There’s a Dark Side to the Apple Watch Series 8’s New Feature

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There's a Dark Side to the Apple Watch Series 8's New Feature Listen to this article

We discussed our concerns regarding privacy and period-tracking apps a few months ago. It’s still unclear whether that’s a legitimate fear or just a terrible hypothetical, but it is within the realm of possibility, which makes Apple’s newest Watch feature even more perplexing. If there’s concern about the safety of cycle-tracking, do you really want your Apple Watch Series 8 automatically monitoring it?

Dark Side to Apple Watch Series 8's New Feature

Let’s take a look at what Apple has rolled out. The new Apple Watch Ultra and 8 both offer “temperature sensing” and “cycle tracking with retroactive ovulation estimates.”

Note that Apple does throw in a footnote that neither of these features is a true medical assessment and should not be used for family planning purposes.

Using temperature to measure where someone is in their ovulation cycle is scientifically sound in a general sense.

It’s just that this feels like a gimmick that could potentially backfire badly. It’s retroactively tracking ovulation, so it is absolutely NOT a way to prevent pregnancy. Apple says that information is only being saved on the device itself, but that’s still dangerous.

Right now, emergency contraceptives like Plan B are legal in all states, but there are ongoing legal challenges and concerns that some states may attempt to restrict access. Plan B works by delaying or preventing ovulation.

Now Apple wants you to strap a device to your wrist that will monitor the state of your ovulation. See how this could potentially be problematic?

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

What happens when law enforcement accuses someone of using Plan B and uses their Apple Watch data to prove the disruption in their cycle, for example?

Are we being paranoid? Possibly.

But law enforcement in Nebraska used Facebook Messenger to build a case against a woman who sought an abortion that had become illegal in the state, another scenario that previously felt like a paranoid fear.

Securing information directly on a device is good, but it’s still information that can be accessed via a warrant.

It’s not medically useful; it won’t help if you’re trying to get pregnant or prevent pregnancy; all it does is collect information. Which is lovely, but you can learn the same amount using a basal thermometer and a notebook.

This would be a weird novelty addition to the Apple Watch features at a different time. But in the world we’re in now, this feels less like a cool add-on and more like an ominous reminder that our privacy and bodily autonomy are hanging by a thread.

At best, it feels tone-deaf and out of touch for Apple to roll this out, but the potential abuses of it make it very frightening and the first feature we’d disable in a new Apple Watch Series 8!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?