A new report from The Wall Street Journal says Apple struggled to incorporate all the health-related features it initially wanted for its first smartwatch, and was forced to leave out those features in the final product.
Those health features that didn’t make it — like measuring blood pressure, stress and heart activity — were either too complex or too difficult to implement, sources told the WSJ. Other features “could have prompted unwanted regulatory oversight.”
The report says Apple executives had a tough time figuring out “why a consumer would need or want such a device” once those health features were nixed. Yet, Apple plans to launch the first Apple Watch in just under two months. It has some very basic health features like a heart rate sensor and step counter, but it will mainly be used to display app notifications from one’s iPhone.
Apple isn’t the only company learning how hard it can be to build a really advanced fitness tracker. Jawbone still has not started shipping its highly-advanced UP3 wristband, which was originally slated for a December launch.
Jawbone says the UP3 is packed with sensors to measure one’s resting heart rate, respiration, stress levels, skin temperature, and all three sleep stages. It can also know the difference between certain physical activities, like if you’re playing tennis versus going for a jog, and it has a built-in smart coach to keep you motivated.
That device over two months late, and it’s still unclear when we will see it ship. We’ve reached out to Jawbone and will update the story when we hear back.
There are plenty of other fitness trackers available, but they’re imperfect in one way or another: For example, customers love the versatility of the $US250 Fitbit Surge, but customers have complained about inconsistent and “erratic” readings during workouts. Even Microsoft offers a really advanced fitness tracker — the $US200 “Band” comes with built-in GPS and 10 sensors to track things like heart rate, sun exposure, and stress — but users many customers have complained about wrist discomfort and rashes.
The bottom line: Advanced fitness trackers might sound compelling, but some of the top tech companies are struggling to make highly desirable features work consistently.
It’s unclear if Apple will add the features it originally wanted for the Apple Watch, like blood pressure and blood oxygen level tracking, into a later iteration of its watch: According to the WSJ, the Apple Watch project was internally labelled as a “black hole” because it drew a ton of resources over a development span of four-plus years.