Apple has started collecting some of the research data that users submit through apps using the company’s ResearchKit platform for the first time.
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Users have noticed that at least two apps using the platform have been updated to note Apple as a secondary researcher, meaning it can now also collect data users submit through the app. Previously Apple explicitly said it wouldn’t collect data from users through the platform, as is usually the company’s stance with all user data, but the company confirmed the change for ResearchKit with a brief explanation to Mashable.
“We’ve learned a lot about the powerful role iPhone and Apple Watch can play in medical research and we know there’s even more we can do,” an Apple spokesperson told Mashable. “For certain ResearchKit studies, Apple will be listed as a researcher, receiving data from participants who consent to share their data, so we can participate with the larger research community in exploring how our technology could improve the way people manage their health.”
The first two apps Apple is collecting data from include the Mole Mapper Melanoma Study app and the Parkinson mPower study app. Users will have a choice whether or not to allow Apple to collect data, however, as there will now be two separate permissions that users must grant the app, one for the main researcher and another for Apple.
So Apple isn’t saying exactly what it’s doing with the data, but you can now expect that the information you submit to studies in apps using ResearchKit will also be shared directly with Apple for use in its own research (if you opt in). And as you’d expect, Apple is saying it will make sure all of the data is stored securely on its servers during the process.
Earlier this month Apple unveiled its new CareKit framework, an open-source framework that provides another element to its work with HealthKit and ResearchKit by offering a platform for patient-facing data that can be shared with physicians and family.