Apple’s iOS 8 Beta Release Introduces New Health Features



Apple unveiled iOS 8 at its World Wide Developers Conference in June this year, where it announced that the new version would see a general release sometime this fall. Since then, app developers have been given early access to the platform so they can begin updating their apps to take advantage of the new features that iOS 8 will bring. This week, Apple released an update to the iOS 8 developer platform and digital health programmers immediately noted that the version was packed with new previously undisclosed health features.

The biggest change came within the Health app itself. The app has been updated with a spirometry section that will allow developers to store and share pulmonary function data, like how much air a person inhales or exhales, which would be captured from a connected spirometer. Spirometry tests are often used to evaluate lung function in people with asthma or COPD, both of which have a fairly active digital health presence working on initiatives to improve chronic disease management. 

Medical ID, an iOS feature that lets users store basic medical information such as problems, allergies and medications, has been updated so that it is now accessible from the lock screen without the need for a pass code. This will provide emergency personnel a way of accessing basic medical information about a patient in the event that they cannot speak for themselves. This functionality was referenced during the WWDC demonstration, but had not yet made its way into the actual iOS release.

Other changes include a new API that will let developers store workout information within the Health app and a new health panel within the settings area. Apple also gave some of the icons within the Health app a refresh, including the Body Data icon and the Data Exporting icon.

Apple was originally rumored to be launching iOS 8 in the late fall, but newer rumors have suggested that the company will unveil the iPhone 6 during a media event on September 9 which implies that both the new phones and the iOS release may come a bit sooner than originally predicted.

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