updated 01:29 am EDT, Fri June 6, 2014
Heart rate, blood pressure, glucose sensors and thermometers among list
As developers have gotten their hands on both iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, a number of smaller, unannounced discoveries have been made about the two forthcoming OS updates. The HealthKit platform and Health app, coming with iOS 8, have been revealed to support some Bluetooth medical accessories natively, meaning no third-party app is required to make the equipment work directly with the HealthKit API, connecting to and controlling the device as needed. Heart rate, blood pressure and glucose sensors, as well as thermometers and other devices that leverage Bluetooth LE should be able to connect natively and share data to HealthKit-based apps.
Other devices that do want or need separate apps to control them are also supported under HealthKit, provided they use other Apple APIs, including CoreBluetooth, USB, Wi-Fi or the ExternalAccessory framework. The combination should mean that most health-related equipment that is aimed to work with iOS 8 will work either natively or with underlying system support for connecting and relaying gathered data.
In addition, Apple is expected to bring the M7 co-processor to more iOS devices in the next-generation, allowing health and fitness apps to collect data without requiring extra power or processor resources to do so. The M7 is already well-supported by third-party health apps and will be part of the HealthKit API in iOS 8.
The help Apple is providing with these moves should allow for rapid device and app production, making it easy for a plethora of services and devices to be made compatible with most iOS 8-running devices once the OS update is released this fall. This should both help ensure that new iOS hardware and existing devices using iOS 8 will have a competitive edge over other platforms that have no integrated system for collecting medical-related data as iOS does, and demonstrate another advantage of the iOS platform's lack of fragmentation compared to Android.
Nearly all active iOS devices bar the iPhone 4 and original iPad are compatible with iOS 8, and should be able to take advantage of at least some of the main features of the HealthKit API, making many third-part devices and apps compatible. Even if Google added comparable health features natively into Android, only a small fraction of users would be able to leverage the features. Users of iOS devices are famous for quickly adopting the latest operating system version -- as of the WWDC announcements on HealthKit, some 90 percent of active iPhone users were running the latest major operating version, iOS 7.