A Look at the Health App in iOS 13

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/08/05/a-look-at-the-health-app-in-ios-13/

iOS 13’s Health app not only gathers more of our scattered health information but also helps us understand and use it in practical and potentially profound ways. Here’s what you can look forward to in a few months.

What I don’t get about the Health app on the iPhone is why it won’t sync active energy properly to MyFitnessPal (where I do calorie logging) even though it syncs the steps correctly. So I have to use MapMyRun to sync workouts. If the Health app synced calories correctly it would be better because it’s monitoring all the time.

I also don’t get what the Health app on my Apple Watch (series 1) adds that the Health app on my iPhone is already doing, since I carry my iPhone in my shirt pocket wherever I go.

Why an article on the health app in IOS 13 when IOS 13 isn’t yet available. Are we really doing articles based on betas that aren’t generally available.
I think Tidbits is jumping the gun here doing articles on apps in versions that aren’t yet completed or generally available to most readers.

There is nothing wrong it’s an article about future Apple OS features, as long as it’s based on information that has been publicly released, usually at WWDC.

But you are correct that this article goes beyond that in that it appears to be mostly based on public beta experiences, including screen shots that are specifically prohibited by the Apple NDA associated with said beta.

Further more, it is common to see features included in beta releases disappear from the release version when they prove not ready for prime time.

It’s not up to me or any other reader to do more than point this out. It’s up to Apple to enforce it’s own rules, should they choose to.

I am also interested in the current version of the app and it’s ongoing issues. In my case it seems to read some data points from my preferred cycling app, iCardio, twice, so recorded distances are far too large, whereas other data like steps seem right. I think there may be issues here that affect developers of other fitness apps. I would like to see an informed review of the app’s data collection methods before learning about semi-publised new features.

Two thoughts. First is that iOS 13 absolutely is available as a public beta to anyone who wants to try it. Second, is that if we fail to cover things that are in wide circulation and coming very soon (could be 30-45 days), then we just suffer in comparison to every other site that’s doing such coverage. No one will say “Wow, I’ll read TidBITS because they’re not covering iOS 13 yet.”

We’ve given up on following the Apple NDA. If Apple isn’t going to enforce it, it’s worthless. (Failure to enforce is a problem in certain areas of the law. If you don’t protect a trademark, for instance, you lose it.) As I mentioned above, all that following the NDA does is ensure that our coverage is far, far later than articles from any other publication. And that hurts us forever, since search engines will see those other articles as more relevant because they’ll have gotten a lot more attention and links early on. Heck, there are plenty of YouTube videos showing off the developer betas—here’s 9to5Mac showing the changes in Beta 5.

All that said, we’re not writing about things that don’t work, things that are likely to change, or anything that we don’t think will be useful once the final release comes out.

A fine topic for discussion in TidBITS Talk, but definitely not something we’d write about in TidBITS because the article would be obsolete within weeks.

I tend to agree that articles on using future features aren’t as helpful in advance of release. Most people don’t have the new software, and the main value then is raising interest in future features. The primary time I need info is when the software is actually out here, and I have to figure out how to use it myself. And I have to think “Where did I see those instructions?” And then search around my sources for the last few months.

I’d rather have complete articles on the full released software coming out at release time. Same thing happened with Mojave - all the new features were months old in publications, and often easier to work out myself. And then I’d always miss something important. IMHO.

Fair enough. Clearly, we’re not publishing a great deal about iOS 13 or macOS 10.15 Catalina right now. But do keep in mind that if everything has to wait until it’s live, some things will never get covered because it’s WAY too much to fit in even over months.

Count me as one person who is interested in these articles, and thank you for providing them. There are topics that Tidbits publishes that do not interest me, but I just don’t read those articles.

For those of us who are waiting for the official release of new system software, it would be nice if TIdbits does two things upon the official release:

  1. Publish a list of links to the relevant articles that discussed the items while they were in beta.

  2. Update those articles to correspond to any updates that occurred prior to the production release.

About the health app - one protects one’s ears by not exposing your ears to loud sounds for a long period of time when you are young (under 65:-). If you are older, and have age and genetic hearing loss and use hearing aids, does it further damage your ears now that you must use a higher settings on your phone than is “safe” for a younger person?

I agree that these extra steps that Alan suggests would be a good resource after the release. It would in MHO answer many of the objections expressed above. I would also count myself as one who appreciates the concept of writing this type of article during the Public Beta. There is so much to cover that it makes sense to start as early as possible to avoid overload (for both writers and readers) on official release day.

New Zealander’s are notorious early adopters and I’m using the public beta on my phone and Mac, like many others. Therefore for me and others these type of subjects are very current.

We link heavily to past articles, so any time there’s an appropriate context within a new article, there will be a link back. And we have an “iOS 13” tag appearing at the bottom of every appropriate article that, when clicked, brings together all those articles.

That we won’t do—we have a strict policy against historical revisionism. The only changes that are ever made to an article after an issue goes out are fixes for typos or very explicitly marked updates in a case where future readers would be seriously misled by the old information.

The comment stream for an article is where such updates can be made, either by us or by readers. Or, if the changes are sufficiently major, we could write a new article. But if we’re doing our job right, there won’t be enough changes for that to happen.

The simple fact of the matter is that we have way too large of an archive—many thousands of articles over 29 years—to be going back and adjusting content after the fact.

That’s a fabulous question, and we really need someone with medical experience to answer it. @ron, would you know anything about this? Or any other doctors in the audience?

I’m a simple family doctor and headshrinker, not an otolaryngologist or audiologist. I would suggest, however, that the answer is “probably not.” The more common affliction in old age is hyperacusis, where the mechanism that damps loud sounds don’t work as well. That combines with selective hearing loss at specific frequencies from prolonged exposure to too much sound pressure damaging cochlear nerve fibers. The result is that folks will have trouble understanding spoken words, so they turn up the volume, but the loud volume becomes unpleasant, so they turn it down and then up again when they start losing audibility. The result is a very different type of exposure than, say, listening to very loud music at a concert venue (which a hyperacusis sufferer would be likely to avoid, consciously or otherwise) or industrial exposure.

In the end, it’s probably quite individual. Certainly the stereotype oldster is more likely to be listening to spoken word or to music that doesn’t endorse the “if it’s too loud, you’re too old” volume guidelines, but I have older friends who are still playing rock and roll, the volume on my car sound system actually goes up to 11, and I’ll be at a flat track motorcycle race this weekend. But those exposures are more a continuation of exposures begun in my misspent youth than a result of any age-related hearing loss. No doubt somebody out there has damaged their hearing further by cranking up the volume due to hearing loss, but I’m guessing that is only a very small contribution to further hearing loss in the aged.



Here’s an article about how menstruation-tracking apps regularly share data with Facebook and advertisers, including when you last had sex. If you’re using an app to get such data into Health, you might want to choose the one (Period Tracker by GP International) that doesn’t do this. Otherwise, it’s a cautionary tale that gives Apple’s strong stance on privacy a boost.

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