Apple appears to be planning an assault on the fast-growing market for health and fitness tracking, with reports that it is readying an application called Healthbook for launch with iOS 8, the next version of its mobile operating system.
The introduction of Healthbook by Apple (Cupertino, CA, USA) could shake up the entire market for remote health monitoring and deal a blow to smaller companies that have been targeting this opportunity.
According to reports from 9to5mac, Healthbook will be capable of tracking a user’s bloodwork, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, physical activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and weight.
Through a ‘weight’ feature, customers will be able to keep track of their body mass index and monitor this as part of a weight-loss program.
More interestingly, the app will also be able to monitor blood sugar levels, offering major benefits to people suffering from diabetes.
Some diabetics have to check their blood sugar levels several times a day, and need to carry blood checkers around for this purpose, but they could obviously make do without those devices if an iPhone app were to support the same functionality.
The 9to5mac website also reports that Healhbook will offer a hydration-tracking service – which would be of particular value to athletes – and a sleep-tracking feature, akin to what is already available from companies like Fitbit and Jawbone.
As 9to5mac notes, one uncertainty is from where the data will be sourced – although possibilities include the iPhone itself, third-party apps, third-party devices or a future wearable device from Apple (an iWatch, for instance).
The iPhone’s own technical capabilities would allow it to support various fitness-monitoring services, but not blood, respiratory and hydration rate data.
Indeed, it is feasible that Healthbook is being designed as a kind of repository for data form other apps – just as Passbook allows customers to store coupons and tickets generated by other ecommerce apps.
There is already a developing ecosystem for health-monitoring devices that are compatible with the iPhone and its iOS software and Apple sells some of these products through its online store.
9to5mac believes Healthbook is being lined up for release with iOS 8, although its release could be delayed or cancelled altogether at this stage.
In the meantime, Apple is also rumored to be working on a wearable device that includes health and fitness monitoring functionality, as well as a “sensor-laden smartwatch”, with Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, saying Apple has “big plans” in store for 2014.