Apple has announced important new app updates at its June 2021 WWDC event, and these provide interesting new health-oriented capabilities as Apple continues to encourage broader use of its Health and Fitness apps.
Most notably, the Health app will now have a Sharing feature that will allow patients to send the health data the app has collected to their doctors or family members, as well as get notifications from people they are sharing with. This can include data like test results and COVID-19 immunization records, which means the Health app may now support more vaccine pass-related activities.
The feature appears to be a great way to allow for ongoing monitoring of health issues and goal tracking — and Apple’s full encryption ensures everything stays HIPAA compliant. The company made it clear that it will be unable to see any health data shared this way. If you do end up sharing test information with loved ones or your doctor, the app will also be able to show expanded lab results, making sharing more useful from a technical standpoint. Combined with the ability to share health trends, Apple is making the Health app a more attractive option for medical professionals and caregivers.
The Health app is also getting more friendly for those aging in place, with a new Walking Steadiness feature that monitors gait and can bring up alerts when it looks like someone is in danger of falling, and can track other health issues over time with the Trends mode. This may be especially helpful for elderly users in more independent living situations. Combined with watchOS 8, the app can also monitor long-term breathing patterns and watch for any warning signs about breathing difficulty.
Breathing is a common theme for this year’s WWDC, as the Fitness app is also getting updates to add tai chai and Pilates, while the new Mindfulness app encourages breathing techniques for relaxation.
Public release of watchOS 8 to support many of these health upgrades is expected sometime in fall 2021, although features like Sharing will be available when iOS 15 launches. We’ll fill you in with all the details as the developer’s conference continues with important updates to Apple’s software!
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