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Improve Your Health and Automate Your Home Using Your iOS Mobile Device

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This chapter from iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks (covers iPhones and iPads running iOS 8), 4th Edition introduces some of the cutting-edge apps related to health, fitness, and home automation that are now available with iOS 8.
This chapter is from the book

One of the things that’s built in to every iPhone and iPad model running iOS 8 is potential. In other words, what your smartphone or tablet is or will soon be capable of is limited only by the imaginations of app developers and your willingness to embrace cutting-edge new ways to utilize this technology in your everyday life.

Built in to iOS 8 are a vast assortment of tools available to app developers that now make it easier to create cutting-edge apps related to health, fitness, and home automation. As third-party developers begin to utilize these tools, and equipment manufacturers build iPhone compatibility and integration into their products, what will soon be possible using your smartphone or tablet are things that just a few years ago were only featured in science fiction novels, movies, and comic books.


Among all the other app icons displayed on your iPhone’s Home screen is a new app called Health. On its own, the Health app can’t do much. However, for people who are fitness, health, and/or nutrition conscious, the Health app works as a “dashboard” with a growing number of other workout and fitness, diet, and lifestyle apps, and it can help you monitor and analyze your daily activity, food intake, and sleep patterns.

Beyond just working with other apps, the Health app is designed to integrate and communicate with optional equipment, such as the Apple Watch, as well as a vast selection of other fitness and medical devices, ranging from heart-rate monitors to workout machines, digital scales, and various types of sleep and blood sugar monitors. The Health app is designed to gather information from these sources and help you track your progress and share this data with appropriate professionals, when applicable.

The Health app comes preinstalled with iOS 8; however, as of Fall 2014, the potential of what this app will be able to do when used with other apps and equipment has barely been tapped. Apple is working closely with hospitals and medical equipment companies, fitness companies (including Nike), as well as many app developers to begin creating health, fitness, and diet tools for the iPhone that will make it easier for anyone to lead a healthier lifestyle.

What’s nice about the Health app is that it’s fully customizable. You determine what data it collects or what you enter into it, and then you determine how that data is used and whether it can be shared. If you ultimately choose to share certain information in the app, such as your fitness or workout progress with a personal trainer, you can still keep other medical data private.


Without allowing your iPhone to communicate with other optional fitness or medical equipment, the Health app’s capabilities are limited to being a secure personal database for medical, diet, and health-related information that you manually enter into the app, or that can be imported from other apps installed on your iPhone.

To get started using the Health app, launch it from the Home screen. By default, the Dashboard screen is displayed. This is where collected data from optional apps and equipment is displayed in one centralized place. Using this data, you can easily track your health, fitness, diet and/or sleep patterns. Tap on the Day, Week, Month, or Year tabs that are displayed along the top of the screen to sort and display this information, if applicable.

Displayed along the bottom of the screen are four command icons, labeled Dashboard, Health Data, Sources, and Medical ID. Tap on the Health Data icon to access a menu of categories related to the types of data the Health app is capable of collecting, tracking, analyzing, and sharing. As you can see from Figure 10.1, options include Body Measurements, Fitness, Me, Nutrition, Results, Sleep, and Vitals.


FIGURE 10.1 This is the main Health Data menu that’s displayed when you tap on the Health Data icon.

Tap on any of these options, and you can manually enter relevant data. For example, tap on the Me option to enter your Birthdate, Biological Sex, and Blood Type. Tap on Nutrition to manually track your intake of specific food types or the nutritional aspects of the food you eat. For example, from the Nutrition menu, tap on Caffeine, and then each time you consume a caffeinated beverage, tap on the Add Data Point option (shown in Figure 10.2).


FIGURE 10.2 You can manually track your intake of various types of foods or other nutrition-related information using the Health Data option built in to the Health app.

From the Add Data screen, the time and date are automatically recorded (however, you can tap on these fields to override them), and then you’re prompted to enter your consumption amount. As you do this over time, you can tap on the Day, Week, Month, or Year tabs displayed at the top of the Caffeine screen, for example, to display how much caffeine you consume and what times of day you’re most apt to consume it. As you tap on each tab, this information is also displayed in chart form on the screen.

When it comes to selecting which apps and optional equipment you want to utilize with the Health app, this is controlled by tapping on the Sources icon. From here, you control which apps and equipment can transmit data to or retrieve data from the Health app. If no optional apps or equipment are being used, the word None is displayed under the Apps heading.


Whether or not you’re using any additional apps or equipment, you can utilize the Medical ID tool that’s built in to the Health app. This is basically a digital summary of vital medical information that you can make available to doctors, paramedics, or medical personnel in case of an emergency.

To use the Medical ID component of the Health app, tap on the Medical ID icon (in the lower-right corner of the screen). From the Medical ID welcome screen, tap on the Create Medical ID option, and then tap on each field to manually enter medical information about yourself (shown in Figure 10.3).


FIGURE 10.3 By filling in the Medical ID component of the Health app with your personal data, it can later be accessed by medical professionals in an emergency situation.

Here, you can list your medical conditions, emergency contacts, primary care physician, your birthday (age), height, weight, blood type, and whether you want to be an organ donor. For easy identification, you can also include a photo of yourself in the app.

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