watchOS 10.3 update is safe; doesn’t delete Apple Watch Blood Oxygen app


Apple Watch Series 7 running watchOS 10.3 has a fully functional Blood Oxygen app.
Seeing is believing: This Apple Watch Series 7 running watchOS 10.3 has a fully functional Blood Oxygen app.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Some Apple Watch owners might be hesitant about installing the just-released watchOS 10.3 update over concerns that it’ll remove the controversial Blood Oxygen application. But there’s no reason for concern — it does not.

We tested multiple devices to be extra sure.

Apple Watch Blood Oxygen app is/isn’t available

Why the concern? Apple is locked in a patent-infringement battle with Irvine, Calif.-based Masimo Corp. And Apple’s losing — multiple U.S. courts agree that the Apple Watch’s light-based pulse oximeters violate a patent held by the medical-device company.

As a result, Apple is banned from importing and selling the wearable in the United States. The company’s workaround is to disable the Blood Oxygen app on new Apple Watch units sold in this country.

Fortunately, Apple isn’t killing the software on previously sold smartwatches. Even so, it’s not clear how Apple is going to handle disabling the app going forward. There are concerns that Apple also will be blocked from distributing watchOS updates that contain the software.

watchOS 10.3 is safe to install

So far, the Apple versus Masimo case doesn’t affect new versions of the Apple Watch system software.

Cult of Mac installed watchOS 10.3 on an Apple Watch Series 6 and an Apple Watch Series 7, and the Blood Oxygen application continues to function on both.

Still, users of the wearable who use the pulse oximeter should continue to be wary of future system software updates. At least until they’ve been tested.

Ready to upgrade? watchOS 10.3 includes a new Unity Bloom watch face as well as bug fixes.

The update can be installed directly onto an Apple Watch, as long as the wearable is connected to Wi-Fi. From the Settings app, just navigate to General > Software Update. Or you can install it from an iPhone by opening the Apple Watch app and going to My Watch > General > Software Update.


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