Apple removing AFib capabilities from a particular Apple Watch

This maybe slightly off topic, but perhaps worth including.
My sister was diagnosed with A-Fib (She is under supervision, medicated etc. -we live in Canada) I bought her an Apple Watch thinking it will be a useful adjunct to her regular checkups. All went well up to this week when the heart monitoring function of the watch appeared to stop functioning. I suggested that she goes to the nearest Apple store as the watch is still under warranty. In the store (Montreal) it came out in passing that she is diagnosed with A-Fib and the app was removed without her consent. She was not allowed to have it. This seems to me both unfair (I see no mention of such restriction in the advert for the watch) and arbitrary. Apart from my own frustration (I bought the watch specifically for this function) it seems to me there is a more general policy issue: What kinds of residual legal rights Apple has with respect to installed software after purchase? and what kinds of authority Apple Store staff have to remove or alter software without owners’ explicit consent? --If this issue is judged inappropriate for this discussion, please move it to a more appropriate stream.

I don’t understand this at all. Did your sister discuss removing the app with the “Genius” at the store and give permission to remove it? There is a lot of research from respected sources that the A-fib app is a good thing to have:

And Apple is continuing research projects with universities and medical companies about A-fib and other heart research, including subsidizing the cost of a Watch for participants in a study specifically about A-Fib and seniors:

There’s even coverage about how the Covid-19 study is affecting this very important study:

IMHO, there is clearly something wrong with the content of your sister’s Watch being tampered with. What I would do is to contact Apple directly, not via the local store, and explain why having the A-Fib app is important for her, and that is the reason why you invested a significant amount of money to buy her the Watch. Make it clear that it was not clearly explained why the app was removed and why she was forbidden to reinstall it.

If you do not get a satisfactory answer, it might be time to consider a nuclear reaction after you’ve escalated to at least one higher up in the chain. Let them know you will be contacting the press, consumer advocacy and government heath organizations about this. This is exactly the type of human interest, health and personal property rights issues that news media of all sizes loves to cover, especially when it involves a major multinational Fortune 100 company that happens to have just crossed the two trillion $ valuation mark and presents itself as an essential healthcare equipment and services provider vs. a sweet, innocent elderly lady with a serious heart ailment. It might help to mention a few names of outlets that you will be contacting immediately.

It wasn’t available in Canada up until last year, but supposedly now it is approved.

Apple does have a support page for this.

However, that should just turn off the irregular heart notifications; it shouldn’t turn off the heart rate monitor or the ECG app.

I do not know for sure, but it’s possible that the Apple Watch is not approved by regulators for detecting signs of a-fib for people known to have the condition. It may be that it is only approved to detect a-fib for people who have never been diagnosed or treated for it. Seems like a fine line, but I could see regulators wanting to have solid data that shows that the watch will reliably warn of a-fib if it’s a known condition and Apple does not yet have the data that supports that use.

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There was a notice when I first installed it that said not to use if you knew you had AFIB. I think it is designed to let people know that they have an issue and to contact their doctor if they get a warning.


We have re-contacted the person @ the Apple store. (They do not allow customers in the store, and time run out running back & forth) I do not know if he was a “genius”. After much insistence and consultation with the “powers-that-be” that the app should not be removed, they relented. However, the app could not be made to work. We were advised to send the watch back to Apple -it is under guarantee. It remains to be seen if it will come back with or without the A-Fib app. The app is approved for Canada, but clearly they are instructed to put pressure on customers with diagnosed cardiac problems to remove the app in order to limit liability. This is bad policy. Either supply the app --with appropriate warnings-- or get out of selling this “feature”. Putting pressure on a 75 year old women with heart condition to give up on having this app --the reason we bought her the watch-- is no way to operate. (Assuming that the service person/genius was following policy)


The Apple Store location does not have the ability to change the software that is installed on an Apple Watch (any more than you can, anyway.) If the feature went away it was due to a change in settings or something similar. If the EKG app was removed from the watch, it can be re-added using the watch app on the phone pared with the watch, just like if mail was removed or something similar.

You are correct. I should have said “disabled it”. After much arguments back and fro -customers were not permitted in the store, service folks came in & out- we were told that it is re-enabled, but it’s not working. “Send it back to Apple to repair under guarantee.” We are waiting to see if the functionality will be restored, or not. It would be very helpful if Apple took steps to be more transparent about what is available via installed application: by model / where / under what conditions?

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