iPhone 6: Health app is watching you

The Healthkit initiative in iOS hasn't gone anywhere yet but your new iPhone is already tracking you.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
(Image: James Kendrick/ ZDNet)

Apple made a big deal about the Healthkit initiative kicked off in iOS 8. The goal is to have Healthkit work with third-party apps and accessories to track iPhone owners' health and fitness activities. Healthkit wasn't ready when iOS 8 was released but made it into the failed iOS 8.0.1 update. It's enabled in the current version of iOS (8.0.2).

The Health app in iOS is the hub for Healthkit. It gathers health and fitness data collected by third-party apps and accessories and displays it in one place. Apple says this data is encrypted on the iPhone to protect privacy.

Healthkit is such a new concept that there aren't many apps nor accessories to take advantage of it, but the new iPhones are already tracking you.

Due to lack of support, you may have ignored the Health app on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. I did the same, and was surprised when I first ran the Health app to discover my iPhone 6 Plus had been tracking my walking since first turning on the phone.

The Health app had been tracking every step I'd taken in the week since turning on the iPhone for the first time. Walking is the central theme in my health regiment, and it was great to see the total number of steps taken each day and the distance covered.

There are two items in the dashboard that detailed my walking. The first tracked it in number of steps taken, and the second in distance. The latter indicated both walking and running distance.

This clearly demonstrates the benefits of Healthkit. Without any action on the user's part, the iPhone and accessories produced to work with it track exercise. The Health app gathers that information and displays a dashboard (see image above) to produce an overview of the monitoring.

The importance of Healthkit will be evident when apps and accessories appear in numbers. This is an exciting time for iOS and the iPhone.

If you own a new iPhone and haven't already done so, take a look at the Health app. See first-hand how far you've walked since turning on the iPhone. Perhaps this will spur iPhone owners to exercise more and pay better attention to health.

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