The latest Apple Watch models have been de-oxygenated so that they can be released in the United States.
Apple has removed the blood oxygen monitoring feature from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 to avoid an import ban in the country.
This move comes after a long legal battle between Apple and medical tech company Masimo over patent rights to the feature.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Masimo in December, finding that Apple infringed on Masimo's patents related to pulse oximetry technology used in the blood oxygen monitoring feature.
In response, Apple had to temporarily halt the sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in the country. Today marks the U.S. release of the said Apple Watch models with the blood oxygen sensor disabled.
The ITC ruling could've resulted in a ban on Apple importing the latest Apple Watch models into the U.S., impacting a significant market for the wearable device.
Apple is still appealing the ITC's decision, and it is possible that the blood oxygen feature could be added back to the watches in the future.
“Pending the appeal, Apple is taking steps to comply with the ruling while ensuring customers have access to Apple Watch with limited disruption,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC. “There is no impact to Apple Watch units previously purchased that include the Blood Oxygen feature.”
While the feature’s removal is a setback for Apple Watch users in the U.S., the watches retain their other core functionalities, including fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring and fall detection.
The latest Apple Watch models will continue to be sold in other countries with the blood oxygen monitoring functionality intact.