Apple adds passive step counts, caffeine tracking to Health; hires Nike+ FuelBand engineers

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 9, 2014        

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HealthKitJust a month after Apple announced its health tracking platform for iOS 8, the company released a new beta version of the app with two new features: step counting and caffeine tracking, according to a report from 9to5Mac. Another report from 9to5Mac finds that Apple hired two engineers from the Nike+ FuelBand team in June, Ryan Bailey and Jon Gale.

These two are just the latest to join Apple’s growing iWatch team. Along with Bailey and Gale, Apple also recently added the sales director of Swiss watch company TAG Heuer.

Based on the first version of the iOS 8 beta, Apple’s Health app allows other health-related connected devices and applications to integrate data into Health to help users view all of their health metrics in one place. The app can also be a reference point for patients who want to use the app to send data to their physicians. At the time of Health’s launch, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi announced that Epic Systems, an electronic health record company, was working with Apple on some kind of integration with HealthKit. 

In the latest beta, a new step and distance tracking feature, which relies on the smartphone’s M7 motion coprocessor, is the Health app’s first tracking feature that doesn’t rely on a third party health device or app. With the tracking feature, users can sort their step data by day, week, month, and year. They can also remove sets of step data from the app if they were included in error.

This feature marks the first time Apple has made use of its M7 coprocessor for step tracking, but other third part app developers have been doing so for some time. Moves, which was recently acquired by Facebook, Noom, RunKeeper and Fitbit all offer apps that use the iPhone’s M7 motion coprocessor to passively track steps for users.

Apple also added caffeine intake to the company’s list of nutrition tracking metrics, which also includes total fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, calories, protein, vitamin (A, B6, B12, C, D, E, K), and calcium. Activity tracker company Jawbone already offers a dedicated app that tracks caffeine, called UP Coffee.

But while Apple’s Health app only allows users to manually add in data points to see how much caffeine they consume in a day, UP Coffee provides users with more information about how their caffeine intake affects sleep. After three days, the UP Coffee app will compare the user’s stats to other coffee drinkers’ and after one week, the app will provide the user with his or her “caffeine persona”.

MobiHealthNews pointed out in early June, just after Apple announced HealthKit , that the new app left out several common health tracking fields from its first beta, including actual lab results and diagnostics data, information from connected pill boxes, mental health, and ovulation tracking. Visit MobiHealthNews’ in-depth coverage on HealthKit’s feature set for more on what it does and doesn’t help users track.

  • [anonymous]

    Considering I am not a beta tester and can’t see this for myself. I give Apple point if they can get their phone to accurately count steps constantly without hurting battery life (even with their fancy M7).