Tech + Health

06.03.14

Apple Health App Plays to Our Laziness—and It’s Brilliant

How can you corral all your health data in one central repository—effortlessly? It looks like the tech giant has figured that out with its new Health app.

Apple’s new product line is proof the company knows exactly what will make health technology mainstream: laziness.

At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, the company unveiled a whole new ecosystem to connect health trackers and hospitals to our phones. The shiny new Health app can alert a doctor if a user’s blood pressure is too high and also provides a central place to correlate if exercise is translating into weight loss.

“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,” says Apple of the forthcoming app.

Until now, the explosion of health gadgets, from FitBit pedometers to smart bathroom scales, put the burden on the user to take charge of his or her data. That’s not a winning recipe.

I may be walking more, but am I losing weight? Perhaps my lack of sleep is the shadow hurdle keeping those love handles hanging on? Sure, you could do the statistical analysis yourself, but unless the term “multivariate regression” rings a bell, you’ll just have to guess what is making a difference to your waistline.

We could be seeing a new cottage industry of effortless health apps that make improving daily life as easy as checking the weather when we wake up.

Now, with Health, Apple will bring a central repository to the entire biometric madness—to the benefit of consumers.

The more interesting announcement is a partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Apple is working on an automatic alert system that rings a doctor if blood sugar or blood pressure gets out of whack. There are already startups, such as Gero, that are working to predict pending diseases from differences in the way you move throughout the day. If the quality of your sleep tanks or you start walking more slowly, it could be a sign of a potentially serious illness.

For health nuts, it gets even better. I track my daily running workout with the Endomondo app and track my heart rate with devices like the Polar chest strap, Basis Watch, and Mio Alpha. Now I could automatically upload all that data to a part-time coach, who could glance at my performance and give recommendations, rather than me having to pay for an hour-long phone call to explain all the differences.

The new updates are set for the fall. If Apple curates its developer community well, we could be seeing a new cottage industry of effortless health apps that make improving daily life as easy as checking the weather when we wake up.