With the release of iOS 8, Apple has made its first big foray into the health and fitness sector. The operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch now includes a set of system tools, known as HealthKit, that will allow developers to create apps that can track our activity levels, caloric intake, and overall fitness. Any app that uses these tools, can then share the data collected with the new Health app that comes preinstalled with iOS, creating a profile of our overall health over time while also helping us to set fitness goals, improve our workouts, and eat healthier. That data can even be shared directly with our doctors, keeping them abreast of changes in our health and activity levels too.
When iOS 8 was first released, a last-minute bug was discovered in HealthKit that prevented any apps that use the platform from working properly. Apple has since patched that bug, and numerous HealthKit-enabled apps are now available on the App Store. Here are ten of the best fitness apps that can be downloaded to your device now.
WebMD (Free) – The WebMD app is a bit like having your own personal physician right in your pocket. It can help diagnose health issues by examining symptoms, and recommend ways of treating illnesses as they arise. The app’s “first aid essentials” offers good advice for addressing injuries as they occur, and the built-in database of medicines provides a wealth of information on drugs, supplements, and vitamins as well. It will even provide insightful articles, tips, and facts on how to live a more healthy lifestyle, while helping to set goals to achieve the level of fitness you’re looking for. The “health target” option allows users to connect their iPhone to a variety of other devices that can measure activity levels, and set achievable goals as well. That data can be shared with the Health app for more detailed analysis, and progress tracking too.
MapMyRun ($2.99) – One of the more popular fitness apps in the App Store, even before HealthKit was introduced, is MapMyRun. This app tracks the user’s running pace, distance traveled, and calories burned. It will even use the iPhone’s built in GPS capabilities to display a map of the running route, including elevation gain and loss. Beyond just tracking running routes, MapMyRun can also keep a record of your nutrition and diet in an effort to create a weight loss plan too. It’ll even integrate with your social media outlets, allowing you to share progress with friends and family, or challenge others to beat your fastest run times. The latest update to MapMyRun includes HealthKit integration, allowing it to sync workout data with the Health app for tracking progress over time.
Motion X 24/7 ($0.99) – This app is sleep tracker that monitors a users sleep cycle in order to wake them at the optimal time. The designers of 24/7 say that it can help you sleep more efficiently, should result in more energy when your first roll out of bed in the morning. Using the iPhone’s motion sensors, 24/7 can analyze the quality of your sleep as well, and it will even record levels of snoring, which can be used to diagnose other sleep-related issues. All of that data is now fed to the Health app for longterm analysis and tracking.
Human (Free) – Human is a motion tracking app that encourages users to be active for at least 30 minutes per day. Using the iPhone’s built in motion co-processor, the app knows when you’re walking, running, cycling, or doing just about any other aerobic activity. It will not only tell you the distance you’ve traveled, it will also keep track of the number of calories burned based on your weight, and the speed and intensity of your workout. Daily progress is displayed on the Today screen in the notification center, with all other data saved to the Health app.
drchrono EHR (Free) – drchrono is a fully-certified Electronic Health Record (EHR), which means that users can literally store the entire file that their doctors keep on their health history – right on their iOS device. It features a host of functionality, including the ability to track allergies, fill prescriptions, store confidential documents, and even chat with physicians. HealthKit gives the app the ability to track and organize our health records over time, and share the information directly with our doctors as well.
FitNet Personal Fitness Workouts (Free) – This app wants to serve as your personal trainers, offering guided workouts in a variety of areas, including yoga, cardio, and strength training. Each workout is five minutes in length, and when complete, the user is given the option to continue on to the next workout, or take a three-minute cool down period. The iPhone’s built-in suite of sensors keeps track of motion and intensity, and all results are shared with the Health app for tracking progress over time. A seven-day planner helps users set short term goals, while also providing encouragement and advice for how to best proceed with new challenges.
HumanVitality (Free) – Health insurance provider Humana offers rewards to their customers for leading a health lifestyle and working out on a regular basis. This app allows users to track their activity levels, and share the data directly with the insurance company, earning more “vitality points” towards those rewards in the process. The app lets users challenge friends and co-workers, or even create a team, with everyone working together towards shared fitness goals. All data can now be saved in the Health app, and shared more readily with Humana as well.
FitPort (Free) – As good as the new Health app is, some people still find it a bit confusing to use. FitPort is a simple app that integrates with HealthKit to display your fitness information in a simpler, more easy to understand way. It has positioned itself as an alternate dashboard for health information for those who want their data organized differently. The app will also serves as a daily pedometer, keeping track of your steps, and the number of stairs climbed as well, and saving that data within HealthKit too.
Mayo Clinic (Free) – When Apple was first developing HealthKit, one of the organizations they reached out to was the Mayo Clinic. With a team of world class doctors, the Mayo Clinics are widely considered to be the finest health care facilities in the world. Doctors from the Clinic played a crucial role in shaping how HealthKit would work, and what health and fitness data it would track. Not long after the release of iOS 8, the exiting Mayo app was updated and rebranded to take advantage of the benefits of HealthKit. The app now allows Mayo patients to view their lab results in real time, communicate directly with their doctors, request and manage appointments, and more. Their records can also be transferred directly into the Health app, allowing them to be shared with physicians in other health care facilities as well.
Carrot Fit ($2.99) – This app is designed to help users lose weight by tracking progress over time. When first launched, the user creates a profile that includes their current, and target, weights, with changes manually entered on an incremental basis. The app will then graph the user’s progress, and chart their BMI on easy to read graphs designed to encourage weight loss. What sets Carrot Fit apart however, is that it integrates a Siri-like artificial intelligence that will offer encouragement when progress is made and goals are met. Slip up in the pursuit of those goals however, and the same AI will berate you for not working harder. With HealthKit integration, Carrot Fit transfers all of the data to the Health app, but the AI can still continue to make her complimentary – or snide – comments even without ever launching the app itself.
These are just a few of the HealthKit enabled apps that are already available on the App Store. Over time, I’m sure we’ll see even more sophisticated and impressive uses for these new features, helping us all to lead healthier lives, and achieve our personal fitness goals.