Buying an Apple Watch 4 now for EKG and AFib features may leave you heartbroken

Don't confuse announcing with shipping.

If you paid any attention whatsoever to last week's Apple announcement event, you know that Apple's biggest announcements were the atrial fibrillation and electrocardiogram-on-your-wrist features for the Apple Watch Series 4. But if your primary reason for buying the Series 4 is its new heart health capabilities, you might want to save your Benjamins, at least for now.

Like many of you, I'm a sometimes practitioner of the quantified self. I try to measure my exercise, my sleep, my steps, my weight (although, meh), and ever since I bought my Series 2 Watch, I've obsessively checked my heart rate.

Also: Why digital health's future depends on Apple finding a cloud partner

But Apple's new heart monitoring features step up what it calls "guardianship" quite a bit. Our own Jason Perlow recently had a heart scare that might have proven fatal were he not using a beta heart monitoring application on his Apple Watch. It got me thinking. When Apple announced the Series 4, I was ready to place an order as soon as they were available.

But then I got to reading the small print. The very, very, VERY small print. As it turns out, both the electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and AFib monitoring features will not ship with the Apple Watch Series 4.

Wait. What?

You got it. Even though these were the big features of the recent Apple event, it turns out that the ECG feature isn't available for new Series 4 buyers. At least for now. Neither is the AFib feature.

If you carefully read through Apple's Watch Series 4 health page, you'll see "ECG app coming later this year" in very tiny print:

ecg-1.jpg

Gotta love that small print.

Likewise, if you read about how Apple Watch is "looking out for you," you'll find that it's not. Also in very tiny print are the words, "Irregular rhythm notification coming later this year."

ecg-2.jpg

This, too, is not available at launch time.

Exactly when is later this year? We don't know. All we can say is that "this year" ends on December 31. Speaking personally, I'm holding off on my purchase until these features are available. My Series 2 is just fine for now.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

Previous and related coverage

How the iPhone lost its crown to the Apple Watch

The iPhone has finally been upstaged by the Apple Watch.

We compare Samsung Galaxy Watch vs Apple Watch Series 4: Best doesn't always win

Apple just announced its latest Apple Watch about a month after Samsung revealed the Galaxy Watch. Both are excellent smartwatches with a focus on health and fitness, and while one is a better value, the other is likely to sell millions more.

Apple Watch Series 4 doubles down on digital health: Features, specs, prices

Apple has upgraded the Apple Watch throughout and it's clear that the company has bet the farm on digital health and wellness. It's likely to have multiple enterprise use cases.

15 essential Apple Watch apps for busy professionals TechRepublic

A lot of business professionals are using the Apple Watch as their smartwatch of choice. But how can you get the most out of the device while you're at work?