One of the most exciting features in Apple Watches over the last couple of years has been the ECG feature. It’s sparked a number of headlines for its role in saving people’s lives due to falls or irregular heartbeats. Despite mostly positive sentiments about the feature, however, it’s still not available in Australia.
The ECG feature was first announced in September 2018 for the Apple Watch Series 4. At the time, Apple’s chief operating officer said the company was working to get the feature introduced in countries around the world.
Because the feature acts like a medical device, monitoring your heart rate and providing health advice, it has to pass various laws and regulations in each country. Outside of the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regulators in Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore were among some of the first to do this.
By the time the Series 5 was announced, more countries had allowed the feature to operate within their jurisdictions. But Australia was notably absent from that list. A few new countries, including New Zealand in March 2020, have since added the feature.
The ECG feature is still missing from Australian Apple Watches
It’s not great news locally, though. Australia’s medical devices regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has confirmed to Gizmodo Australia that Apple Watches still aren’t allowed to have ECG functionality in Australia.
“If Apple claims the ECG function in its Apple Watch has therapeutic benefit for wearers, the watch would need to be included in the ARTG in order to be legally supplied in Australia,” a TGA spokesperson said to Gizmodo Australia, repeating the same statement it provided us in September 2019.
“TGA has not received any applications for products manufactured and/or supplied by Apple, nor is there any Apple device included on the ARTG.”
The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) is a list showing which goods can be lawfully sold in the country. If a company intends to sell a medical or therapeutic product it needs to apply through the TGA for it to be legally sold. This is to stop snake oil salesmen fabricating medical products without governmental oversight.
Gizmodo Australia asked Apple to confirm why it is yet to put the devices on the register but it declined to comment. It also declined to comment on whether it has ever started this process.
If previous years are anything to go by, the Apple Watch Series 6 will be announced in September. If it doesn’t include ECG functionality in Australia, it will be the third Apple Watch in a row to be devoid of the feature.