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An Apple a Day…

There has never been a shortage of health and fitness apps on the iTunes marketplace. However, there has never been one holistic app that you can go to, to help you keep track of all the areas of your health – like your weight, calories intake and workout, to name a few. The Health app is Apple’s attempt to bring these essential elements together in one comprehensive health application that you can access, view and, hopefully, control all the aspects of your health. While the Cupertino tech giant hasn’t quite managed to get everything right with the Health app, it is still very useful.

Touted as the next big thing before its launch, the Health App has had mixed response since it launched. Apple has been rather quiet about the app. This has led to speculations that the less-than-enthusiastic launch maybe because it’s primarily meant to work with the Apple Watch.

The health app will play a pivotal role in the success of the yet to début wearable gadget – the Apple watch. While it may not be ready for prime time yet, it’s still a handy app that brings together various elements of health under one console.

In this brief guide, we’re going to give you a few tips on how you can best use the Apple Health app in iOS 8.

Also Read: The Top 10 iOS 8 Tips Every Apple Fanboy Should Know

About Apple’s Health app

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The Health app is actually more of a data collection app than a data recorder app. For example, it won’t actually measure your blood pressure or your sleep cycles. Instead, you have to feed this data to it, manually or automatically, and it will keep track of your data for you. The Health app is capable of syncing with third-party health and fitness apps. It aims to provide all your relevant data in a single app instead of you having to use separate apps, like one app for fitness, another for your weight loss and a third to keep track of your blood pressure.

Since this is the first iteration of the app, it isn’t actually compatible with a lot of apps at the moment. However, expect this situation to change in the future as more developers get on board with making health and fitness apps Health compatible.

To find a list of all the apps that are compatible with the Health app, you can go to the “Apps for Health” section, under the “Health and Fitness” subsection in the iTunes store.  Some of the most popular apps compatible with it include Fitbit, MyFitness Pal, Web MD and Withings Health.

Setting Up Medical Aid and Emergency Contact Info

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The first thing you should do is set up medical aid and emergency contact information in the Health app. That way, if you ever happen to have an accident and your phone is with you, your emergency medical aid info (like things to watch out for – allergies and the like) and contact information will be displayed on the lock screen.

To set up medical aid information, go to Health app and tap edit your Medical ID. This is the screen you can fill in your Blood Type, Allergies, Medical Conditions and other data.

Setting up the Health App Dashboard

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The Health app has a dashboard that will display health and fitness data (metrics) from multiple sources. This is the most important part of the app – the screen where you’ll be spending most of your time. You can customize the data you see (how much or how little) however you want. It does get a little overwhelming if you add more than a dozen sources that write to the dashboard, though. We recommend you track only the most important aspects of your health, like weight, workout, calorie burn, blood pressure, distance traveled and the like.

At the moment, the Health app can natively only keep track of two aspects of your fitness: Flights Climbed and Steps. To have other aspects tracked, you will need to connect third-party apps to it. To turn on the Flights Climbed and Steps tracking feature, navigate to “Health Data” in your app. Here, go to the “Fitness” tab and turn on the “Show on Dashboard” feature. These two features will be now be visible on your dashboard.

See Also: Get More Out of Your iPhone and iPad with These Handy iOS 8 Shortcuts

Setting up Other Apps to Write and Read to the Health App

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The USP of the Health app is that it syncs with other health and fitness apps. Theoretically, it is supposed to act as a central medium between multiple apps.

To sync other apps with the Health app, go to the “Sources” section in the Health app. Here, you will see a list of apps that are capable of syncing with the Health app (if you have them installed). You can individually edit read and write permissions for apps here. If you allow write permissions, your Health app will be able to receive data. If you have a blood pressure app installed, for instance, that app will now be able to share your blood pressure with your Health app. You can set this information to appear on the dashboard.

The read permissions will let other apps read data from the Health app and use it to better track your health. A fitness app and a weight loss app will be able to exchange data with each other, through the Health app, and tell you how much weight you lost because of your workout, for example. Connect multiple apps for best results.

Recommended Reading: Efficient Typing: 5 Great Custom Keyboards for iOS

Final Thoughts

The Apple Health app is by no means a finished product. It lacks many necessary features, like an ability to export the data to a spreadsheet program, better health explanations from the data on the dashboard or a password protection feature. You can also feed it a limited amount of medical data – it can track dietary cholesterol but not blood cholesterol – as it hasn’t been developed enough yet.

We still think it’s a pretty useful app, though. As more apps become compatible with it and Apple makes some necessary revisions to it, we think it may one day become an app no one will be able to do without.