Apple's iWatch and iOS 8 linked by health app, sources say

Apple plans to release a new version of its iPhone operating system this year with health and fitness tracking integration, reports Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac, indicating that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is nearing the introduction of its long-awaited iWatch wristwatch-like device with health sensors.

Citing sources "briefed on the plans," Gurman reports that Apple's iOS 8 will include an app codenamed "Healthbook" that is capable of monitoring and storing fitness statistics such as steps taken, calories burned and miles walked. In addition, the app will have the ability to manage and track weight loss. 

Moreover, Healthbook will have the ability to monitor a user's vital signs, tracking a person's blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and potentially several other blood-related data points, such as glucose levels. The software is also programmed to allow users to enter details about their medications so that they can be reminded to take pills at scheduled times. 

"Apple has likely developed this new version of iOS with the upcoming iWatch in mind," writes Gurman. "Sources have previously indicated that Apple's wearable computer will have sensors to track and measure aspects of the human body. 'Healthbook' could be the conduit for users to read the data that the iWatch will collect."

Last month, Gurman reported that Apple is continuing to hire engineers and managers with expertise in developing medical sensors to work on its iWatch. Gurman predicted that if this technology is "integrated into a mass-produced product with the Apple brand," similar to what the company has done with its popular lines of music players and tablets, "it could take medical sensor technology and health monitoring to mainstream levels."

According to the New York Times, Apple executives met with medical device and app regulatory officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. Recently, Google employees also met with FDA officials at the regulatory agency's headquarters who regulate, among other things, eye devices. Soon after, the search engine giant unveiled its contact eye lenses, which use a tiny sensor and wireless transmitter, to monitor and measure glucose levels in tears, potentially replacing the self-administered blood tests from finger pricks that diabetics must endure on a daily basis. 

To learn more:
- read the article in 9to5Mac