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Apple’s meaningful upgrade to health-tech for iOS 15

Apple has always had an underlying focus on health data and wearable tech, but its iOS 15 update will provide a level of medical detail and accessibility never seen before.

Apple is currently in day six of its Worldwide Developers Conference for 2021. That’s right, it really has been a year already.

Every June since the late 80s, millions of tech fans have tuned in for the keynote events at Apple’s flagship event. In the last 10 years, as you’ll have no doubt noted, the requisite headlines have been grabbed by promises of gradually thinner iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and MacBooks.

Truthfully, recent conferences have seemed a bit of a stretch to get people forking out for slightly more sophisticated hardware with more cameras and heightened specs. In terms of Steve Jobs’ original ethos of invention for the greater good, things have definitely tailed off.

That being said, this year’s focus on software – with the upcoming rollout of iOS 15 in mind – is providing us with a number of genuinely meaningful upgrades to the tech we already have.

Chief among them, considering the tumultuous year we’ve just had, is a comprehensive overhaul of Apple Health’s features which may help us keep tabs on our loved ones around the clock.

Apple’s new Sharing, Walking Steadiness, and Trends features in the Health app, each displayed on a separate iPhone 12 Pro.
Credit: Apple


User upgrades to Apple Health

It’s safe to say Covid-19 has given us a big wakeup call as to what our main priorities are, and Apple, to its credit, is clearly catering to these changes.

On Monday (June 7th), the tech giant announced a bunch of enhancements for its Health app which will reportedly provide a level of medical detail and accessibility we’ve yet to see on mobile.

In essence, Apple has taken the principles of a social messaging app and combined it with what Health already had. Metrics recorded on people’s overall heartrate, movement, and changes to mobility will be displayed in group-chats where follow up conversations can be had.

When it comes to vulnerable family members, caregivers can even request alerts (denoted by a yellow warning symbol) which will notify them in real time if the feature records a notable shift in body data. This could potentially snuff out health issues before they become emergencies.

To help those at increased risk of falling or with general mobility issues, Apple has also included steadiness exercises tested through a clinical study with over 100,000 participants.

‘Many people around the world are caring for someone, and we want to provide a secure and private way for users to have a trusted partner on their health journey,’ said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, in a statement.


Modernising medical data

Perhaps more significant than this live notification system is Apple’s declaration that our own Health app data will be shared with doctors or physicians – with our permission, of course.

Reaching out to electronic medical record companies across the US, such as Cerner and Athenahealth, Apple hopes to make the health data recorded on our devices available to those who know exactly what they’re looking at.

For those who maybe struggle to recall their symptoms at an appointment, it’s hoped these digital records can soon be referenced for detailed metrics on things like exercise, sleep patterns, heart rate, blood glucose, and more.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to say that in some cases, it potentially could be the difference between life and death.

This is a rare occasion where state-of-the-art technology, on a device intended for leisure, ironically is most applicable to older and more vulnerable populations. Fair play Apple, we’re glad to see it.

This update will arrive in tandem with the iOS 15 in the Autumn, along with the next model of the iPhone. See how we came full circle?

 

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