It’s been a couple of weeks since Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), and if you are still trying to catch up with the highlights, let us help you get up to speed.
WWDC Blog recaps:
- Check out our day-one recap
- Hear our thoughts about how these innovations will help Apple win the enterprise and change the future of work
- Discover what’s new from Apple for Education to innovate
While WWDC brings a number of exciting announcements for developers and users alike, impactful innovations in Apple’s longstanding mission to improve health and wellness were also visibly on display.
It’s been a few years since Tim Cook was first quoted saying Apple’s greatest contribution to humanity would be in health. And he has reaffirmed this belief over the years. If this emphasis wasn’t clear during the recent WWDC sessions, Apple’s press release brings it into view: Apple provides powerful insights into new areas of health.
“Our goal is to empower people to take charge of their own health journey. With these innovative new features, we’re expanding the comprehensive range of health and wellness tools that we offer our users across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.” - Sumbul Desai, M.D., Apple’s Vice-President of Health
At Jamf, we are passionate about the way that technology empowers people to live a better life. And while there were a number of platform improvements for device management announced this year, the updates highlighted below are all personal features.
Whether your device is provided and managed by work or your own, all Apple devices share these user features, which if leveraged, can help you become a better version of yourself. Check out the details below!
It’s no surprise that mental health awareness is continuing to come into focus. Especially with what the world has faced over the last few years. After living through a global pandemic, people from all walks of life are more openly discussing and destigmatizing the need for mental health, which is long overdue.
While many have been harnessing the benefits of mental health services for years, others are exploring what’s available for the first time, often in a digital or app-based form. Mixed with the growing concerns about privacy, some look for these self-service ways to start their own mental health journey, but are left with fear and doubt. Luckily for them - and us all - Apple offered an exciting glimpse into what’s ahead with the fall operating system releases.
As Apple shared in the press release, “a recent CDC article shows that nearly 30% of US adults have showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.” That is quite an impactful stat. Even more impactful is what Apple is doing about it. Apple users will now have simple, on-demand access to assessments in the Health app to survey for depression and anxiety, and determine if it’s time to get additional help. These are often the same surveys used in a clinical setting, but now available whenever is right for you.
While the Mindfulness app is not new to watchOS, and it has long offered breathing and meditation exercises to help reduce stress, its functionalities are drastically expanded across the platform this year. New in Mindfulness on watchOS 10, users can now log “momentary emotions” and their overall mood. And this data will be available in the Health app to review insights about what may have contributed to their state of mind.
More on the Health app below… so keep reading.
Apple’s announcement of a Journal app for iOS 17 provides users with a whole new way to capture their thoughts and reflect on moments in their lives. With a new Journaling Suggestions API, a user can benefit from quick prompts from their digital life - say places or photos from a recent vacation - or a recent workout with friends. On-device machine learning allows this experience to be snappy for users, and entirely secure. Notifications can be configured to remind a user when it’s time to journal, helping this practice become a habit.
As cited in Apple’s release, “research shows that reflecting on one’s own mental state can help build emotional awareness and resilience; can reduce emotions like sadness and anger; and positively impact our body by slowing our heart rate.” While journal and diary apps are not at all new, it’s exciting to see how Apple is opening up a native way that integrates across devices and the platform overall.
The second health category highlighted at WWDC 2023 was vision. Apple has introduced two specific ways to help users to monitor and adjust behaviors that help prevent Myopia or nearsightedness.
Why Myopia you ask? It’s the leading contributor to vision impairment around the world. So what are the features of iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and watchOS 10 that help, and what are the behaviors to watch out for? Some may have felt like common sense to many parents for years but are now things able to be realized through monitoring and tracking. For example:
Monitor Screen Distance
It’s now possible for iPhone and iPad devices to help us hold them at the proper distance from our eyes. In iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, a user can be notified if they hold their device at a distance closer than 12 inches for an extended amount of time. Reading at a distance closer than this is a known risk factor for Myopia.
Track Daylight Exposure
New in watchOS 10, it's now easy to monitor how much time we get outside. It’s recommended that children are exposed to sunlight for 80-120 minutes per day to help prevent Myopia, and the new ambient light sensor in Apple Watch allows for the data to be captured. As per the theme of this article, the data is available in, you guessed it, the Health app on iOS or iPadOS to interpret and track.
Physical Health & Wellness
Beyond the mental and vision health updates above, Apple introduced some other awesome updates that are worth a shout-out:
While the Medications feature of Health was added in a prior iOS version, the iOS 17 and now iPadOS 17 updates are super powerful. Users can configure a follow-up reminder to occur if they miss logging taking their medication. This can also be configured as a Critical Alert - so that the alert's sound overrides the device's mute switch. Something that was only previously reserved for specific app vendors with a special entitlement from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Relations team for their app. Now this is possible for something as simple, yet crucial, as taking medication.
A host of new user enhancements are available in Apple’s subscription workout offering. These include “Custom Plans” that tailor workout and meditation sessions, “Stacks” so a user can more easily link their sessions together; and “AudioFocus” to more easily bring attention to the trainer’s voice or background music.
Putting it all together
Health App for iPad
The Health app has been hinted at as the hub which centrally controls readings throughout this blog. But for any active iPhone user, this isn’t any secret. Health is the way to deep dive into your workout data from the Fitness app, sleep data from your Apple Watch or other third-party app data that you have elected to share.
On its 9th birthday, Apple Health takes a step forward with the long-awaited introduction of iPad support. This new app launches as part of iPadOS 17, and will securely sync a user’s health app with watchOS and iOS devices via iCloud. While this on its surface is a big deal - now offering users the iPad’s larger screen real estate to interact with their health data and refreshed look for favorites, trends and insights - the future implications may be even larger.
HealthKit - Apple’s open-source framework for developers to build apps that work with Apple Health - also makes this same transition. With third-party developers now able to integrate their iPad apps directly with Apple’s secure health ecosystem, new use cases and capabilities emerge for iPad applications to participate in Apple’s secure health information data exchange. While first introduced in 2014 on iOS 8, the ecosystem of Apple’s open-source APIs expanded in 2015 with ResearchKit and in 2016 with CareKit, which allowed third-party developers to build rich, native iOS apps for clinical trials and surveys. Later, remote care at home modalities allowed data collected by patients to be seamlessly shared back to their provider and care team through HealthKit integrations.
Some of these apps have existed for years and integrate with their own proprietary peripheral devices to record a user’s information back into their app’s platform (ex. a wireless blood pressure monitor). That said, those app developers were not able to write that information into a user’s HealthKit store from iPad directly. With this change, users and developers have a whole new world to explore. Of course, in typical Apple fashion, this is all built with security and privacy in mind and only the user who can share which apps can share (and read) their Health data.
While there is a lot to unpack, we hope this article helps surface what is most important: How technology can help us be better versions of ourselves. While Jamf is a software provider that makes IT management and security solutions for Apple and therefore helps our customers succeed with Apple, our purpose is to ensure people are empowered with their technology. And I for one can’t wait to start testing out the new features on my own journey to be a better me.
To ensure your organization is best positioned to embrace the latest from Apple, contact us today.
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