Screen-shots obtained by 9to5Mac.com show features dedicated to tracking everything from basic body weight to blood sugar and oxygen saturation. Some details remain vague, but the screen-shots present proof that the much-rumored Healthbook project is on the way, reputed 9to5Mac reporter Mark Gurman wrote.
The app includes fitness trackers akin to existing devices, monitoring steps taken and calories burned over time, but the more in-depth sections distinguish the app from typical consumer devices.
Healthbook begins delving into patient data with heart rate and blood pressure tracking, but really gets deep with blood monitoring features, including trackers for blood sugar, bloodwork and oxygen saturation.
Oxygen saturation systems are a specialty of new Apple hire Michael O’Reilly, who was previously chief medical officer of pulse oximetry systems maker Masimo (NSDQ:MASI). Masimo in December 2012 unveiled its 1st iPhone-compatible pulse oximeter. Those types of devices can also be used to measure respiration, which Apple appears to be examining as well.
Apple is also looking to take a swing at iPhone diabetes management, which may spell bad news for the hundreds of blood glucose and diabetes management apps on the market already. Most of the available apps, some free and some upwards of $10, don’t appear to connect directly with blood glucose meters but instead rely on manual entry of readings. It’s not clear how Apple would approach data collection.
Gurman speculated that the iPhone program may collect information through another much-rumored technology: the iWatch. The phones themselves have basic pedometer functionality and can calculate calories burned, but complementary devices will be needed to track blood and other biomarkers.
The iPhone may take a cue from its existing "Passbook" app, which simply collects data from other apps, Gurman said. They may take a page from rival technology giant Samsung (LON:BC94), which built a heart rate sensor directly into its new Galaxy S5 smartphone.
Both tech giants will have to be careful how much technology they integrate directly into their phones. Samsung recently wriggled out of a small snag with South Korea, where current laws brand the Galaxy S5 a medical device that would normally be required to undergo formal review before hitting the market. South Korean healthcare regulators opted to revise the language of the law to differentiate medical sensors from "leisure" devices.
Samsung is also working on its own Gear smartwatch, which features heart rate sensors and the company’s FDA-cleared S Health app.