The iPhone ‘Health’ app and ‘HealthKit’ service: What can they give me?
Ever the leaders in creating highly useful applications, the Apple has put forward a new application with the introduction of the iOS 8. It is simply called “Health” and it is a front end of a more complex set of programs and features that have been collectively labeled the HealthKit.
While the HealthKit service as a whole has seen some issues and bugs, the iOS 8.0.2 update has reportedly fixed all the troubles and now all the iPhone users who regularly update their phones can enjoy the benefits of this new service.
What this service does is that it collects all the data relevant for your health and keeps it in one place to be easily accessible and allowing you to get a quick look at anything that might interest you about your health. Also, it can monitor any changes in your well-being, by working closely with other applications, trackers, or some other peripheral devices that are attached to your iPhone, which are used for measuring your current health state (be it weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, or anything else).
Basically, what Apple did was to unite all the applications previously used for monitoring health into one service that collects and quantifies all the relevant data.
What can ‘HealthKit’ do for me?
In theory, the HealthKit service is supposed to be able to connect with all the things that you might use to track your health (like other applications, wearables, and even other smart devices), and then use that connection to keep track of all the changes that occur, adding the data to your iPhone.
For example, if you use an application that is designed to keep track of the glucose level in your blood, the HealthKit will connect with it and have the information readily available when you open the Health app.
However, if you also use an application that keeps track of your daily calorie intake, then the HealthKit will connect the two applications together, adding the relevant data to your glucose level readings, if applicable. This connectivity goes on in many ways both imaginable and unimaginable.
Already many app developers, smart device manufacturers, and even some health service providers are jumping on the HealthKit bandwagon and are making their products HealthKit compatible. Reportedly, many more are yet to come, which makes this even more interesting, because, not only will this app help you track your health, it will even be able to support you with information on how to improve your health and warn you about the signs and symptoms of potential troubles ahead.
Imagine the application telling you to go to a hospital right away because you might be headed for a heart attack, as shown by your blood-pressure level, your tiredness, your sleep levels, etc.
What can I use ‘Health’ for?
Unlike HealthKit, which is a service and a framework uniting all the other health services, devices, and applications (behind the scenes), the Health is the visible part of the whole process, which allows the user to simply and quickly access and read all the data that has been collected.
It is a complimentary application that will come with the iOS 8 update on your iPhone. It will depend on you whether you want to use it or not, but, since it offers so much in ways of convenience, it is my recommendation that you do.
Primarily, this application will show you a dashboard that contains a few buttons (data sorting buttons on top, application options on the bottom).
The buttons on the bottom serve for navigating the application and they contain the following: Dashboard, Health Data, Sources and Medical ID.
The Health Data is the part that contains all the information that you have allowed to be collected by the service and, also, it allows you to input all the measurements manually, if there are no readily available devices that can measure and input the data automatically.
Also, it allows you to access each of the measurements and decide whether you want the data to be shared with other devices that keep track of your health or not. Note that Apple has stated that the data will be stored locally (i.e. on your phone) and will not be allowed to leave your phone or be given to others.
The Sources menu allows you to control which applications and devices are connected to the HealthKit. Once you attach a device or an application, it will send a request to the Health app and then wait for your decision on whether to connect it to the service or not. This way, you have a good overview of which apps and devices are supplying you with which kind of health data. You can also change the working state of all the devices at all times.
The Medical ID is, basically, the most useful function that this application offers. The first time that you open this submenu, it will require you to create your Medical ID. This will ask for your medical records and any other medically relevant information that you can provide. This way, Health will have the information readily available for all the situations where one might need medical records.
For example, being in a car accident can render you unable to give important medical details to the person treating you, but, by simple swiping of your lock-screen and then tapping Emergency, the important emergency information (ranging from your blood group to allergies and even an emergency contact) will come up, and make it easier for the care-giver to know what to do and what not to do.
How can all this help me?
By storing all the health data in one place and allowing you to keep track of it with a swipe of your finger, the iPhone Health app and the underlying HealthKit service can replace all the other applications and devices that you use to keep track of your health.
Things like pedometers, fitness trackers and applications that are used to measure your calories input and sleep levels can all be replaced with this one app. If you are an iPhone owner, definitely do not pass this one up, since it is free and infinitely useful.
If you have any further comments or questions, don’t hesitate to leave them below.