Fitness tracking has quickly become the next major mobile frontier, and Apple reportedly has huge plans to enter the market in 2014. According to sources briefed on Apple’s plans, health and fitness tracking will be a huge part of iOS 8, codenamed ‘Okemo,’ when the software is introduced this year, which will be the pre-cursor to the company’s iWatch. Sources say the wearable device is well into development, and offers a number of big features, with fitness monitoring and tracking among its main focus.
9to5Mac claims iOS 8 will include an app called “Healthbook,” which will offer similar features to other fitness wearables, including tracking steps taken, calories burned, etc. It’ll even help users set up detailed weight loss plans; similar functionality is already offered by Nike and Fitbit. But the capabilities of Healthbook will actually go deeper than any current mainstream product has before. Healthbook will supposedly help users monitor vital signs, such as blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and possibly even other blood-related data points.
Additionally, Apple’s new app may even help users keep track of their medications, integrating with Reminders to tell folks when to take their pills and other medications. A report from The New York Times on Friday said a few of Apple’s executives met with FDA officials to discuss health applications, and it’s possible the talks focused on the Cupertino company’s iWatch. Details about the meeting haven’t yet been made public, however.
Like current wearables, Apple’s iWatch will supposedly be heavily reliant on the iPhone, which itself is currently capable of tracking motion with its M7 chip. The iWatch will likely come with a series of built-in sensors to track all the aforementioned data, which can then be neatly displayed in iOS 8’s Healthbook app. 9to5Mac describes Healthbook’s design as Passbook-esque, with a series of cards pertinent to certain vital signs; the app’s icon will apparently look similar to Passbook’s as well, though it’ll be ornamented with graphics related to the medical field.
Right now it’s unclear if the iWatch will ship this year, and 9to5Mac warns that all of iOS 8’s health tracking capabilities might not even make it into the final product. It’ll be a matter of Apple creating a worthy experience in time for a release. But the company has slowly been putting the pieces in place, hiring several experts in the health, medical and fitness fields, with many expecting an iWatch as the endgame. Cook himself said big things were expected in 2014, and even admitted that the “whole sensor field is going to explode,” as pointed out by 9to5Mac.
Not many other iOS 8 details are known, though the design will supposedly match iOS 7’s, sources said. For that matter, it’s unclear how much functionality the iWatch will offer outside of fitness tracking. According to sources, mapping will be a big focal point, and if that’s the case, one would imagine it’ll also support notifications like other existing smartwatches. If iOS 8 does put emphasis on fitness tracking, it sounds like the only possible way to maximize its potential is to use an iWatch, which will feature all the necessary sensors to track everything from heart rate to hydration levels.
Many are expecting 2014 to be a big year for Apple, with bigger iPhones, a revamped Apple TV and an iWatch. If 9to5Mac’s sources are correct, Apple isn’t simply content to make the iWatch a simple notification tool, but a full-blown medical device. Game on.
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