Apple Health, minus the ‘book’, announced

click to enlargeBreaking and developing… Apple announced their long-rumored health tracking app [TTA 22 Mar] this morning at their WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) in San Francisco. The consumer app is called Health (not Healthbook) and the developer platform HealthKit which are both part of iOS8 for iPhones and iPads in the fall. HealthKit facilitates pulling in of health data from third-party developers so that all health-related information for the consumer user is in one ‘hub’, similar to what Apple’s Passbook app does now as a ‘virtual pocket’ for airline boarding passes, movie tickets and coupons. Apple’s Craig Federighi, senior VP of software (pictured, courtesy of The Verge), made the announcement of the app and platform as part of the broader debut of iOS8 this morning.

Already on board is Mayo Clinic with an app that logs information like blood pressure, tracking normal range and it appears from reports that a severe enough deviation will initiate a contact with medical professionals. Nike was prominently featured as an app provider, further confirming that it’s leaving the hardware to their close corporate partner now that it’s out of the FuelBand business [TTA 22 April]. Epic Systems, a leading large system (hospitals/practices) EHR, appears to be integrating integrating its personal health record (PHR) with HealthKit, “suggesting a framework for getting information collected via HealthKit into patients’ MyChart (Epic PHR–Ed.) app.”

Editor Donna wonders if the still-in-early-days Better iPhone health personal assistant app (PHA), developed in conjunction with and backed by the aforementioned Mayo Clinic [TTA 23 Apr], will prominently integrate into Health. (We’ll cover when this develops, as we think it will–but mum’s their word for right now.)

In Mashable, the news was applauded by the CEO of leading app MyFitnessPal as a big validation. In his opinion, Apple would work with the existing field of apps and devices. Leading fitness bands Jawbone and Fitbit had no comment. Fitbit was shown during the presentation: CNET (one of six pictures here) and The Verge (article below). The latter makes the excellent point that Jawbone, Fitbit and the Nike FuelBand have all been sold in Apple’s stores.

The speculation is that Health will be a key part of the features of the iWatch to come, but Mashable in quoting Skip Snow of Forrester Research does bring up a significant wrinkle. Bluetooth LE as a network protocol chews up a lot of battery power, and bigger batteries make for clunky devices. Not exactly the Apple design ethic. Could it be that what’s delaying the iWatch is development of a new, more power-efficient network standard?

Update 3 June: With iOS8 having apps communicating with each other, have the Apple-oids opened the door for a Happy Hacking Holiday?  Stilgherrian in ZDNet points out that the ‘attack surface’ in info security-ese just got a whole lot larger. A future ‘oopsie’?

Hat tip to Editor Toni Bunting

More information: Mashable can’t stop mashing stories: Apple Reveals iOS 8: Interactive Notifications, Health App and MoreApple Gets Into Fitness Tracking With Health App and HealthKit for iOS 8Apple’s First Step Into Health Tracking Is Small But Powerful. Mobihealthnews gets into the act noting Epic’s involvement: Apple reveals tracking app HealthKit and partners with Mayo Clinic, Epic. The Verge positively is on said verge with Apple HealthKit announced: a hub for all your iOS fitness tracking needs.

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