A peek at Healthbook, Apple's fitness tracking App

Fitness and healthcare tracking apps and devices are becoming increasingly popular for people on the go. Upstart brands like Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Moov and others have been pioneers in this new category, along with more established names like the Nike Fuelband. More recently, big tech names like Samsung, Qualcomm and Motorola have shown off their first smart watches, but the reviews have not been enthusiastic. 

On the software side, a rapidly growing number of health, diet, fitness tracking and exercise training apps are available for iOS, Android, Macs and PCs, many of which either work with a specific fitness band or smart watch. In addition, many of these share data with other apps like Lose-It!, helping you keep track of your daily calories, nutrition and exercise.

But so far, a well known name has been missing: Apple. The company has been typically quiet about what it might be doing. But keen observers have noted a number of developments hinting that Apple is about to launch something big in fitness and health. 

Recently, Apple has hired a number of world-class experts in health, fitness and medical devices. In addition, Apple has made several acquisitions of companies whose technologies would be essential for a health and fitness tracking smart watch or similar wearable device, and has filed a number of patents in this category. And yesterday, Apple rumor site 9 to 5 Mac posted an excellent report on an iOS application codenamed Healthbook

If all this is true, it looks like the nascent category for health & fitness devices and tracking apps is about to become serious.

As shown in the screen shot below, Healthbook (which might only be a working title of the Apple project) appears to be a comprehensive iOS health and fitness app. Using an interface similar to the iOS Passbook app, Healthbook contains a set of individual cards measuring and tracking key factors such as activity, nutrition (allowing users to log and track their food intake and diet), sleep as well as weight (including pounds, BMI and fat %). Where it gets more interesting is that Healthbook can also track heart rate, blood pressure, hydration, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and blood sugar among other attributes. There's even an emergency card that would likely include details of ICE contacts, blood type, medications, allergies, conditions and more.

Screen shot of Apple's rumored Healthbook app

Screen shot of Apple's rumored Healthbook app

It's unclear yet whether Healthbook would be dedicated to a specific rumored Apple smart watch or health & fitness tracking device (or unannounced product combining all of this) under development, or whether Healthbook is designed to work with other devices now on the market, or both. 

What Healthbook does promise is that individuals may soon have a comprehensive and easy way to log and track their health, diet and activity. Whether you are an athlete who obsessively wants to track your progress and state of fitness, a diabetic who needs to monitor insulin levels, someone trying to lose weight, or if you're like me, someone who wants to stay on track with your overall health, diet, sleep and fitness, Healthbook sounds exciting.

It's hard to say if or when Apple might launch Healthbook, a rumored smart watch or fitness tracking device. But it appears that later this summer, Apple will roll out iOS 8, the company's next big software update for the iPhone, iPad and possibly other mobile devices to come. Rumor sites like 9 to 5 Mac believe that when it does, Apple will likely roll out Healthbook, and if the rumors prove to be true, something much more.

For active individuals who want an easy way to keep up on their health, diet and fitness, Healthbook holds a lot of promise. The idea that you can quickly monitor your health and activity anywhere you travel appeals to me, and I have a hunch that I'm not alone. Often, we're greeted with products that are a solution in search of a problem. Yet there is a growing interest in actively controlling our health and well being, and the emergence of Healthbook is evidence of this. 

I firmly believe that the best way to control the costs of healthcare start with us, and our commitment to a maintaining a good diet and staying active. Having a tool like Healthbook could do much to make managing my health easy, and reinforce good habits that could make my life more fulfilling. That's why I'm so hopeful about what Apple and other companies are doing. In the end, we could all win.

To learn more about Apple Healthbook and for insights on where the company might be headed in creating a smart watch and/or fitness tracking product, give this excellent article from 9 to 5 Mac a read. It's well worth your time.

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