Passive Fitness Tracking App Human Showcases Where HealthKit Shines

The Human app has been on the App Store for a while now. But this beautifully designed passive activity app received a major update that showcases how some of the main new features in iOS 8 can be useful. Human takes advantage of the brand new HealthKit APIs, syncs with the Health app and provides a widget for the Today view.

The last time I covered Human, there were already rumors of an upcoming Healthbook app for iOS 8. Here’s what I wrote at the time: “rumor has it that Apple will add a Healthbook app in iOS 8 and take advantage of the M7. While not impossible, it’s always harder to compete with a first-party app.”

It turns out that the Health app is a completely different beast. Apple didn’t choose to compete head-to-head with fitness apps like RunKeeper, Runtastic and Human, or calorie tracking apps like MyFitnessPal. Instead, the Health app is a central hub for third-party apps to store and exchange data — and it’s very powerful.

Human can become an important piece of your fitness puzzle. As a reminder, Human is a passive app designed to help you stay healthy with a simple goal. Every day, you need to move for 30 minutes or more, and keep up with this simple habit. The company calls this the ‘Daily 30′.

Human’s true power is that you just have to set it up and you can forget about it. You never have to launch the app to start an activity, it just works. You will receive an optional push notification to tell you if you beat the daily goal.

Over time, the company added a few useful features, such as a daily timeline of your activity with distance and maps, M7 support and more. The app even figures out if you are running, cycling or exercising at the gym. Last Friday, Human tracked 100 million activities.

With the new 3.0 version, you can also see an estimation of burned calories. It takes into account your weight, speed and intensity — running for 10,000 steps is not the same as walking for 10,000 steps. Finally, you get a small widget to tell you how far you are in your Daily 30 as well.

But the most interesting feature is definitely the HealthKit integration. Your activity reports is available in the Health app, and you can let other apps use this data.

For example, MyFitnessPal lets you set goals for burned calories. The app can retrieve calorie data from Human using HealthKit. It makes it much easier to use multiple apps and make them all work together — it works like magic.

And this is where Human shines. Adding Human to your iPhone is a matter of minutes. One of the team’s most important design decisions is that you don’t need to spend a few minutes every day to make it work. It keeps a log of your activity without having to launch the app every time you start a run.

In other words, Human does a few things, but it does them very well. With HealthKit, the startup doesn’t need to add useless features that will cripple the experience. Thanks to other third-party apps, for those who didn’t like Human’s simplicity and wanted a little bit more, the app just became a lot more useful.

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