Apple just unveiled HealthKit, a new app bundled with iOS 8 that's designed to help users keep better track of their personal health and fitness data. HealthKit appears simply as "Health" on the iPhone home screen, and provides an easy-to-access dashboard where you can monitor important health metrics on a daily basis, while also stepping back to examine your fitness trends over a longer period of time. SVP Craig Federighi said this is a marked improvement over the current situation, which has your health information strewn across various apps or "silos."
To centralize everything, HealthKit allows health and fitness apps to share data; Nike is among the first companies signed on to support that feature. "For example, the Nike+ apps using NikeFuel will be able to pull in other key HealthKit metrics such as sleep and nutrition to build a custom user profile and improve athletic performance," Apple says. Apple will also partner with the Mayo Clinic and other health institutions, allowing healthcare providers to receive and transmit data from your checkups. The company says it has deep privacy protections in place to secure those sensitive records.
But simply calling Health an "app" may be underselling it somewhat. Health apps have proven tremendously popular with consumers, and this represents Apple's attempt to make a grand entrance — at least among iOS users. It's also been speculated that HealthKit will work in tandem with the fabled (and still unannounced) iWatch.
Until now, Apple has shied away from making its own fitness software. Instead, the company has for years provided a mobile platform — iOS — that's allowed companies like Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike, RunKeeper, and MapMyFitness to showcase their apps. It's also made strides to improve the iPhone as a fitness tool by adding specialized hardware like last year's M7 coprocessor.
Apple is making its own health push
But apparently Apple has decided that it's time to jump in with iOS 8 and HealthKit. At the very least, that decision is likely based off of strong data. Apple sells devices like the Jawbone Up24, Fitbit Flex, and Nike Fuelband in its own retail stores; the company is perfectly aware of how popular they've become.
9to5Mac first broke word that Apple was preparing its own push into fitness tracking earlier this year. Soon after, the site published "recreated" screenshots revealing "Healthbook," perhaps an early name for HealthKit. (Though the look here differs from 9to5Mac's mockups.) Those reports, which came months ahead of today's WWDC keynote, effectively spoiled one of the major additions to iOS 8 — and there aren't many. The upcoming software update is largely an iterative progression of the brand new user interface and design style that Apple introduced with iOS 7 last year.