Apple Said To Be Focusing On Health With iOS 8 And iWatch, Following Exec Meeting With FDA

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Apple’s plans for iOS 8 focus on redefining health tracking via mobile devices, according to a new report from 9to5Mac, which has a terrific track record when it comes to rumors it has sourced itself. The report details a new marquee application coming in iOS 8 called “Healthbook” that monitors all aspects of health, fitness and workout information, including vitals monitored via the new iWatch, which is said to pack a bevy of sensors and to be “well into development” according to 9to5Mac’s sources.

The health monitoring app called “Healthbook” will come pre-installed on iOS 8, which, if true, would be a huge blow to third-party apps including those made by Fitbit, Nike, Runkeeper and Withings just to name a few. It would track and report steps, calories burned, distance walked and more, including weight fluctuations, and blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and more.

Apple’s focus on health in iOS 8 is given credence by a number of new reports from this week, including the news from the New York Times earlier today that Apple execs met with the FDA late last year to discuss mobile medical applications. Apple also reportedly hired Michael O’Reilly, M.D. away from a position as Chief Medical Officer of Masimo Corporation in July 2013. O’Reilly is an expert in pulse oximetry among other things, which is used to non-invasively take key vitals from a user via optical sensors.

9to5Mac’s report details functionality of the proposed “Healthbook” app, which, as its name suggests, takes a lot of cues from Passbook. It’ll offer swipeable cards for each vital stat it tracks, letting users page through their medical and health information. The report cautions that this functionality could be taken out prior to the final release of iOS 8: With the FDA’s involvement, one concern might be getting the necessary approvals to market the software as a potential medical aid.

As for the iWatch, the new report doesn’t add much in terms of firm details, but it does suggest we could see a release before year’s end, and offers that it could feature sensors that provide data to Healthbook. That app could also use existing third-party monitors and devices designed for iOS to source data, however. One more tidbit about the iWatch suggests that maps will be a central feature of the device, and navigation on the wrist is actually a prime potential advantage of smartwatch devices that has yet to be properly explored.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on these developments, and will update if we learn anything more.