Update: HealthKit bug forces Apple to pull fitness apps

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Apple's reputation as a mobile health company is growing. Photo: Apple
Apple's reputation as a mobile health company is growing. Photo: Apple

A bug in HealthKit caused Apple to pull several fitness apps from its App Store Wednesday morning, just as the company was rolling out its long-awaited iOS 8 update.

Apple said the problem could keep apps compatible with HealthKit, a key component of iOS 8 that facilitates sharing of data among health and fitness apps and hardware, out of the store for weeks. “We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month,” Apple said in a statement to Cult of Mac.

Brian Mueller, developer of Carrot Fit, said Apple called and emailed him to say his fitness app had been removed from the App Store due to a last-minute problem with HealthKit. His app, and several others including My Fitness Pal and WebMD for iPhone, are currently unavailable for download.

“The rep couldn’t clarify what was wrong,” Mueller told Cult of Mac in an email, “though users of the app who had already downloaded the update were able to use the HealthKit features without any issue.”

HealthKit is Apple’s ambitious new framework for allowing health and fitness data to be shared among various apps and hardware. It is designed to let apps, fitness bands, medical devices and the upcoming Apple Watch work together to provide a better picture of the user’s overall health.

While HealthKit is already being used by top hospitals to help with treatment of blood pressure and diabetes, Apple has had to tweak it to protect patient privacy.

Mueller said Apple told him he could submit an older version of Carrot Fit — one that does not include HealthKit support — for expedited review.

“They didn’t have any ETA on when the fix will go live,” he said.

The folks behind My Fitness Pal told Cult of Mac that a bug prevented their app from being available on iOS 8 today.

“Teams are working quickly to update this issue,” they said in an email. “We’re working on a version of the app without the HealthKit integration to get back up on the store as soon as possible.”

WebMD had similar issues to report. “Earlier today, WebMD introduced a new version of its mobile app for iPhone (v 5.3), that connects seamlessly with Apple’s HealthKit and provides consumers with powerful new ways to capture, visualize and understand health information from a broad range of biometric devices,” said a spokesperson from WebMD, another app that was affected by the bug. Our new app had been available for download in the app store until 10:30 this morning, at which point it became unavailable. We have been in contact with Apple about this issue, and expect to see the previous version of our app (v 5.2) back in the store on a temporary basis.”

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and confirmation of this developing story.

Additional reporting by Luke Dormehl.