Apple told us at WWDC 2014 that it would introduce Health and HealthKit into iOS 8, so it’s on the way. At the same time, however, a number of issues surrounding these two new iOS apps and what they can (and can’t) do must be worked out before iOS 8 is released to the public. One such issue, up until this past week, involved the use of user data information collected via the Health and HealthKit apps.
These two apps are responsible for monitoring your health information (blood pressure, sugar level, hydration, calories, exercise, etc.) and then sharing it with HealthKit (that will likely be used to alert your doctor in the event that you’re a diabetes patient and your glucose sugar level is too high, for example). Since Apple’s been opening up iOS and providing more of an open-source experience (don’t take this to mean it’s the equivalent of Google’s Android experience, however), Apple is now allowing apps to talk to one another so that information in one app can be accessed by another.
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It seems to be the case that, if Apple is forbidding this from developers, it must either 1) be a fear of Apple’s or 2) developers could potentially do this. Apple’s updated policy with Health and HealthKit is interesting, considering that Google just blocked Disconnect Mobile’s app this week because it blocked developers from gaining access to user data that wasn’t approved by app users.
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What this goes to show is that Apple won’t tolerate problems with user data and that the company wants that to be known from the outset. Developers often seek to make money as well (since, on iOS, most apps available for download are free), and most developers (with the exception of the most successful) don’t make much money from their apps. Selling user data would be a way for iOS developers to make extra profit that they don’t make from apps.
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Apple is committed to user data privacy, such that, even with allowing apps to communicate back and forth, the company won’t allow user data to be abused and sold. This is a good measure for Apple, particularly since China has been worried in recent weeks about the privacy of user data on iDevices. It is our hope that Apple developers take notice and follow accordingly.