The Apple rumor mill is churning yet again, this time in response to reports that two top Apple executives met with representatives of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December. Apple aficionados armed with this knowledge and hearing reports that Apple is developing a new “Healthbook” app, are taking this as a sign that Apple could be taking the company in the direction of expanding into the growing health and fitness business in a big way.
The FDA meeting is suspected to have been held either as an attempt to expedite the approval of the Healthbook app or as an opportunity for Apple to discuss “a new generation of medical devices” with the agency charged with protecting the public health of U.S. citizens.
Speculation is that the Healthbook app will be a large component of an upcoming iteration of Apple iOS, possibly even its next highly anticipated iteration, iOS 8. Healthbook is rumored to appear and function similarly to the existing Apple Passbook app that stores information about things like store membership cards, gift card balances and coupons for users. Healthbook would instead store information about health-related issues such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and hydration levels. Healthbook may also be capable of measuring numbers of steps taken, distances traveled, and calories burned, in addition to offering the option of alerting those with prescribed medications that it is time to take their pills.
Further adding to the hype about the possibility of Apple entering into the health and fitness arena is the reported hiring of several “small device, fitness, and medical experts” over the course of the past several months. It is believed that these experts would be working on specific health sensors to monitor the bodies of Healthbook users. Apple has already developed some such devices and apps from other companies, including the well-known Fitbit, have been able to take advantage of the technology through the iPhone 5s.
The ever-growing competition between Apple and Google to stay on top of tech trends has some believing that the Cupertino company would be wise to take on health and fitness as well. Google has been very transparent about their meetings with the FDA in recent months as they are attempting to develop and bring to market a contact lens containing health sensors.
The long-rumored iWatch might also play a part in Apple’s supposed expansion into the fitness arena and the use of the rumored Healthbook app. So-called “wearables” have been a hot item in the news and grabbed a lot of attention at the recent Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Recent reports have indicated that the company is trying to work out the kinks of the much-anticipated iWatch and that it is likely to make its debut late in 2014. It is believed that the device will be independently capable of running a full version of iOS and will also be compatible with other iOS devices. Apple has yet to confirm the rumors that the iWatch or any similar product exists, but industry insiders say it is coming.
By Michele Wessel