Apple has made significant enhancements to its upcoming Health application for iOS 8 in the latest beta of the new iPhone operating system. Most notably, the Health application can now utilize the iPhone’s own M7 motion tracking hardware for data sourcing.

The Health app’s Steps counter tab can now report steps without connecting to any third party applications or hardware devices. Because this feature likely uses the M7 processor, an iPhone 5s is required to get the steps data directly from the device…

Users will find that the M7 is able to pre-populate the Health app with a full week of data. We’ve tested the steps counting after clearing the data to 0 steps and the tracking functionality appears to work well and accurately. The Health app allows users to sort data by Day, Week, Month, and Year, and users are able to remove individual sets of Steps tracking from the app. Sharing steps data with other apps from the App Store is also supported.

Adding on-device tracking support to the Health app is a significant addition from Apple as iPhone 5s (and future iPhone) customers will no longer even need to integrate any App Store apps or hardware devices to begin using the software. Steps is one of the more mainstream categories of fitness data, so the ability for the iPhone to provide that data out of the box is a great way to teach people about the Health fitness tracking software.

In addition to adding M7 hardware support, Apple has added caffeine to the lengthy list of nutritional categories that can be tracked by Health. There are several apps on the App Store, including one from Jawbone called Up Coffee, that can track and analyze Caffeine intake. Those developers will likely move quickly to integrate their apps with the iOS 8 Health database.

Health’s Medical ID section, which is an emergency card feature, has been slightly tweaked with a red navigational bar that is easier to see.

Health was introduced as a new iOS 8 application alongside the HealthKit developer API at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference. Besides integrating deeply with iOS 8, App Store apps, and third party hardware accessories, the software is expected to be a key component of Apple’s upcoming fitness-tracking smart watch. Other improvements found in iOS 8 beta 3 include enhanced iCloud Drive support, user-interface tweaks to the Photos and FaceTime apps, WiFi calling on T-Mobile, and improvements to the QuickType keyboard.

Update: We’ve discovered that the same M7 motion tracking technology is used to provide on-device calculations of distance travelled. This can be seen in the pair of screenshots above.

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22 Responses to “Apple bolsters iOS 8 Health app with on-device steps, distance tracking & caffeine monitoring”

  1. Reblogged this on Taste of Apple and commented:
    I’m super excited about health and health kit. The more that these apps can do, the more they will help people. I love that health is a focus of iOS 8 and I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve it into a full on health platform in the coming years.

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  2. Hmm.. Steps not showing up for me on my 5S. I shouldn’t need to do anything special for it to show up, right?

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  3. Reblogged this on @stevebanfield and commented:
    Caffeine tracking? Dear Lord I wouldn’t even want to know how much of that I consume each day.

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  4. Best of all there’s a daily height tracking component to the Health app… because you know, one’s height changes ..on …a ..dail… wait? Wut? Daily height tracking?

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  5. Steps are an absolutely useless metric, even Apple does stupid things though, sadly. Distance traveled on foot is nice, but steps are meaningless, and tell you nothing. Moreover calorie expenditure estimates are also pointless as they are highly inaccurate. Calories burned through activities are extremely dependent on the individual, but also the fitness level of the particular individual (i.e. a person becomes more physically fit, and they burn fewer calories, especially from the same or similar activities, as their body is becoming more efficient).

    Not only that, but obsession with calorie tracking and counting is the opposite direction humans should be taking when it comes to weight management, as eating healthier is far more important than exercise or how much one consumes. It’s easily 80% or higher, what you consume, as opposed to how much you consume, or how much you burn through exercise. Humans don’t need to count calories, it’s not in nature’s design. Humans need to eat what they were designed to eat, and not worry about anything but eating until full.

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    • That’s not quite true – there are studies showing that how the body processes food is influenced by exercise, and exercise has health benefits other than losing weight. So if you’re obese, changing your diet is clearly the first step, but everyone should exercise … and steps per day is a good way of setting a target which is easy to achieve.

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      • Exercise is good for a lot, but studies have shown it isn’t at all good for weight loss. Nothing wrong with exercise, but exercising to lose weight or counting calories to lose weight are absolutely the wrong things to do.

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    • I think “absolutely useless” is a bit extreme. I think a general step count gives an indication of how active you were on a particular day as compared to other days. Having a goal of so many steps per day is a great way to start to become more active.

      I agree that we need to eat better foods, but counting calories can be a stepping stone to the type of lifestyle that you describe. For a lot of people, including myself, who have developed terrible eating habits, counting calories can be an eye opener on how “bad” somethings are for you.

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    • Tim Cleary says:

      Yes, but the idea is getting someone used to the idea that they should be focused on their health. Steps is easy, try for 10,000 a day. The phone tracks and you don’t have to do anything more. Tracking calories requires someone to actually input what they eat. They need to be willing and ready to make that commitment to their health. And to actually get that person to eat healthy and not just worry about the numbers, takes an even greater commitment.

      I agree that diet is the most important thing in regards to health, but everyone has to start somewhere and having someone move a little more is as good a place as any. Once a person makes that leap of faith, they will start to see changes…even if it’s just through steps. One positive moment will give way to another and to another, and pretty soon that individual will be making all sorts of changes to their diet and lifestyle. Not everyone can just wake up and change every part of their life all at once, but almost anyone can change one thing at a time.

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  6. Ha, why the big deal? There are apps already in the App Store that can count steps and other physical activities.

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    • danbridgland says:

      Integration! I have several apps that count my steps. But I don’t use any of them, the UX is so varied and often poor. Healthbook provides a simple glance and go look at the data my phone is already collecting. No need for background apps!

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      • Yes, I am aware. I use the Digit App with my iPhone to monitor an array of physical activities including cycling, spinning, walking, etc. What I find interesting is it seems Apple walks on water around here. Every time Apple develops something new to Apple its ‘hail to the King’ again. Don’t get me wrong I am not anti Apple. But, many of the concepts that go into Apple apps originated from other developers many of which have apps in the App Store. It pisses me off the people who came up with the original idea receives no credit. All I read is chalk another one up for Apple.

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  7. reat post keep up the good work.Thanks for sharing. I love apple iphone 5s !

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  8. vavici says:

    I just got the iPhone 6 plus and have been comparing step data from the iphone & my Fitbit. When going for a walk or run the phone measures close, but seems to be perhaps 1-3% less. Now when tracking around the house during the rest of the day the iphone seems to track way less than the Fitbit. Over a 10,000 step day I will often see the iphone track about 2000 steps less than the Fitbit. Any ideas on what is happening or how the problem can be fixed. I usually carry the phone in a holster.

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