Why Apple Is Moving Your Health Information to the iPad [wafact]

It didn’t have the same pizazz as the VR headset, or as much interest as the anticipated iPhone updates, but there was another announcement at Apple’s WWDC event this year that demonstrated the company’s deepening reach into the wellness market: the Health app coming to the iPad this fall. 

Apple has been subtly building up a health-tracking empire for the Apple Watch and iPhone — most recently, it added features aimed at vision and mental health. But for Deidre Caldbeck, director of product marketing for Apple Watch and Health, the Health app’s arrival on a larger screen represents how health information is becoming more user-friendly, and what the company is reaching toward in terms of future health and fitness apps. 

“We think this is gonna give you new ways to see your health and fitness data,” Caldbeck told CNET. “And maybe more importantly, open up new opportunities for developers to create health and fitness experiences with iPad apps.” 

Since it came out in 2014, the Health app has been a treasure trove of information collected from the iPhone itself, as well as the Apple Watch and third-party apps that can sync to the iPhone app, thanks to HealthKit, Apple’s framework for developers. Metrics like how well you’re sleeping, how steady you walk, your heart rate and more are all available on the little heart icon on your phone. 

But you may be wondering what moving the same app to another, bigger device will do. In addition to opening the door further for app developers to create apps specific to the iPad and a larger screen, the iPad Health app reflects a growing interest in wellness, how much space it takes up in our lives and on our screens, and how increasingly eager we are to share our health bulletins with other people.

Here’s what your health information may look like on the iPad, and what a larger screen could mean for app developers.

health app on apple ipad

What the Health app will look like on iPad.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Bigger display and new app opportunities

The Health app on iPad will have a split-screen view, which means you’ll be able to toggle between your health information and another app or page — something that Caldbeck says may be particularly helpful to people who use the sharing features in the Health app, like caregivers of other adults or patients at doctor’s appointments. 

Apple is also hoping that the iPad-only accessories, like the Keyboard and Pencil, will stir some creative ideas in developers on how to create new health and fitness apps through HealthKit. Already, there are “tens of thousands” of apps on the app store that use the HealthKit API, Caldbeck said. But this new format for health information may bring more developers and apps on board, in addition to apps that will be carried over to the iPad.

Read more: Apple Unveils iPadOS 17 at WWDC 2023

Rise, a sleep-tracking app, is one app moving to the iPad — it was given a special callout during WWDC this year. According to Jeff Kahn, Rise’s co-founder and CEO, the beauty of HealthKit in general is that it makes the world of health tracking a little more seamless for consumers who don’t necessarily want to wear a watch or buy an extra device: they just want the health information from their chosen apps. 

“They don’t want hardware, so the fact that HealthKit exists allows us to pull in all the data on the background,” Kahn explained. He added that having a more centralized framework benefits developers, and it’s an advantage Apple initially had over the different Android integrations, though it’s “getting better.”

Using the iPad for sleep and mental health

Kahn said that it “makes sense” Apple is moving to the iPad as the next step in its health feature expansion, given the health-tracking mission Apple has been on. But it also blends two growing truths in Kahn’s eyes: People are trying to cut down on phone time before bed to improve their sleep and health, and many people may be using their iPad to watch Netflix or wind down before bed instead of their phone. 

“There’s a lot of people that either a) don’t bring their phones in their room or b) maybe they do, but that iPad is that bedside entertainment device,” Kahn said.

Read more: Apple Research App: How to Join an Apple Health Study

The iPad may also be in a better position to deliver other wellness features Apple has announced for iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, this year’s iPhone software update and its iPad counterpart, including mood and mental health logging and screen distance, which uses the TrueDepth FaceTime camera to encourage people to move their faces back from the screen. 

It’s also possible that a shift toward the iPad-as-approachable-wellness-device may be one way Apple could close the gap it has with other companies that give sleep insight, like Oura, which offers more detailed sleep metrics than the Apple Watch. Apple could maintain its simplified approach to health information while pulling in more detailed tracking features (for people that want them) through its third-party partnerships.

The Rise app on iPad

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

The future of the Health app 

In terms of data-sharing notifications, the experience should be similar on iPad as it is on your iPhone, according to Caldbeck. 

“After you unlock your iPad and open the Health app for the first time, you will actually be prompted to choose if you want to sync your health data to that device,” she said, adding that everything is still encrypted except medical identification information, and that you’ll receive an alert on your iPhone the first time the Health app syncs.

As Apple continues to ride the wellness wave with new features for Apple Watch and narrow in on specific points within the extremely broad topic that is “health,” we can expect the Health app to keep expanding as well — whether this means a new fitness app for the iPad, an improved way to measure sleep through more app integrations or a completely new metric in Health becoming available, in general.

“The goal has really not changed since 2014,” Caldbeck said. “It’s really to provide you with insights that can hopefully break down barriers between you and your health information.” 

Read more: Fitness Trackers Are Getting More Personal, Powerful

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