Apple Watch ECG functionality finally available to use in Australia

Apple Watch ECG
(Image credit: Apple)

Update (27/4/2021): Apple is now rolling out iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, and the latter adds the Apple Watch's ECG feature to some models of the wearable. We've updated our original story from last week to reflect that change.

During its Spring Loaded event in the wee hours of April 21, Apple revealed that an update to its WatchOS 7 was coming soon... and let spill that it would finally enable the Apple Watch's ECG functionality in more countries, including Australia. 

Alongside iOS 14.5 – which is already available to download – watchOS 7.4 has also been rolled out now, with the long-awaited ECG functionality on the newer models of the Apple Watch now available to use Down Under.

And the timing couldn't have been better. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – the government body that oversees all things health-related – approved the use of Apple's ECG (electrocardiogram or EKG) app in early March, as reported by EFTM.

This followed closely in the footsteps of the irregular heart rhythm notifications approval the TGA gave in February this year.

Heart health on a wrist near you

Apple released the beta version of watchOS 7.4 to developers during its Spring Loaded event and, a week later as promised, has rolled it out publicly. That means not only will all Apple Watch owners get the irregular heart rhythm notifications (important for anyone suffering from atrial fibrillation or Afib) on their wrist, but some will also be able to get more in-depth heart health data.

We say 'some' because not all Apple Watch models have the ECG sensor built in – it's only available on the Apple Watch 4 and newer versions (a.k.a. Series 5 and 6). 

To set up the ECG app on an Apple Watch, you'll first need to update the wearable's operating system to the latest watchOS 7.4 version. Then, simply open the Health app on your iPhone and follow the on-screen prompts. If you don't get any prompts, just go to the Browse tab and select Heart, which should show you the option for Electrocardiogram.

Until now, the only wearable to be given the green light from the TGA for use as a consumer-facing ECG machine was the Withings ScanWatch, which arrived in Australia in November 2020 with government approval. 

The Apple Watch wasn't the only device with ECG hardware under the hood and awaiting TGA approval – the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 and the Fitbit Sense are also fitted with the ECG sensor, but none of them have been given the green signal for use in Australia. With the Apple Watch paving the way, perhaps it's only a matter of time.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.