View your medical records from dozens of hospitals on your iPhone

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Your health records from nearly 80 hospital can be collected so they're viewable on your iPhone.
Your health records from nearly 80 hospital can be collected so they're viewable on your iPhone.
Photo: Apple

The goal of Apple’s Health Records initiative is to enable iOS users to see their medical history right on their device. Hospitals need to share their data for this to work, and Apple is getting a strong response.

When Apple introduced this addition to the Health app in January, there were just a dozen hospitals and clinics participating. That number has grown dramatically in the intervening months.

Clue helps you understand your period. [50 Essential iOS Apps #44]

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Clue app current cycle screen
Clue helps you understand your body's reproductive cycle.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: clue appFor the last few years, health has been a key focus area for Apple. Fitness tracking, sleep tracking, nutrition tracking, mindfulness and even reproductive health have made their way into the Health app. Unfortunately, when it comes to your sexual wellbeing, Apple’s offering is pretty minimal. With Clue: Period and Ovulation Tracker, you can track a wide range of physical and mental details and gain useful insights into patterns and abnormalities in your natural cycle.

Understand your sleep patterns with Pillow [50 Essential iOS Apps #35]

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Pillow on Apple Watch report
Pillow users your Apple Watch or iPhone for sleep tracking and reporting your sleep quality.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: pillow sleep tracker appDo you ever wake up feeling exhausted, even though you are sure you slept well the night before? Or do you find yourself getting that 2:30 feeling a few hours early without any clear explanation? With the Pillow sleep app for iPhone and Apple Watch, you can get detailed analysis of your nightly slumber. Even better, you can gain insight into your body’s ideal sleep and wake times.

Murder trial delayed for ‘unprecedented, critical’ Apple Watch evidence

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Apple Watch heart-rate monitor
Apple Watch heart rate monitor could help change the course of a murder investigation.
Photo: Apple

An Australian murder trial has been pushed back to January 2019 so that prosecutors can seek expert analysis of “unprecedented, critical evidence” taken from an Apple Watch worn at the time of the event.

As we’ve noted before, the Apple Watch has become a central piece of evidence in the Myrna Nilsson murder case because it appears to contradict testimony about the point at which the death took place.

This hidden Apple Watch stat tells you whether to exercise or rest

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Heart Rate Variability will help make your workouts more effective
Heart Rate Variability will help make your workouts more effective
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Imagine if your Apple Watch could tell you which days were best for you to do a workout, and what kind of workout you should do. Well it can, sort of, thanks to a hidden feature that few people have yet discovered or know how to use.

Heart rate variability, or HRV, is a new metric that reveals your stress level and whether you have recovered from your last workout. It has been added to lots of high-end sports watches in recent years, including Apple Watch since watchOS 4 & iOS 11.

Here’s how you can use it to optimize your training, reduce your risk of injury, and know when to take a well-earned rest day.

iOS 11.3 arrives with new battery features and more

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Animoji
iOS 11.3 comes with four new Animoji.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The first major iOS update of 2018 has finally arrived, bringing a host of new features and improvements to the iPhone and iPad.

Apple initially released iOS 11.3 yesterday just for the only available to download on the new 9.7-inch iPad Apple. Now the software update is finally available to all users worldwide.

How to set up Apple’s Health app to unlock its awesome fitness potential

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Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you think the Health app is just another pointless junk app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone, think again. Unlike Stocks, Compass or Tips, it is one of the few apps that Apple won’t let you delete. Set up the Apple Health app properly, and it becomes a powerful tool for getting (or staying) fit.

You see, the Health app lies at the heart of Cupertino’s growing health and fitness ambitions. And with its underlying HealthKit API, the Health app provides the framework that Apple Watch uses to gather data on your daily activity, heart rate and workouts.

But the Health app is more than just a place for storing data. With every iOS update, Apple makes major improvements to it. So, if you still think the Health app is a waste of space, it’s probably time you gave it another look. Especially if you own an Apple Watch. You’ll find it contains loads of useful, well-presented data that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Why it sucks when fitness apps don’t share your workout data with Apple

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Who owns your workout data?
Who owns your workout data?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The workout data I log with my Apple Watch belongs to me. It‘s not Apple’s — nor is it Nike’s, Strava’s or anyone else’s, for that matter. It is mine. I paid for it with my own blood, sweat and tears. (OK, it’s mostly sweat, but there were some tears along the way, too.) Over the years, I’ve logged more than 18,000 miles of running data and it is something I’m pretty proud of.

So it really bugs me when mega-corporations try to corral my activity data into their fancy walled gardens, like they think they own it. Apple used to be just as guilty of this as all the other workout rustlers. But the folks in Cupertino did a major pivot in iOS 11. They decided to actually put users in control of our workout data. Apple made it easy for apps to share workout route maps with each other via HealthKit.

The trouble is, none of the major fitness apps are playing ball, and that sucks. Luckily, some indie devs are doing the right thing.

Why fitness apps use calories to help you lose weight

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There's no barcode on this doughnut so it doesn't count
There's no barcode on this doughnut so it doesn't count
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Most fitness apps seem obsessed with calories. Go for a run, and your Apple Watch tells you how many calories you burned. Scan a barcode and MyFitnessPal tells you how many calories are in the food you are about to eat.

So what exactly are calories, and does counting them really help you achieve your fitness goals?

How to turn your iPhone’s Health app into an essential fitness dashboard

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A dashboard for your body: all your key stats at a glance.
The Health app can become a dashboard for your body, offering all your key stats at a glance.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Despite its heart-shaped icon, Health is an unloved app. It tends to gets relegated to a junk folder, along with other un-deletable Apple cruft, like the Stocks app.

But when you get past its garish colors and clunky user interface, Apple’s Health app turns out to be genuinely useful — if you customize the dashboard to match your personal fitness goals.