Apple Watch update: health features scrapped, 6 million units in production

18 February 2015

Proving that even Apple can’t solve every problem, a new report says that the company’s upcoming Apple Watch will feature less fitness and health tracking tools than originally planned.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Apple Watch was once intended to be the ultimate fitness accessory, with a host of health monitoring features not yet found on competing wearable devices. However, technological and regulatory issues saw Apple scrap its original ideas.

While the soon-to-be-released device will feature a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, pedometer and GPS to keep track of your fitness goals, the original design also included a much more complex heart rate sensor, as well as blood pressure and blood oxygen monitors and tools to measure a wearer’s stress levels.

However, Apple found its sensor technology was inconsistent, with results varying due to issues such as the dryness of the user’s skin, amount of arm hair, and even how tightly the watch strap was fastened.

What it will do

As well as technological problems, Apple found that features such as the blood pressure monitor may have required regulatory approval from the US FDA. While apps that measure and display data still need to be registered with the Administration, anything that could be considered as giving advice or goals is subject to FDA scrutiny.

Despite cutting back on some of the original health tools, the Watch still has plenty to offer fitness fanatics and anyone keeping an eye on their health. Last week it was announced that DexCom had developed an app and body sensor that could be used with the Apple Watch to track the glucose levels of diabetics.

The body sensor is worn around the abdomen and measures a user’s glucose levels every five minutes, with data being sent on to the wearer’s iPhone and displayed on an accompanying Apple Watch app.

Six million Watches on the way

The Wall Street Journal has also reported that Apple’s Asian suppliers are gearing up to produce between five and six million units of the device in time for the Apple Watch’s April launch.

According to the article, half of the ordered units will be the lower-priced Apple Watch Sport, a third the mid-level Apple Watch, and the remainder the more expensive Apple Watch Edition model.

Six million may seem like an optimistic number for the device's début, but Apple fans will undoubtedly be lining up for the company's first-ever wearable, regardless of critical opinion. But spare a thought for the many employees of Apple's Chinese manufacturers, who'll be spending their New Year working overtime to meet the company's targets.

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