Opinion

My Apple Watch ECG Dilemma: When Tech Isn’t Global 

Here’s how it went down. I knew I needed something to better track my heart, so I immediately thought: Apple Watch. I’m already in the ecosystem, and reviews say it’s great. Let me go buy one! And I did. But immediately after setup, I realised the ECG and many other features were region-locked.

Before you say it, I know. The solution here is that the Ministry of Health in Kenya needs to approve the ECG functionality for it to work in my country. Yes, they do. And I know, I should have done more research before purchasing the watch. Yes, I should. But why the hell does this have to be the case with so many different items we buy locally?

Before this is taken out of context, I love my Apple Watch. It is the Series 9 45mm with GPS. I’ve said this in the short video below. It works really well for me. And in hindsight, I am actually quite glad I didn’t bother with the Cellular Version as I’ve also been made aware that would have been a very bad decision in this market. I would only have discovered about cellular support, or lack thereof, once I’d bought one. And yes, it would also still have been my fault, but there should be a better way to get things working across different markets. Having a list showing all the Apple Watch features that are region locked doesn’t cut it for me.

We live in an interconnected world. We don’t buy things just because they’re marketed in our region. We buy things because we have YouTube. We have Tiktok. We have Twitter. Conversations there are on a global scale. When something is launched, whatever features are advertised there are what we see and think of. So, why can’t companies try and have these features available everywhere? What would it take?

I do understand that not all things can be available everywhere for many reasons. That’s why I can’t complain about something like a different Netflix library in my region. In such cases even subscription prices are different. But with hardware, when things are priced similarly – and can even end up being more expensive thanks to differences in currencies and taxes, and when features can just be turned on and off, it’s a whole different argument.

There needs to be ways things can be made to work better if it’s licensing that’s the issue for different regions. Things work differently in different parts of the world, and having consumers part of the process of getting necessary approvals should be front and centre. It is quite simple really, when you give it a fair amount of thought.

Writing about this reminds me of very many other features I am currently denied on many other devices sold in my market just because of stupid region locks that make no sense. Like Google not enabling access to Google Assistant on iPhones in Kenya. Crazy. Like Microsoft not allowing GamePass subscriptions unless I fake my address to some part in the US. There are so many other examples! I guess it is these experiences that made my realisation of certain Apple Watch functionalities being region locked even more painful.

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