Apple releases watchOS 5.1.2 with ECG feature, restricted to U.S.-purchased devices only

Apple released watchOS 5.1.2 earlier today, providing the promised ECG app for the Apple Watch Series 4, along with new Infograph watch face complications for Apple’s stock apps, and a control center toggle for turning Walkie-Talkie on and off. Notably, however, it appears that Apple has taken additional measures beyond the usual regional software settings to restrict the new ECG app to only working on Apple Watch Series 4 units that were actually purchased in the U.S., according to a tweet by iOS developer and 9to5Mac contributor Guilherme Rambo. This means that unlike accessing other regional features such as Apple News, simply setting your Apple Watch and iPhone region to another country, such as Canada, will not be enough to make the ECG app show up.

While it’s not clear exactly how Apple is going about this, since most devices already include the necessary heart monitoring hardware, it’s possible that the display of the ECG app is simply being controlled by some time of device ID or serial number, in a similar manner to how FaceTime has been blocked on iPhones sold in some countries. Rambo also originally noted that the paired iPhone also has to have been purchased in the U.S., although he later deleted that tweet, staying that it only needs to be running the iOS 12.1.1 release, although there have been some reports that users are still having problems activating the ECG app with a U.S.-purchased Apple Watch and an iPhone that was purchased outside of the U.S. Either way, it seems clear that Apple is taking extra steps to avoid sullying its relationship with government regulators outside of the U.S. while it works to get the feature approved in other countries.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.