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How to set up and take advantage of the iOS 8 Health app

More than one of you must have hidden the new Health app in a folder next to the Kiosk, Stock Exchange and Game Center when you first installed iOS 8. This is what I did when I updated my iPhone in September after opening it for the first time and seeing that the graphics were empty . But a few days ago I decided to go in and give it a try.

This app was released during last year’s WWDC and was presented as a way to consolidate all health measurements in one place. At the same time, HealthKit was presented, a set of tools for developers who wish to integrate their apps into a common system . Although this is the main function of Health, the truth is that there is much more hidden under the surface.

First stop: fill in the medical data

How to set up and take advantage of the iOS 8 Health appHow to set up and take advantage of the iOS 8 Health app

Many people have drug allergies or need special treatment at certain times. It is not uncommon to have a friend or family member wearing a bracelet who informs medical services of these types of conditions. Within the Health app there is a section where you can specify these and many other medical details :

  • Basic information, such as name, surname, date of birth and photo
  • What medical conditions you have, allergic reactions, medication and any important medical notes.
  • Adding emergency contacts and their relationship.
  • Blood type, organ donor, weight and height.

The data can be accessed from the locked screen and without entering the unlocking password. The idea behind this is to provide basic medical information to the medical services that are treating us in case of an emergency. Obviously, is not a substitute for medical bracelets but a way to make medical work a little easier in difficult times. Especially for contacting relatives.

Healthcare helps emergency services identify and locate the patient quickly

Apple stated that took the sensitivity and privacy of the data entered here very seriously. In August it notified the developers that they could not sell this data to third parties. There is a note at the end of this section reminding the user of the confidentiality of this data. In addition, there is the possibility to deactivate this medical card whenever we want.

General Health app setup

Health will be a very useful app for those who like to record their daily physical activity. It has a first menu that visually displays the data collected by the app. The M7 and M8 chips included in the iPhone 5s and 6 are in charge of recording our physical movement, such as walking and running. Therefore, you do not need a specific sensor or a quantifying bracelet to measure the steps we take. Although it will always be more accurate to use a wearable device than the phone.

The iPhone 5s and 6 have integrated physical activity sensors

iOS 8 y el iWatch, podrían ser la apuesta de Apple para redefinir los sistemas mHealth y Desmontando el futuro papel del iWatch en nuestra salud.

Más información sobre Salud The first time we launch Salud we will have only two metrics (Steps and Distance walking + running). You can add many more from the “Health data” section, where you will find a lot of parameters grouped by category. In addition, data points can be added in case we have forgotten to attach the quantifying device.

For example, if we have a bracelet that measures sleep and its developer has integrated his app with Salud, we will see the data recorded here. If one day we forget to wear the bracelet at night, we have the option to say how long we have been sleeping.

Third party integration and the Apple Watch input

Health is Apple’s attempt to bring order to the chaotic world of personal measurement apps. Each manufacturer has its own device and accompanying app, so it was necessary for Cupertino to create a common framework. But Health does not intend to replace anyone . The developers choose freely whether to embrace HealthKit or not.

Although Apple cancelled the launch of the third party integration at the last minute, we can already count on them from iOS 8.0.2. Now we have a good selection of apps adapted to HealthKit grouped in a specific section.

The manufacturers seem to be targeting Health little by little . During the past CES we could see up to 8 accessories that made use of this system. Heart sensors, an asthma monitor and glucose meters were among them, although for the latter they will have to wait for iOS 8.2 to be able to adapt.

And finally we have the Apple Watch. Apple executives already made it clear that the company’s clock would have sensors and software designed for physical quantification . Specifically, in the Watch itself we will have two apps: Fitness and Workout. Little do we know about them beyond that they will use a system of medals as a way to encourage us to do physical exercise.

As we always say in these cases, Salud is version 1.0 of Apple’s vision in this field. From here, we will see successive iterations that should increase the value of this software in the eyes of the user.

At Apple