What is Apple Health and HealthKit? Apple’s new upcoming health-based features in iOS 8 will bring your personal well-being measurements to the iPhone. With Health, Apple looks to keep track of the most important person in the world: you! This feature takes a closer look at Apple’s Health app and the HealthKit SDK.

Of all the features announced at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) 2014, it was the Health app that is one of the most anticipated. With Health and iOS 8, Apple is set to turn the iPhone into a device capable of monitoring your personal bio-statistics. If the iPhone turned your phone into a Star Trek communicator, Health is the app that’ll turn it into a Star Trek Tricorder.

See also How to use Apple's Health app to get fit and healthy

What is the Health app?

Apple's Health App running on an iPhone 5S

Health is a new app that looks to collect all your personal biometric data in one place. Launch the health app, and you’ll be able to view your heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

In the Health app, you will be able to see all this personal information about you in one place.The idea is that you can create a personal overview of your health, and this can be shared with doctors and other medical professionals.

How does the Health app collect my information?

The Health app itself does not collect information about your personal health. Instead, it is designed to store information that is collected from a range of third party devices, such as the JawBone Up and iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter. These devices have been connecting to iPhone apps for a while now, but Health will bring all their information together in one place.

Can I add my medical history to Health?

The Medical ID card running in Apple's Health app

You will be able to create an emergency card, called the Medical ID, to the Health card. Your Medical ID is accessible from the Lock screen so it can be accessed in an emergency. Your medical ID Medical ID: Medical Conditions, Medical Note, Allergies and Reactions and Medications.  While nobody can guarantee that medical staff will check your iPhone in an emergency, it does mean that the information will be with you. As the Health app becomes more popular, we expect medical staff to start checking iPhones in emergencies.

What is the HealthKit SDK?

The HealthKit SDK (Software Development Kit) is Apple’s behind-the-scenes software for developers. With the HealthKit SDK developers will be able to integrate their health products into the Health App. It works in  a similar way to the Passbook app, which developers use to store information about passes and tickets. According to Apple: “With HealthKit, developers can make their apps even more useful by allowing them to access your health data, too.”

Will my medical information be safe?

Your medical information being tracked and shared in the Health app

You can share your medical information from the Health app, for example, you can allow the data from your blood pressure app to be automatically shared with your doctor. But you get to choose which of your data you choose with which person (and can turn off sharing at any time). We expect Health to be as secure as any other iOS app (which is to say extremely secure).

What will the Health app and the HealthKit SDK measure?

There isn’t a definitive list of all the things that Health can measure, and it’s possible that Apple and developers can add any metric over time. But here are some of the things we know will be included in the Health app:

  • Calories Burned
  • Sleep
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Medications
  • Nutrition
  • Heart Rate
  • Weight
  • Medial ID
  • Lab Results
  • Diagnostics
  • Fitness
  • Vitals