A Look at 'Health' and 'HealthKit', Apple's New Health Initiative
Ahead of WWDC, perhaps one of the most hyped features for iOS 8 was "Healthbook," which was said to serve as a Passbook-style app that aggregated a variety of health-related information in a colorful card array.
While Apple did indeed announce a new health initiative and accompanying app, "Healthbook" turned out to be off the mark. The app is called simply "Health," and appears to differ a bit from how it was described in early rumors. According to Apple, Health is designed to be an "easy-to-read" dashboard of health and fitness data, which can pull in information from several different sources. "It might just be the beginning of a health revolution," reads Apple's iOS 8 Health page.
Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol -- your health and fitness apps are great at collecting all that data. The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health.
The Health app keeps track of several different health metrics measured by various devices, including heart rate, calories, cholesterol, and more. It also features an "emergency card" that includes all of a user's important health information, including blood type and allergies, which can be displayed directly on the lock screen of an iOS device.
As can be seen in screenshots of the app, it aggregates information into a selection of categories such as Diagnostics, Fitness, Lab Results, Medications, Nutrition, Sleep, and Vitals. Many of these categories can also be displayed on a dashboard chart, giving users an at-a-glance view of their overall health.
Accompanying Health is the HealthKit tool for developers, which can be incorporated into both new and existing health and fitness apps to allow them to access the health data stored within the Health app. Users are able to choose exactly what's shared and can, potentially, choose to share data from a health-related app with a doctor. Apps can also be authorized to share information with each other. A nutrition app might share how many calories are consumed with a fitness app, for example.
According to Dr. John H. Noseworthy, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Apple's HealthKit has the potential to "revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people." The Mayo Clinic is already working with Apple and HealthKit, creating an app that allows patients to monitor their blood pressure, sending alerts to doctors automatically.
Despite all of the focus on Apple's health related initiative before WWDC, the company spent very little time going over the Health app. It is likely we'll see an additional focus on Health in the coming months as it is likely to also integrate with Apple's much-rumored wearable device, the iWatch. Health and HealthKit, both part of iOS 8, are available to developers today with a public release of the operating system expected in the fall.