Apple has patented technology for smartphones to track blood pressure, but it is unlikely that it plans to add such functionality to its iPhone lineup this year. While current iPhone hardware is capable of measuring steps due to the recently introduced M7 chipset’s motion tracking abilities, the smartphone is incapable of measuring vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate. Instead, Apple has likely developed this new version of iOS with the upcoming iWatch in mind.
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. Indeed, sources with knowledge of the iWatch’s development say that the future product is designed to be heavily reliant on the iPhone.
Based on the health information that iOS 8 is capable of reading, Apple’s wearable device will seemingly have sensors at least capable of measuring blood pressure, hydration, heart rate, and steps. iOS 8 combined with the iWatch is said to be able to monitor several other pieces of health and fitness data, but additional specifics are not as clear as of now.
As Cook said last year, “the whole sensor field is going to explode.” “It’s a little all over the place right now… with the arc of time, it will become clearer,” he said. Sources also hint that Apple has developed technologies to be able to pack several different sensors into a single chipset for miniaturization purposes.
Cook previously told Apple employees that “big plans” are on the roadmap for this year. Other than the speculation that emerges from Cook’s comment and Apple’s work on iOS 8, there has been little other indication that Apple plans to reveal its wearable product this year. With iOS 8 likely to ship this year, a connection to the iWatch would seem to point to the wearable device also shipping in 2014.
Furthermore, another possibility, albeit a more unlikely one, is that iOS 8’s health functionality will be optimized for third-party health accessories in 2014 and Apple’s own hardware in future years.
Apple hired several health, medical, and fitness experts last year to work on these hardware and software projects. Some of the notable names include former Nike advisor Jay Blahnik and former Senseonics vice president Dr. Todd Whitehurst.
Apple recently added Ravi Narasimhan from general medical devices firm Vital Connect and Nancy Dougherty from startup Sano Intelligence to its iWatch development team. It is said Apple has also hired Michael O’Reilly, a former executive at Masimo Corporation who worked on noninvasive pulse sensors, last summer.
Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch, hardware executive Bob Mansfield, and senior hardware engineering manager James Foster are also said to be key players in the iWatch project.
»Okemo« -ski resort:
iOS 8 probably won’t feature major interface or graphics changes. There will be minor enhancements across the system, but none that are as noticeable as the changes introduced last year.
iOS 8 is codenamed “Okemo,” a popular ski resort in Vermont, U.S. This codename continues a long tradition of Apple internally naming iOS releases after ski resorts.
Apple has been developing enhancements to its Maps app, such as transit directions and indoor mapping, but sources say that development of an in-house transit feature is not moving along as quickly as some company leaders have hoped, and the feature is far from a lock for iOS 8. Sources also add that mapping functionality will be a focal point for the iWatch.
By leveraging the existing iPhone user base, Apple’s plans for a health and fitness-focused version of iOS and the potential of an advanced, sensor-packed wearable computer could allow it to re-invent yet another critical industry.