Apple gets serious about health
After years of rumours, speculation and wacky design ideas, Apple has finally announced the Apple Watch alongside the new iPhone 6 and iOS8 update. Through their latest offering one thing is clear – Apple has gotten very serious about health.
Described as an “intimate” and “singular” product, the Apple Watch features many features that have already been around for a while such as those offered by the rival Samsung Gear, including the ability to check emails and messages, as well as phone calls and of course telling the time. Amongst some other neat features like keyboard free communicating via siri or sketch gestures, one thing that really sets the Apple Watch apart is its focus on health.
Health and Fitness
Expectations for the “iWatch” have been high. The early development of the Misfit Shine was surrounded by talk of an Apple connection. Indeed when we spoke to the company at this year’s Gadget Show Live they did hint that future of fitness tracking may no longer involve stand alone devices. Further to this, members of the development team behind Nike’s largely successful Fuelband are said to have moved over to Apple to work on a projects surrounding its HealthKit platform following Nike’s decision to bow out of market. The combination of features Apple Watch boasts could very well be the fitness tracking market killer that has been anticipated.
- Activity tracking: The Apple Watch features all the technology featured in most of fitness trackers and then some. This includes an accelerometer to monitor movement and its intensity as well as utilising GPS and Wi-Fi data from a synced iPhone to track running speed and location. So far only high-end fitness watches such as the Garmin and Polar ranges have been able to provide users with this combined functionality.
- Heart rate monitor: For those familiar with current heart rate monitoring tech, such as Azumio’s Instant Hear Rate app or the Mio Alpha, will immediately recognise the potential in the rear sensors, perfectly placed to optically monitor pluses in blood flood beneath the skin. Again, this technology has been exclusive to the fitness watch segment or in the case of trackers such as the polar loop, only possible when synced to a chest strap.
- Fitness App: Here we begin to possible cues from the Fuelband team as the app uses dial like gauges or rings to provide a simple and easy-to-read graphic display of key metrics that include a ‘move’ ring for calories burned, an ‘exercise’ ring for brisk exercise and a ‘stand’ ring for each time you stand up, with reminders to help you stay active. As with the Fuelband and other apps, goals can be set and achievements won for a variety of milestones reached. This all syncs up with a new fitness app for the iPhone.
- Personal Trainer: The Apple Watch learns you over time to perfect how to guide you to be a fitter person.
iOS8 with built in health
The latest update to Apple’s mobile operating system finally shows off the potential of the HealthKit platform which Apple created for developers of health and fitness apps. Apple’s proprietary Health app makes it possible for multiple streams of data collected by various health and fitness apps to be collated into one place giving users a single dashboard to monitor their health metrics. Apple claims that the Health app will help all fitness apps to “work harder for you”. For example if one app measures calories burned whilst another records food intake, by combining these two data streams the user can then gain much better insight in how to better manage and achieve their ideal weight.
It is early days but so far the Apple Watch sounds very impressive. The hype surrounding the “iWatch” did get a little silly, dragging on so long that the hype itself gained backlash with doubters speculating that Apple’s watch would fail to offer anything new compared to the wearable tech currently available. However the company’s approach of consolidated health could revolutionise wearable fitness monitoring, and in the hands of this technology leader, that could be a very powerful thing.
The Apple Watch will be available in early 2015 at prices starting at $349 for the Sports Edition.
Images ©Apple Inc.