At WWDC23, Apple said it’s adding a slew of new health features in iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and watchOS 10 that will help you take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
And while new mental health and vision features are coming across platforms, the more-general Health app finally arrives on iPad, as well.
New mental health and vision features come to iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and watchOS 10 while iPad gets the Health app
Apple described a number of new science-based health features at WWDC23 coming to its software platforms.
In a nutshell:
- Apple’s new mental-health features help you log feelings, gain insights and access resources.
- New vision-health features on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch encourage behavior that may reduce the risk of myopia.
- The Health app comes to iPad — after years of user requests — enabling new ways for you to see health data.
“Our goal is to empower people to take charge of their own health journey. With these innovative new features, we’re expanding the comprehensive range of health and wellness tools that we offer our users across iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch,” said Apple VP of Health Sumbul Desai, MD, who touted the new features in the WWDC23 keynote.
“Mental health and vision health are important, but often overlooked, and we’re excited to introduce features that offer valuable new insights to provide users with an even better understanding of their health. These insights help support users in their daily decisions and offer more informed conversations with their doctors,” she added.
Apple asserted that mental health, with its profound impact on how people feel, think and act, is as important as physical health. And attending to our mental health can really help us out:
Multiple studies by researchers have shown that identifying feelings reduces emotions like sadness and anger, and positively impacts our body by slowing our heart rate. Additionally, in a survey of participants in the UCLA Digital Mental Health Study, initial results showed more than 80 percent of participants found reflecting on their mood in the study app increased emotional awareness, and about half said it increased wellbeing.
Users can scroll through engaging, multidimensional shapes and choose how they are feeling in a range from Very Pleasant to Very Unpleasant. Then, they can select associations that are having the biggest impact on their feelings, like Travel or Family, and describe their feelings, such as Grateful or Worried.
In the Health app, users can see valuable insights to identify what might be contributing to their state of mind — whether it’s associations or lifestyle factors, such as sleep or exercise — and can use these insights to better manage their overall health.
And that’s in addition to depression and anxiety assessments in the Health app that are like the ones you might take in a clinic. They can help determine risk level, connect to nearby resources and create a PDF to share with a doctor.
Apple also noted that all health data is encrypted on locked devices and never shared with third parties without your permission.
Myopia, aka nearsightedness, plagues more people worldwide than any other vision impairment. It affects about 30 percent of people now and could hit half of the world’s population by 2050.
But experts say two behaviors may help children avoid myopia — “spending more time outdoors in daylight and increasing the distance at which they view something like a device or a book,” as Apple said.
And the company will help with that. Starting with watchOS 10, Apple Watch’s ambient light sensor can measure time spent in daylight — about 80 to 120 minutes is recommended — and users can view it in the Health app in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
Even if a kid lacks an iPhone, Family Setup can pair their Apple Watch to a parent’s iPhone, Apple said. Parents can see the kid’s time spend in daylight through Health Sharing.
Regarding viewing devices and such too closely, a new Screen Distance feature uses the TrueDepth camera (for Face ID on iPhone and iPad) to let a user know they should move the item farther away if they’ve been holding it less than a foot from their face for a while. That can help reduce myopia in young people and eases eye strain in anyone, Apple said.
Health app on iPad
Apple is big on its Health app, saying it’s “a central, secure, and private place for a user’s health and fitness information, and it provides users with meaningful insights to live a healthier life.” And it’s finally coming to your tablet, where it can do more good, via iPadOS 17.
It will surface information there from iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and compatible third-party apps and devices. As Apple said:
Now users can track and manage their medications, use Cycle Tracking, log their momentary emotions and daily moods, view their available health records from multiple institutions, and more directly on iPad. They can also choose to share data stored in the Health app with loved ones or caregivers using Health Sharing.
On iPad, the design of the Health app is optimized for the large display, with a new look for Favorites and detailed interactive charts. Users can receive insights into their health data with Trends and Highlights, and use iPadOS features like Split View to multitask with other apps while they view their health data.
And developers can now use HealthKit on iPad, helping them “create innovative health and fitness experiences that incorporate data users choose to share from the Health app, with rigorous privacy and data security protocols,” Apple said.
More health updates
Apple noted other health updates, as well:
With iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and watchOS 10, the Medications feature gives users the option to receive follow-up reminders if they haven’t logged taking a scheduled medication. Users can also make reminders as critical alerts, which allows them to come through even if a device is muted or has Focus enabled.
The new Journal app on iOS 17 gives users a way to reflect and practice gratitude through writing about and remembering life’s moments. It leverages the new Journaling Suggestions API to offer a personalized set of moments to write about, using on-device machine learning.
Apple Fitness+ introduces Custom Plans, a new way to receive a custom workout or meditation schedule based on day, duration, workout type and more; Stacks, which allows users to select multiple workouts and meditations to do back to back; and Audio Focus, which lets prioritize the volume of the music or trainers’ voices.
The developer beta of iOS 17 is available now to Apple Developer Program members and in a public beta next month. The features come out officially in a fall software updates for iPhone XS and later.