New iOS and Apple Watch Health Features Announced at WWDC 2021

Image: Apple

With Apple’s documented interest in expanding its health and wellness footprint, it’s no surprise that the WWDC keynote earlier today was jam-packed with news of new health features coming soon to both iOS and Apple Watch:

  • Health Sharing — perhaps the biggest of the announcements, the new feature is a suite of new tools designed to allow a user to easily and securely share access to their health and wellness data, insights, and trends with another person, such as a partner, loved one, or doctor. The feature will be found in a new ‘Sharing’ tab in the ‘Health’ app on iOS 15. Users will have complete control over what data they share and with whom, and shared data will be end-to-end encrypted.
  • Trends — With iOS 15, the ‘Health’ app will be getting trend analysis capabilities for 20 types of data, from resting heart rate to sleep statistics and more.
  • Walking Steadiness — An “industry first” feature which records and analyzes mobility data to calculate an individual’s fall risk. The feature uses a number of metrics to gauge balance, stability, and coordination through the iPhone’s array of motion sensors. Only on iPhone 8 and later.
  • A new feature that lets users better track progress on personal wellness goals, like running distance or meditation time.
  • A new ‘Mindfulness’ app in watchOS 8 designed to improve focus and mental health through deep breathing exercises, meditation, self-reflection, and more. Could this be the new Mind app an Apple developer found while digging through the App Store over the weekend?
  • The ability to measure respiratory rate during sleep, coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 8.
  • Improvements to ‘Health Records’.
  • A new option to record and store immunization data and test results.

“This past year has emphasized the importance of health, and we’re enabling our users to take a more active role in their well-being. We’ve added powerful features that give users the most comprehensive set of insights to better understand their health trends over time,” said Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.

Apple’s new health and fitness features are slated to roll out with iOS 15 and watchOS 8 later this fall. While iOS 15 will be available on iPhone 6S and up, some new features like Walking Steadiness will only be available on the iPhone 8 and later models.