“It is a Huge Deal” Apple discusses life-changing new well being options in your iPhone
Apple has released a number of new features as part of its Health app
Apple makes no secret of the fact that its iPhone is supposed to be much more than just a way to surf the Internet, send text messages and make one or the other voice call. One of the biggest new frontiers to this device that millions of us have under our belt is health. As part of iOS 15, which launched globally last month, Apple rolled out a number of features including ways to share your health data with family, track trends in your general wellbeing, and even see how stable you are on your feet are called walking steady.
Those updates are all on the Health app now, but it is walking steadiness that could prove to be the most life changing. While Apple has been offering “Fall Detection” on its Apple Watch smartwatches for some time – to warn loved ones if you take a fall and do not immediately move to get up – Apple wants to go one step further and try to stop the fall the first place.
Walking Steadity is now able to monitor your movement over time and alert you to any worrying changes.
“Research says that about one in five falls leads to something pretty serious, it’s a big deal,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, told Express.co.uk in a recent chat. “Walking steadiness is our chance to take things further by saying that it’s not just about detection, but also about proactively identifying when you are at greater risk.
“It is equally important to then give you some measures to improve your strength and balance in order to reduce the risk. We use our Fitness + Trainer to present these clinically validated exercises.
“With the iPhone in our pocket, we have so much information. I think walking steadiness could open so many doors. We’re excited and I think it has the potential to be really profound, especially in old age. “
Apple’s walking steadiness features send warnings to the screen
Walking Steadity is able to monitor your movement over time
The technology works thanks to sensors in the iPhone that record important mobility indicators such as walking speed, stride length, double support time and walking asymmetry. These are then all used to determine your walking stability and classification. If there is any concern that you might fall, a warning will appear on the display.
Despite the advantages, this option is not enabled by default, so iPhone owners have to enable it manually in the Health app. Since some people never realize that their walking and mobility have changed, it feels like a missed opportunity for Apple to alert people to a problem they didn’t know they were suffering from.
Of course, Apple can’t just turn all features on by default. It’s a balance that Apple executives are discussing at length, Williams says.
“We talk about it a lot. I think there are more and more ways to enable more features by default. One of the reasons we get people to enable it is to make sure they know about the feature. That’s really the key, ”says the operations manager.
“We’re seeing the profound impact it’s having and I think it’s something we’ll keep looking into whether or not these features are enabled by default.”
You can use the health sharing feature to monitor your family’s health
As mentioned earlier, in addition to the introduction of walking steadiness on the iPhone, there are a few other big changes in the Health app, including health sharing. This update enables users to securely share data about their fitness with loved ones no matter how far apart people are.
Apple hopes this will allow users to have more meaningful conversations and provide assistance – even remotely – while keeping track of important alerts and changes over time.
Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of health, told Express.co.uk about the potential benefits of health sharing: “iOS 15 allows you to give a loved one a secure view of health and wellness data so that you can have more informed conversations remotely and support and can track warnings and changes over time in this data as well.
“I think what we look forward to most is talking about your health, especially with loved ones who sometimes don’t want to ask for help – it’s a really nice way to get involved.
“There are many reasons people can share data, it could be an aging parent wanting to share their activity or maybe their heart health data with their family member.
“We’re really excited about this because we think it’s a really powerful way to stay connected, and it’s an opportunity to take care of your health.”
The iPhone now shows trends over time
Of course, sharing such personal data across multiple devices can make some worry about privacy, but Apple continues to strive to make sure everything stays secure.
“Health sharing is completely in your control who you share it with, it’s encrypted,” Williams explained. “Of course, you have to trust the loved one you shared it with, which is part of sharing it, but Apple doesn’t store it. Privacy is at the center of our work and we think that nothing is more important “than protecting your health information.”
Another update for the Health app is trend warnings. Once turned on, iPhone users will be notified if the device experiences dramatic changes in their health or fitness over an extended period of time. In fact, there are 20 data types within the scope of this trend analysis, ranging from resting heart rate to sleep and cardio fitness.
A critical part of maintaining personal wellbeing is tracking health changes that can be subtle and easy to miss. This is why Apple is so keen that users take advantage of this update.
“If you take care of your health over time, you can really gain valuable insights,” said Dr Desai. “We focus on those episodic moments too often and really want to change the conversation and be more preventative and proactive about your health. This feature allows users to view trends from one to six months.”
watchOS 8 can now track breathing rates at night
One final health feature Apple recently introduced is the ability to monitor breathing rate while you sleep. This was made available via the Apple Watch and the new watchOS 8 software.
This metric can be important to identify signs of health problems with Dr. to recognize Desai tells us: “Things like an increased breathing rate while sleeping can be a sign of certain conditions, and a decreased breathing rate can also be a sign of other conditions the breathing rate does while you sleep.”
Sleep pattern monitoring has been available on the Apple Watch for a while, but it’s clearly something Apple wants more people to try.
In fact, the new Series 7 device, which hits the market next week, now has a faster charge, which means more users can carry their device to bed knowing that the battery can then be topped up before going to the office walk.
“Faster charging is still a good thing, but it’s especially important because we want to make it really convenient to wear your watch in the evening and track your sleep,” said Williams.
“Sleep is so important to your health and wellbeing, and we know this is possible with the convenience of faster charging.”
If you want to try out all of these new wellness features, make sure your device is running iOS 15, then go to the Health app on your iPhone to activate it.