Technology

Apple’s anticipated ECG app rolls out today in watchOS 5.1.2

Valentina Palladino

The latest update for Apple Watches has just been released, bringing much-needed functionality to Series 4 devices. Apple launched watchOS 5.1.2 today, which includes its ECG application for monitoring beats irregular heart.

The Apple Watch Series 4 cameras all have built-in electrodes for measuring electrocardiograms, or ECGs. At the time of the Watch's debut in September, the native Apple application with which the electrodes were communicating was not yet ready for mainstream use. Now this is part of the watchOS 5.1.2 update.

The ECG application is for the watch itself, while the ECG data is stored in the Apple Health app on iOS devices. To take an ECG reading, users must place their finger on the flat side of the digital crown on their Series 4 watch. The electrode of the Digital Crown communicates with the other electrode of the watch, located near the monitor heart rate, to take a full measure of the ECG.

The process takes about 25 seconds, then the watch displays your measurement as a waveform on its screen, with an explanation of what it means. Apple designed it to detect irregular heart rhythms, which could be signs of atrial fibrillation .

But even with the FDA's 4-series approval label, neither the Watch Watch application nor the Apple ECG application are tools diagnosis and they will not replace the visit of a doctor. ECG features are designed to allow users to better control their health and to provide more general information to their physicians. The Health app even allows users to export their data in PDF format in order to transmit them more easily to their doctor.

The Apple Watch Series 4 stands out from previous models and competing smartwatches with the new ECG features and the new fall detection feature. Thanks to the updated Accelerometer Series 4, these watches can now detect the moment when the wearer has fallen, warning their loved ones and emergency services when the latter can not do it himself.

ECG functions are limited to Series 4 watches, but Apple's Irregular Heartbeat Notification function works on Series 1 and newer devices. This feature is also included in the watchOS 5.1.2 update, as well as new complications for the Infograph watch face, availability of Walkie Talkies in the Control Center, bug fixes, and more. Here are the full release notes:

This update includes new features, improvements, and bugfixes:

New Apple Watch Series 4 ECG App (US and US territories only)
Allows you to take an electrocardiogram similar to an electrocardiogram to a probe
Can tell if your heart rate is showing signs of atrial fibrillation – a severe form of irregular heartbeat – or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating at a normal pace
Save the ECG waveform, classification and any symptoms noted in a PDF file on the Health iPhone app to share with your doctor

Adds the possibility of receiving an alert if an irregular heartbeat that appears to be atrial fibrillation is detected (United States and US territories only)
Provides direct access to movie tickets, coupons, and reward cards supported in the wallet when you use a contactless reader
Receive notifications and animated celebrations when you get the most points per day during an activity competition.
New Infographic Complications for Mail, Maps, Messages, Find My Friends, Home, News, Phone, Remote
Manage your Walkie Talkie availability from the Control Center

Download watchOS 5.1.2 by accessing the Software Update section of the General menu of the Watch iOS application. It is available for Series 1 and newer devices paired with iOS devices running iOS 12.1.1 and later. You must have the watch placed on its charger, connected to Wi-Fi or LTE, with at least 50% battery to download the update.

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