Welp, the new Apple Watches popping up in stores in the Fall season will be slimmer and rock faster silicon, but don't hold your breath for any new ground-breaking health features. The update comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who is as good a source of Apple scoops as it gets.

So, Apple's been cooking up some fancy tech to spot high blood pressure and sleep apnea, aiming to drop it this year. But, man, it's been a bumpy ride. After making some progress last year, they've hit some major speed bumps, as per anonymous insider sources whispering in Gurman's ears.

The blood pressure gizmo? Not as reliable as they'd hoped during testing, says the report. Might have to push that back beyond this year, it seems. The folks at Apple are said to be especially worried about it playing nice with the new Series 10 design.

Even when it does hit the market, don't toss your home blood pressure cuff just yet. This thing won't give you an exact reading like the heart rate and blood oxygen apps do. Instead, it'll figure out your usual levels and flag when things are running high. You can then jot down what you were up to when it spiked.

Bionsensors at the back of the Apple Watch
Credit: Torsten Dettlaff / Pexels 

Now, the sleep apnea feature? That's facing even bigger headaches. It's tied to blood oxygen levels, but Apple Watches can't measure those right now because of some legal beef with Masimo Corp.

Apple's got a few options. Either sort out the legal mess by September, find a workaround, announce it but launch later, or just put it on ice for now. We'll see how it all shakes, but as of now, the incentive for an upgrade seems slim.

Good news for us mortals. We can splurge less on an older model and still live happily ever after.

Some sauce on the delays

Late in December, Apple dropped the bombshell that they're pulling the plug on selling the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 in the U.S. Online sales stopped on December 21, and stores followed suit on the 24th. This only hits Apple's official shops, but they've been told to cut off resellers too.

So, third-party stocks on Amazon might dry up after the December 25 review deadline. A few weeks later, Apple’s support page also specified that, as of January 18, the two previously mentioned smartwatches no longer have the capability to measure blood oxygen saturation levels.

The ban's all about watches that measure blood oxygen levels. It's thanks to the involvement of the regulatory big bois at U.S. International Trade Commission, after a long-winded patent fight with med-tech big shot Masimo. Back in January, a judge said Apple stepped on Masimo's toes with their pulse oximeter tech.

Apple Watch pregress rings
Credit: Anna Sweets / Pexels

At first, no sales ban was ordered, but an import ban was on the cards. Apple got a breather when some of Masimo's claims were shot down. But then Apple turned around and sued Masimo for copying the Apple Watch. The plot thickened when the ITC stuck to their guns, saying Apple definitely crossed a line with at least one of Masimo's patents.

Apple wasn't happy, telling 9to5Mac they're "pursuing legal and technical options" to keep the watches on shelves. The sales halt was just Apple playing it safe after the ITC's October verdict, which slapped them with an import ban set to kick in 60 days post-courtroom drama.

This whole mess started way back in 2013 when Apple supposedly invited med-tech companies, including Masimo, to chat about the first Apple Watch. Nothing came of it, but Apple allegedly poached Masimo's talent and cooked up a feature suspiciously like Masimo's pulse oximeters.

Masimo's boss, Joe Kiani, told Forbes he's gotta stop Apple from using his tech. Apple's still got some legal tricks up its sleeve to dodge a long-term sales ban. Older Apple watches with blood oxygen sensors are in the clear, though. As for Masimo, they've sued Apple twice since 2020 over stealing trade secrets. Talk about bad blood!

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