Hints at AR/VR Headset: 'Stay Tuned and You'll See What We Have to Offer'

Wednesday June 22, 2022 6:34 pm PDT by
CEO Tim Cook this week did an interview with China Daily, where he once again commented on on the future of augmented reality and hinted at Apple's work on an AR/VR headset. Render via designer Ian Zelbo Cook said that Apple is excited about the opportunities available with augmented reality, which is not too far off from prior comments that he's made, but he went on to say that people should ...
airpods pro 2 1

AirPods Pro 2 Said to Feature Upgraded H1 Chip, Find My, Heart Rate Detection, USB-C and More

Friday June 24, 2022 9:48 am PDT by
The next-generation AirPods Pro could come with a long list of new features that include heart rate detection, the ability to function as a hearing aid, and a USB-C port according to a report from 52Audio. The site claims that it has received new information on the AirPods Pro 2, and it has used that information to provide some renders on what the earbuds might look like. Design wise, there...
customize wallpaper setting ios 16

iOS 16 Beta 2 Tidbits: New Wallpaper Colors, Backup Over LTE, SMS Filtering and More

Wednesday June 22, 2022 2:16 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to developers for testing purposes, and the new betas introduce new features and refine some of the changes that Apple made with the first iOS 16 release. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Lock Screen Photo Wallpaper Customization When customizing a photo on the Lock Screen, there are two new DuoTone and...
home app ios 16

Apple Confirms iPad Will No Longer Be Supported as a Home Hub in iOS 16

Wednesday June 22, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
The iPad will no longer be able to be used as a home hub following the launch of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and the HomePod 16 software this fall, Apple confirmed today. As discovered in iOS 16 code by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, Apple says that the iPad will no longer be supported as a home hub. This information will be displayed in the Home app after updating to iOS 16.A home ...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple Rumored to Announce 'Game-Changer' AR/VR Headset in January 2023

Friday June 24, 2022 2:52 am PDT by
Apple is "likely" to announce its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reiterated. Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo In a detailed post on Medium, Kuo explained that Apple's headset will be a "game-changer" for the augmented-reality and virtual-reality market. Describing some of the headset's...