Early last week Apple started releasing some of the features that it plans to pack into the company’s latest iOS update. Features range from things the silicon giant has been lagging behind on, like third party keyboards and predictive typing, to relatively untouched features, like Health.
Apple Health: Tracking Calories, Steps, and More
iOS 8’s most interesting feature, by far, is the packaged health and fitness program named, imaginatively enough, Health. While the name leaves something to be desired, at least it’s not iHealth.
Apple’s latest app promises to do a wide variety of things, ranging from footstep tracking, calories burned, hours slept, and even a medical ID card that can be used to identify any allergies you have or medications that you’re taking for emergency crews, just in case you get in an accident.
While these may sound like some relatively simple features, all things considered, Apple doesn’t plan to stop there. HealthKit is a developer’s tool that allows access to the statistics that Health tracks, possibly even communicating them to your doctor, your insurance company, and perhaps even your employer. Since the beginning of the month, Apple has been in talks with healthcare providers across the nation, including UnitedHealth and Humana, as well as the US Food and Drug Administration to discuss ‘mobile medical applications.’
It seems that Apple has plans to be the first to make and capitalize on an all in one healthcare app, something that will track even more invasive statistics, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, calorie intake, and other diagnostics probably aimed at selling you the best diet pills for your situation. There’s even the possibility that your Apple device could connect wirelessly to things like Pacemakers and insulin pumps, so this is, undoubtedly, one of the most interesting developments in the healthcare industry this year.
It’s Also One of the Most Bloody Terrifying
Between the recent and ongoing Facebook scandals as well as the overbearing invasiveness of the NSA, I would have hoped that we’d learned by now that it’s generally not a good idea to entrust large, faceless organizations with your personal data, especially when you have nothing to gain by it, and they only see you as a product or a statistic.
Not only that, but it doesn’t seem like Apple is bringing truly beneficial to us as consumers. There are dozens and dozens of apps that already do what Health will allegedly do, so there’s no real reason for Apple to step in there, and no reason the other features Apple is planning can’t be handled by smaller, more trustworthy developers.
So not only do we not really gain anything by having Health, but because it’s going to be included in iOS 8, there’s no real way to turn it off. Even if you do supposedly disable the app’s features, there’s no reason to believe that it’s actually stopped tracking you. Remember how Facebook came out and said that it wasn’t tracking it’s users, and then it turned out it was? Or how about anything that the NSA has done or said, ever?
Beyond that, there’s a whole slew of security concerns to deal with. In a day and age when large companies deal with cyber attacks on a regular basis, it’s only a matter of time before someone cracks whatever security protocols that Apple puts in place. This time, though, instead of it being 77 million credit card accounts, it could very well be 77 million insurance policies, complete with all the relevant medical information.
All in all, not only does there not really seem to be any benefit to having an all in one medical app, but there are simply too many things that could go wrong to justify such a thing. At this point, I’m seriously considering shifting to other mobile devices.