Tattoos make Apple Watch malfunction, says users

Apple’s wrist gadget functions apparently disrupted by tattoo ink

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Early adopters of the Apple Watch have found that a number of its key functions are disrupted by their tattoos, confusing the sensors of the ornament.

Users of the watch, which went on sale last week, took to social media on Thursday under the hashtag #tattoogate to air their frustration with the flaw.

A locking mechanism on the watch normally disengages when the watch detects it is being worn. One user on Reddit, a social networking site, said this mechanism failed to work on decorated skin.

"My hand isn't tattooed and the Watch stayed unlocked. Once I put it back on the area that is tattooed with black ink, the watch would automatically lock again," the user wrote.

The watch’s heart rate readings are also significantly different on tattooed and untattooed wrists, according to Matt Siegel, a Reuter’s reporter who has a black tattoo on his left arm.

A support page from the company says tattoos can interfere with readings from the heart rate monitor, but does not mention interference with other functions.

"Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings," it said.