The use of smartphone apps that assist in personal diet
and fitness tracking has increased steadily over the years since
the first smartphone, but interest in this technology has seen
particularly rapid growth in recent years with the rollout of
products like the Nike+ Fuelband and related apps, and most
recently, Apple's iOS 8 Health app.
What is the Health app?
In short, the Health app
tracks your sleep, nutrition, vitals, and body measurements. Let's
take a look at some of the pros and cons.
It brings together a variety of health and fitness-related
metrics--collated from fitness bands and various third-party
devices--that you can easily monitor in a single interface. It has
a feature called "Medical
ID" in which you can enter all your medical conditions and
emergency contacts, so a person helping you (if you were unable to
provide the information yourself) would be able to look at your
phone and know a little about your medical conditions. To set this
up, simply go to the Health app and tap Medical ID. This Medical ID
can be viewed when the phone is locked by tapping Emergency. In my
case, I am extremely allergic to sulpha and penicillin, so I was
excited to be able to have this information readily available to
those providing me care. Apple has also created a "HealthKit,"
which will help developers to make their health apps and sync their
data to the Health app. This means that all of your health and
fitness apps can communicate and work together. This app will even
make it easier to keep a record of your medical conditions when you
go to the doctor. Apple sees
the Health app as the beginning of a health revolution. Apple's CEO
Tim Cook, says
this should empower you to take care of yourself over time.
The app's main purpose will be to sync with the Apple
Watch, but that won't be coming out until 2015. Also, Apple was
supposed to release the HealthKit at the same time as the Health
app so that developers can start building compatible apps, but they
were not able to release it due to a
last-minute bug. This means that developers will not be able to
release their apps as promptly as they expected, which can have a
significant impact on the utility of Health. There is also a
disadvantage in that your information can be exposed, especially in
light of Apple's recent iCloud hack, but each app comes with a privacy
policy that all users should agree to before installation.
All in all, the Health app has a lot of potential to be
beneficial to our everyday lives. Try it out for yourself and see
what you think. Like it? Don't like it? Provide your feedback so
the next generation app will be even better!