The iOS 8 Reviewby Brandon Chester on September 17, 2014 1:00 PM EST
Talking about the Health app in iOS 8 is difficult. Much like extensibility, what Health enables depends greatly on developer support that doesn't exist yet with iOS 8 being newly released. What can be explained right now is how it will work and what features it offers beyond being a simple aggregator of a user's health information.
At its core, Apple's Health app is a hub for keeping track of the health information from several different apps and devices. It will be able to sync data with health applications from other developers that use Apple's HealthKit framework. Many of these applications rely on data input by the user, but applications that integrate with fitness devices like the Nike FuelBand can also automatically send information that the device tracks to the Health application.
The Health app consists of four main screens. The dashboard is a user customizable section that displays cards with information about various health statistics. These cards display the information in a graph, with buttons at the top of the page to change the scale of the graph's horizontal axis.
The Health Data screen contains all the possible health information categories that the app keeps track of. You can search by a certain category such as body measurements, or you can view a list with all the various different types of information. Data points for a category can be added manually or sourced from applications that the user gives the Health app permission to access. Other applications for tracking health information can also request access to the information stored in Apple's Health app.
The Sources section contains a list of all applications that are allowed to access and update the information stored in the Health app. Once developers start to hook into the Health app using Apple's HealthKit framework, the Health app will become an area where a user can view all the information from various different health focused applications in a single place.
Medical ID is a new feature in iOS 8 where users can create a section that displays their personal and medical information. It's integrated into the Health app and it has sections for various information like Medical Conditions, Emergency Contacts, Blood Type, Allergies, Medications, and Organ Donor status. These are all things that would be of immense value to emergency workers when helping a person who is unable to give the information themselves. Medical ID can be made accessible via the emergency dialer so it can be viewed even on devices that have a passcode enabled.
I've personally been in situations where I was unable to give information like medications and allergies to emergency services about another person who needed immediate assistance. If you have any conditions that might be important, I encourage you to fill out the Medical ID and enable lockscreen access so paramedics or doctors can access it if they need to. It could save your life someday. What's unfortunate is that this is an Apple service for iOS, as it's something that could really be helpful if it was on every device. There's also some privacy concerns (e.g. anyone with access to your phone could view this information), but as always you have to decide which is more important.
The Health app is also an iPhone only application. I know of many elderly people who own iPads but do not own iPhones. I think Apple should bring the Health app over to iPad, or at the very least the Medical ID feature, as the elderly are a segment of the population that could benefit most from it.