Apple’s iOS 9 updates for HealthKit will greatly expand the range of data types it can track, with significant additions around monitoring signals vital to tracking female reproductive health especially.
Some of the new HealthKit data types were discussed by Apple on stage at the WWDC 2015 keynote, but many were not illustrated in detail. Apple’s water intake metric was one that was announced, and that will allow users to monitor their total volume of water consumed during a day, including water taken in via food. It can gather this info either through apps where a user enters the info manually, or even via connected devices like Bluetooth water bottles that monitor consumption.
UV exposure is another new data type, which can be gathered from photosensitive accessories like certain wearables. It’s measured in Health by UV, on a scale of 0 to 12, with 0 being the least intense and 12 being the most. This also works in tandem with a new Fitzpatrick Skin Type data category. This scale allows a user to specify their skin tone on a range from I to VI, and these values correspond roughly with the new skin tones employed in the emoji introduced in iOS 8.3.
Women’s health metrics are something developers have been asking for a long time, and now Apple is tracking six different categories of data in that area. These include basal body temp, cervical mucus quality, ovulation, menstrual flow, vaginal spotting and sexual activity. Each type is tracked differently depending on what kind of info is required.
Ovulation tests, for instance, can be used to provide negative and positive values for apps that plug into HealthKit to measure that metric. Users can input menstruation start and end dates, as well as relative flow volume, in order to keep tabs on that. Sexual activity is another one that can be used using diary-like recording of specific incidents via apps dedicated to that kind of logging, and supports the addition of protected vs. unprotected state, both in terms of STIs and protection against pregnancy.
Apple’s new data classes should help improve the accuracy, usefulness and reach of some of the more popular types of apps in the health and wellness categories of the App Store, which include fertility and period trackers.