When news came out that Apple was working on a dedicated Health dashboard app, which would offer a way to take healthcare monitoring mobile, I was extremely excited. I had been recently diagnosed with traumatic arthritis in my knees and I needed a better all-in-one system to track my steps, weight, and BMI. None of the other apps on the market at the time seemed to do any one of those three especially well. Apple’s Health app has since become my go-to app for everything I wanted to log and more. It’s not perfect, but it’s a built-in dashboard with tie-ins to plenty of iOS apps.
Within a few weeks of using Health, I soon realized I wanted a better way to automate inputting data into the system. I eventually came to a methodology that worked great for me and decided it was time to share three of the different ways you can automate quickly logging your weight into the Health app.
Before I decided to make the plunge into purchasing a smart scale, I knew I wanted to start taking advantage of automating my weight tracking immediately. Many of the other apps that existed out there made the steps to get in and actually log weight just too cumbersome and complicated for what I really needed. This is where Workflow delivered for me.
Workflow (currently $2.99), released a little over a year ago, is an Automator-like tool for iOS. You’re are able to combine different actions together to create something akin to small apps, a workflow. When Workflow was first released, I knew I would be able to use this to log my weight without having to rely on an expensive smart scale. If you’d like to get started using the workflow I created, open this link on your iPhone after installing Workflow.
For this particular workflow, I only needed two actions: ‘Ask for Input’ and ‘Log Health Sample’. Once they were added in, I then changed the workflow’s settings so that it was set to a ‘Today Widget‘ and ‘Apple Watch‘ workflow. From there, every morning I would wake up, walk to my basic bathroom scale (an older version of the Sunbeam Easy Read Dial scale), and then log my weight directly from Notification Center or my Apple Watch.
Want a less robust but free automation solution? A bit of a hidden feature of Siri in iOS 9 is the ability to be reminded of whatever is currently in context in any given supported app. For example, I could be looking at an iMessage thread, activate Siri, and say “Remind me about this in 15 minutes.” It would then create the reminder for me as expected, but it also includes a direct link back to that Messages thread.
This becomes especially useful for remembering to actually log your weight. The biggest problem I had at the start of my whole weight-logging experiment was that I frequently forgot to log it every morning. The more data you log, the more interesting trends will be. To mitigate this, I opened the weight section under the Health app and told Siri “Remind me of this every day at 8:30 AM”. Now when the reminder comes in the morning, I can just launch directly into the Health app from the reminder and input my weight in the correct section.
For those that have configured weight-logging using the Workflow app from above, using Siri here is also a great way to bring it one step closer to full automation since you can build them both together.
After nearly a year of logging my weight using a mix of these automation methods, I eventually decided it was time to upgrade this process and get a smart scale. I wanted to get a more precise read-out of my weight changes than just relying on a basic scale.
Apple has listed the Withings Smart Body Analyzer under its health accessories for the a long time, and with good reason too. Although our primary focus is on weight logging, the Withings scale includes a cornucopia of other features including air quality monitoring and heart rate measurements. The most attractive part of this scale for me was the fact that it also supported logging multiple family members, up to eight different users. It’s a great way to get the whole family more aware of their health in general. Another popular alternative smart scale is the Fitbit Aria which has the advantage of integrating directly into the Fitbit ecosystem, while the Withings solution speaks to Apple’s Health app using HealthKit.
Using the power of Workflow, Siri, and a smart scale, it becomes extremely easy to start recording health data and monitoring what it means for your well-being. With all these methods mixed together, I am now logging three major health points. With the smart scale I log my weight and BMI, and with Siri and Workflow, I am logging my caffeine and water intake as well.
How are you using the Health app in your day-to-day life? What tools and accessories are you using to make logging the data more useful? I’m always looking for new ideas, so let us know in the comments below!
Workflow is available for $2.99 in the App Store and is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch (Health is only available on the iPod touch and iPhone). The Withings Smart Body Analyzer is available now for $99.99 in black or $149.99 in white, and the Fitbit Aria is available for $119. For those looking for just a basic (non-smart) scale take a look at the Etekcity Digital Body Weight Bathroom scale ($18.48), the BalanceFrom High Accuracy Premium Digital Bathroom Scale ($18.95), or the EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale ($24.95).