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New Apple health features in iOS 15, watchOS 8 to help with care of the elderly

Apple has announced several new features on the iOS 15, watchOS 8 that are focused on health and wellness of its users.

twitter-logoSarthak Dogra | June 11, 2021 | Updated 17:48 IST

Highlights

  • Apple previewed new health features for the iOS 15 at WWDC 2021.
  • One such will allow easy sharing of health data among loved ones.
  • The features will be available for iPhone and Apple Watch users upon the rollout of iOS 15 and watchOS 8 later this year.

Apple seems to be focusing on the elderly with its new health features due to appear on iOS 15 later this year. The features will help users track more health data than ever before and share it with their loved ones enabling constant monitoring.

Apple has introduced these features at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The company announced that the iOS 15 will bring Walking Steadiness, Health Sharing and Health Trends to iPhone users upon its release this fall.

Here is a look at what these features are and how they can benefit the health of iPhone and Apple Watch users.

Walking Steadiness

Apple says that over 37 million people each year require medical attention as a result of a fall. Some of these cases lead to other serious injuries and subsequent loss of movement. Walking Steadiness is an attempt by Apple to tackle this issue.

Claimed to be an industry first, Walking Steadiness captures important mobility data from the built-in motion sensors in iPhones. So as the users walk, the technology uses custom algorithms to assess their balance, stability, and coordination.

The data is used to provide an insight into fall risk so users can take proactive measures. Apple states that users can also capture everyday movements and surface classifications within the Health app as OK, Low, or Very Low to keep track.

Walking Steadiness has been built on real-world data from the Apple Heart and Movement Study. The company claims that the study comprised of more than 100,000 participants across ages and is the "largest data set ever used to study fall risk."

The technology is a natural evolutionary step towards the risk by Apple. The company already offers a fall detection feature on its Apple Watch that initiates an emergency response if it detects a fall and subsequent immobility. Walking Steadiness on iPhone is more of a predictive step than a response.

Health data sharing

iOS 15 users will be able to share their health and wellness data recorded from iPhone and Apple Watch. This will be possible through a new Sharing tab in the Health app. Users can simply choose the person with whom they want to share their data.

As can be understood, the feature will enable constant monitoring and regular updates on the health of a loved one. In the US, it will also allow users to share certain types of health data like "heart rate, detected falls, hours of sleep, or exercise minutes," with their doctors. Apple says that the data in such cases will be shared with the electronic health records system at participating healthcare organizations, where a physician can then review it directly.

As for the sharing of this health data with a loved one or a caregiver, the person will receive it with important insights and trends highlighted. This will enable the observer to spot any anomalies in the regular health patterns of the person.

Trends

iOS 15 will also bring trend analysis to the Health app. The feature will analyse the trend for 20 types of data including resting heart rate, sleep and cardio fitness. This will enable easy tracking of important changes in health, also allowing users to be aware of their health patterns and take proactive measures against anomalies.

The feature will also let users keep tabs on goals. Trends will also share notifications (optional) with the user highlighting long-term changes in health.

watchOS 8

Other than iPhones, Apple is also updating the safety features on its Apple Watch. The company has announced the support for measuring respiratory rate on Apple Watch during sleep. With the watchOS 8, users will be able to keep a record of the number of breaths per minute while sleeping.

There is also a new Mindfulness app in watchOS 8 that aids with a deep breathing experience. The app will feature Breathe and Reflect sessions to help users focus and meditate.

Also read: | iPhone 6s, a 6-year-old phone, is getting iOS 15, and Android needs to learn something from it

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