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Facebook challenges Apple and Samsung with new HealthKit

Google has embarked upon a mission to discover what constitutes a healthy person. Facebook may be able to provide some insight in this inquiry if a new report is to be believed.

Sources say that Facebook intends to enter into the health industry, a road that has already been traveled by major manufacturers Apple and Samsung. Facebook looks to start its entrance into the health field by providing online support communities for users who have various medical conditions, health complications, and so on.

In addition to these online support communities, Facebook also intends to create – yes, get ready for it! – health apps that will allow users to provide their health information that can then be uploaded to the social network site and shared with users, either publicly, privately or with a certain group.

The company has found that users are already willing to provide their health information online in various services, and that users share their health information from health apps on Facebook’s own network already.

The one hurdle Facebook will have to encounter in its quest to provide something of a social media health revolution concerns user privacy. It’s no secret that Facebook’s become something of a social “Big Brother” in recent days, with the company being under the gun for its social experiment on 700,000 users that wasn’t included in the company’s user data privacy policy before the experiment was conducted. Facebook has also become known for forcing users to give in to its Facebook Messenger app in order to send text messages to contacts. While users can still log in to Facebook via Chrome, Safari, or some other Web browser without losing texting capabilities, those who choose to use Facebook’s mobile core app are unable to text contacts from within the parent app from now on.

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Facebook’s already shown that, when the company wants to push its own agenda, it’ll force users into playing by its rules – such as denying texting capabilities within the core mobile Facebook app to force users to download Facebook Messenger and engage the service. Could it be the case that Facebook will stop allowing users to post health information from, say, S-Health, for example, to a status update within the core Facebook app – just to push users to download the new Facebook Health app (or an app that bears some other name)?

Another question worth asking with Facebook’s new health quest is the following: Will users trust Facebook with their health information? The company recently responded to its attack on the LGBT community by declaring that LGBT members are free to choose whatever name they decide under their personal profile (not necessarily the name they were given at birth), responding to outrage from the LGBT community after certain members’ accounts were declared in danger of termination if the users in question did not provide their birth identities.

Facebook Messenger for iOS tracks more private data than you expect

This reversal in policy has restored some users’ faith in Facebook, but the social experiment is still a sore one in the minds of many Facebook users who couldn’t see themselves providing their own personal health information – unless they could provide it anonymously.

Samsung’s S-Health app already features a social media aspect whereby users who engage Samsung’s S-Health app by way of their smartphone, Gear smartwatch collection (Gear 1, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Fit, upcoming Gear S) can share it via Facebook with network members.

Apple’s new HealthKit apps in iOS 8 will allow iOS users to record their health information such as blood pressure, glucose sugar levels, cholesterol, weight, etc., that can then be used by the individual in question to share with others or maintain for their own leisure pursuits. Apple’s already got several renown hospitals and clinics on its list that have decided to partner with Cupertino to have doctors on call in real health situations (hospitals such as Duke, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, the Mayo Clinic, and others).

Mobile companies have discovered a new revitalization with health as a new market in which mobile ads, apps, and applications can bring increased profits. In addition, health apps have become useful to consumers who use health apps to plan weight loss programs, or simply to document their exercise information for primary care providers, private doctors, and so on.

Facebook’s new health quest continues the company’s push to become more than just a downloadable mobile app on an operating system that belongs to Google, Apple, or Microsoft. The company has shown its hand with the failed HTC First/Facebook phone experiment that ended miserably with few sales. At the same time, however, the failed experiment shows Facebook’s ambition as a company that looks to carve out its own path in the mobile sector. With the new “health piece” intact, Facebook could be well on its way to making an Amazon Fire Phone-like announcement within the next few years.

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