One of the big new features on the Apple Watch 4 is an ECG (electrocardiogram) that can check your heart rhythm and potentially detect atrial fibrillation, but if you live outside the US it’s a feature you might not have access to for a long time – if ever.
That’s because so far Apple’s ECG tech has only been approved in the US, so the company will have to seek approval in other countries before the ECG feature can be enabled in them.
That takes time – in fact, 9to5Mac (opens in new tab) has spoken to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK about the process, and learned that while Apple has already run a clinical study to test the tech, it might have to re-run it to get approval there, as the MHRA needs to be informed 60 days before the study is started, which it wasn’t.
That, plus other hoops Apple may have to jump through, could mean it’s months or even years before the Apple Watch 4’s ECG feature is enabled in the UK, assuming it’s approved at all.
But that’s just one region – Apple will also have to please regulators in every other part of the world in which it hopes to enable the feature.
EU to the rescue
There is some promising news though, as in an interview with Heise.de (opens in new tab) a German cardiologist claimed that certification in Germany could come “relatively quickly”, and if it’s approved there then it would also be approved across the rest of the EU.
Of course, that may or may not help the UK depending on whether approval comes before Brexit.
But wherever you are in the world (other than the US) we wouldn’t count on being able to measure your heart rhythm with an Apple Watch 4 any time soon.