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Report: Apple’s Next Big iOS Update Could Help Track Your Weight and Fitness

Jason O. Gilbert
Technology Editor
March 17, 2014

Siri, meet Slimfast. 

According to a report from the redoubtable Apple blog 9to5Mac, Apple is working on a new app called Healthbook that will bring fitness and health tracking capabilities to the forefront in future versions of its iPhone and iPad. The app is expected to debut later this year. 

9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman (who has reliably predicted future products and features from Apple before they were announced in the past) provided a mocked-up screenshot of the Healthbook app in his report, based on descriptions by those “working directly on the initiative’s development.” You can see all the different areas of fitness and health that Healthbook would allow you to track in Gurman’s mockup below. More mockups are available at 9to5Mac.

The Healthbook app is rumored to be debuting with iOS 8, the next large update to Apple’s iOS mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Apple is expected to unveil iOS 8 in June, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. 

The Healthbook app has a direct precedent in iOS. Just as Apple’s Passbook app is a central location for your plane tickets, coupons, gift certificates, and other passes, so too would the rumored Healthbook app be a central location for your health and fitness info. But what is perhaps more intriguing than the existence of a Healthbook is how, exactly, one would log this information into the app. 

For certain areas, the iPhone’s new M7 chip will suffice. Apple introduced the M7 with its iPhone 5s last year; it’s a motion-detecting processor, embedded inside the device, that can track things like the number of steps you take during the day or your speed as you run. The M7 is now inside the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini, and could easily count your steps in the Activity header.

But for other categories depicted in the mock-up, the info-gathering process is a little murkier. “Respiratory Rate” and “Oxygen Saturation,” for example, would require separate devices, as would both “Blood Sugar” and “Blood Pressure.” And while third-party companies sell devices that can connect to your iPhone to track this information, Apple does not yet do so. 

So: Is Apple also working on a device (or devices) that could perform some of these tasks? If not, it’s likely that Healthbook will be able to sync with many existing third-party devices. More tantalizingly, however, Apple has long been rumored to be working on a so-called iWatch, an Internet-connected wristwatch-like device that could, among other things, track your movement throughout the day and measure your vital signs.

Designer Martin Hajek imagines an iWatch in these concept renderings. 

The apparent imminent debut of Healthbook could indicate that the iWatch is near, too. And with rival Samsung having already released the second version of its own Galaxy Gear smartwatch, there is some pressure on Apple to join the race. 

iWatch or not, however, Apple does appear to be inching toward the fitness coaching movement. At this rate, Siri might be barking at you to do your squats by the end of the year.

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