The Apple Watch Series 4 sports a breakthrough new feature for a consumer wearable: the ability to take an electrocardiogram reading, or an ECG.
Apple Watch ECG readings are made possible by a new suite of sensors on the rear of the device. And, as you might expect, the feature requires approval by a country’s health regulatory body.
Because of that, the Apple Watch ECG feature will see a limited release in the U.S. when it first rolls out. That’s largely because Apple has, thus far, seemingly only received clearance for the device from the FDA.
But every Apple Watch Series 4 model sports the new sensors. That’s unlike other region-specific features of Apple’s recent hardware, such as the eSIM in the 2018 iPhone lineup (which are not present on devices sold in China).
This fact was first spotted by 9to5Mac’s Guilherme Rambo, who delved into the code within the iOS 12.1 beta. According to his findings, region limitations related to the ECG feature are software-based instead of hardware-based.
In other words, whether or not the ECG sensors can be used are based on the set software region of a user’s paired devices — like an iPhone and their Apple Watch.
That means if you were to set your own region to the U.S. if you don’t live there, you’ll presumably be able to take an ECG reading with your Series 4 before Apple officially rolls out region-specific support in a software update.
How to Try the Apple Watch ECG outside of the U.S.
- Open Settings.
- Tap General.
- Tap Languages & Regions.
- Tap Region.
- Select United States.
Of course, setting your devices to a region where you don’t live comes with its own set of tradeoffs. Your date and time settings will change, and so will measurements and similar units (your device will be set to Imperial instead of Metric).
Luckily, you won’t need to change your language to U.S. English for the bypass to work. That’s because language and region preferences are two separate settings in iOS and watchOS.
On the other hand, being able to bypass regulatory restrictions is obviously not intended behavior. So Apple may patch this bypass before the final release of ECG support in iOS 12.1 and watchOS 5.1.