iOS 13 brings new features to Apple Health App

Tripti Rai June 17, 2020
iOS 13 brings new features to Apple Health App

The first-ever we heard about Apple’s Health was back in 2014 when it debuted as a feature of iOS 8. Five years since its launch, the Health app has been in the focus for receiving updates and redesigns every once in a while. 

Although, the primary focus and purpose of the app have not changed a bit, as it still acts as an aggregation tool for health-related data from several sources such as Apple Watch, and other third-party apps and devices. However, the act of frequently making the changes in the app explicitly reveals the dissatisfaction of Apple towards the app’s performance in goal fulfillment.

iOS 13’s Health app is the definition of the intuitive, user-friendly, engaging app. Apple has outdone themselves this time, by getting rid of the complications and designing an inviting and streamlined interface. 

The recent update comes loaded with exciting and compelling features complimenting hearing health and cycle-tracking. Now, this is inviting enough to surmise that Apple’s vision for Health app is perpetually changing for the better. We have a feeling that this current rebranding of the Health app is a long-term improvement and is going to stand its ground. 

Changes In The Design

Apple voluntarily but disheartened removed the Health app from the App Store due to numerous issues with its performance and interface. Each data point was viewed using different screens and graphs, laid out across separate Dashboard, Health Data, Sources tabs, which were further broken down by day, week, Month, and Year.

Well, it certainly was as overwhelming as it sounds and made navigation difficult at times. It especially felt like overkill for HealthKit-integrated sources were very numbered before the advent of Apple watch.

The Health app finally came up with its first revamped design in iOS 10, after frequentative changes. Health Data was made the primary tab and added with four featured sections in the form of a grid. You could also see the video dedicated by Apple to each of the featured banners named Activity, Mindfulness, Nutrition, and Sleep at the back. 

Right below these banners, you would get key options including Body measurements, Health records, Reproductive Health. Additionally, the Dashboard screen was rebranded as ‘Today’, and given a new look for displayed data. There were a few undetectable changed made to Sources and Medical ID tabs.

iOS 13 Health app update is the second redesign and the most intriguing one as well. Functions have been simplified and streamlined to great extents, features like favorite data points work as they should have in the past. The new initiative of App Store-style articles makes education a more crucial function of Health, which should have been a thing in the past. To give the app a modern and elevated touch, Apple employed icon and typography tweaks. 

There are two navigation tabs now, as opposed to the previous versions which made things complicated. The two tabs are Summary and Browse: 

Summary Tab

The Summary screen, one of the features of iOS13’s Health app takes us back to the last year’s changes in Reading Now in Apple Books. In this feature, Apple combined a variety of content sections like the books you’re currently reading, Want to Read collection, For You recommendations, and so on.

While previous versions of Health were more distorted, with the Summary screen Apple keeps all the data you need in one place.

Favorites are placed at the top of the Summary screen and are finally receiving importance. Each of the favorited data types displays the latest data entered, and you are able to tap through to see the full page for that type including graphs, educational info. 

To get a hold of all the data types and favorite them from one place, all you have to do is tap on the Edit button, located in the top-right corner of the Favourite section. 

In the original Health app, data on the Dashboard worked as Favorites in the new update, but the manner in which that data was visualized was not a very user-friendly approach. The current favorites feature was brought forth in the iOS 10 update. However, it certainly lacked the function which enabled us to view all favorite data in one place.

The Health Data screen demanded us to tap into each data type, where we could see favorite selections placed at the top of their categories, separated from each other. With the iOS 13’s Health app update and the addition of the Favourites section, all your desired and selected data points are kept together, showing data from today to even a month-old one.

The Highlights section placed right below the Favorites section, shows graphs and charts that revealing relevant comparisons of recently added health data. For instance, it may show data related to the number of stair flights you climbed last week in comparison to the number of a week before that or might show the average distance walked by you at certain points during the course of the day. However, it only displays a few random snippets of such information and you have to go to All Highlights to access full data.

Browse Tab

Coming to the other tab Browse, it is directed by a search bar, however mostly consists of the various data categories you can explore, inclusive of a special section for Health Records. Moreover, if you need to get access to the data you didn’t label as a favorite, you can access it in the Browse tab.

All the other data which is not accessible in Summary or the Browse tab is found behind your profile, in top-right of each main view which is similar to the App Store and TV apps. From here you can view your Health Profile, Medical ID, HealthKit apps, and so on. Browse enables you to easily see and manage certain permissions that each app has.

New Health features in iOS 13 include two new additions― Cycle Tracking and Hearing Health. Let’s discuss them in detail.

What is the new Cycle Tracking feature?

Apple has also stepped into the game of women health tracking application development by featuring cycle tracking into the iOS 13 health app update. With this latest feature, the app helps in tracking and logging various data points on PMS including, flow level, basal body temperature, spotting, symptoms, and cramps.

When you initially use this Health app feature, the app asks you some basic information related to your PMS cycle. With this as the base information and reference point, the app predicts certain assumptions like when periods start, how long they may last, what kind of flow will be, etc.

Health elaborates its visual system, in which the red dot on its cycle chart denotes the day you entered your period, and the purple dot represents any symptoms entered by you or any event too. The lighter versions red dots show predictions about flow, and last but not least, blue shading in the Health app shows your fertile window. 

This feature of iOS 13’s Health app also initiates to send fertility notifications alerts, when it thinks the fertile window is near. It is such a utilitarian feature. Moreover, these notifications are scheduled to be sent at 8 PM on the nights.

Health app’s cycle tracking offers you seven different categories to log about― Flow, Symptoms, Ovulation Test Result, Sexual Activity, Basal Body Temperature, Spotting, and Cervical Mucus Quality. All you need to do is select any category and you will be navigated to a card-like interface in which each category can be swiped through for logging data. 

This card-swiping navigation feature is rather new among first-party iOS apps. What’s more, it is available on both the iPhone and Apple Watch.

What does the Hearing Health feature do?

Similar to the cycle tracking feature, Hearing Health, a feature of iOS 13’s Health app is an amazing initiative in the wellness tracking area in the Health app. It not only circumscribes new data type that apps are able to record but is a suite of incredible features which utilize the existing hardware. This is something intriguing and innovative which was never heard of before.

With the help of hearing health feature, the Health app can trail different data points such as Headphone Audio Levels, Audiogram, Environmental Sound Levels, and also Noise Notifications. Now, three out of the four data points have data that can be collected without any assistance from any third-party apps, by utilizing only the Apple hardware and its Health app.

The Headphone Audio level function is used to measure the A-weighted decibels of headphone audio. This is an automated process, where the user is not required to perform any action or give a command for the same. However, you can only see its full potential with Apple iPods and headphones and also of Beats’.

If you ever thought to measure environmental sound levels was impossible then, you would be so impressed with Apple. Hearing Health at intervals throughout the day, generally, every 30 minutes when in use, will use your Watch to quickly sample the current noise level of the environment it is placed in. It will save that data in the Health app. 

Apple at WWDC 2019 first declared that the Watch will never record or save any audio from the samplings of environmental noise detection feature. Apple has also developed a full-on companion app for Apple watch― Noise app. The app uses Apple Watch’s audio sampling and sends a notification whenever it surmises noise levels to be high enough to adversely affect your hearing health. These notifications are recorded in the Health app itself under the Noise Notifications tab.

With such amazing iOS 13 features popping every now and then, people are getting more restless to finally behold this update. After witnessing these initiatives taken by Apple, it is very clear that the vision of better Healthcare is in focus of Apple. It is continuously striving to create more useful, innovative, and effective features to promote personalization and help the users in their everyday life.

Tripti Rai
Content Manager
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