Remember this headline from late last year: “Apple to Stop Selling Two Apple Watch Models in the US Due to Import Ban” (18 December 2023)? The drama has continued, with a US federal appeals court agreeing to Apple’s request to pause the ban in late December while it determined if the company’s proposed changes would avoid two patents granted to medical device maker Massimo. The court has now reinstated the ban, denying Apple’s request that it remain paused until there’s a final ruling. That doesn’t mean Apple has lost its appeal, just that the court felt the ban was appropriate during the hearings.
Nonetheless, Apple will continue selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2, but without a functional Blood Oxygen app. The US Customs and Border Protection agency ruled that the software change of removing the blood oxygen feature was sufficient to sidestep the International Trade Commission import ban.
In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple wrote:
Pending the appeal, Apple is taking steps to comply with the ruling while ensuring customers have access to Apple Watch with limited disruption. These steps include introducing a version of Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States without the Blood Oxygen feature. There is no impact to Apple Watch units previously purchased that include the Blood Oxygen feature.
So, if you’re buying a new Apple Watch, you won’t be able to use the Blood Oxygen app until Apple settles with Massimo or comes up with some other workaround. Those who already own an Apple Watch with the blood oxygen sensor can continue to use the app.