At first glance, the update doesn’t seem as radical as 2013’s iOS 7, which ushered in a major design shift. Yet when you look a little closer, you’ll find it packed with new features that could forever change the way we interact with our devices—and how developers craft experiences for us.
The overarching theme of iOS 8 is convergence—bringing everything together into an integrated, neat, easy-to-use whole. Nowhere is this clearer than in Apple’s two new toolkits for developers centered around health and home.
HealthKit: Bringing a Complete Medical Profile to Your Pocket
In one of the more eye-catching announcements, Apple revealed its attractive new Health app. Imagine tracking the miles you ran, calories you burned, food you ate, heart rate you reached, and sleep you got all in one place.
Drawing from formerly disparate wellness apps and fitness devices, Health unites all their data into centralized graphs displayed with Apple’s trademark elegance and simplicity. The app seems designed to beautifully bring together wearable tech devices like Nike’s FuelBand, FitBit, and—some speculate—Apple’s rumored iWatch. More than just a nifty chart tool, Health was prepared with help from the Mayo Clinic and Nike, and has already caught the attention of doctors.
“This could be revolutionary,” said one physician on Quora, clearly impressed with the health data able to be stored in the app, including lab results, allergies, medications, vitals, and more. “I feel that HealthKit might well be the first step in creating something akin to a universal [Electronic Medical Record]. [This] could potentially solve one of the single worst problems in healthcare today: the inability to easily transfer patient records from one care location to another.”
HomeKIt: Building the Home of the Future
Just as the HealthKit unites external fitness devices and fractured medical info, HomeKit empowers Apple’s devices to control virtually everything in your home.
Your iPad could very well be the central remote to your very first smart home. It seems like something out of a sci-fi flick: picture yourself dimming the lights, locking the doors, turning off the TV, and turning up the A/C with a few swipes and taps.
In fact, thanks to Siri-integration, you could even do all that with five simple words—simply saying “Siri, I’m going to bed,” could make your home sleep-ready in seconds. Partners already on board include Phillips, iHome, Haier, and many more.
In the realms of health and home, iOS 8 sees Apple devices flexing their muscles and exerting power well beyond their rounded-corner edges.
Whether it’s bringing together diverse medical records or uniting all the hardware in your house, iOS 8 shows that Apple is serious about becoming a central part of our lives. It’s a clear signal to both users and developers: Apple doesn’t just want everything in your life well-connected—it wants it all to be beautifully cohesive.
Author: Zack Smith