Health App/Kit: failing to solve a problem that has already been solved

Data in MyFitnessPal vs data in Health: completely wrong and partially missing

Data in MyFitnessPal vs data in Health: completely wrong and partially missing

I’ve been excited by the announcement of the Health app and the accompanying Healthkit by Apple. I considered them to be both a way to bring more focus on interoperability between apps, as well as (for the app part) show software developers what can be done with access to fitness/health data. The result so far is disappointing.

The whole initiative doesn’t seem to be much more than offering a layer for exchanging data. The Health app itself is extremely basic, to the point of that it would be better for Apple to call it either a demo for developers or just a way for the average user to confirm that data are being exchanged correctly. This isn’t an app that you would use every day.

Beyond the settings of handling what each third-party app can provide and access, Health offers a series of line charts but not even combined ones (e.g. weight vs steps). And that’s it. There is no edit or export function (that one could come up with in a 5-min brainstorming session) for example. Obviously, this is by design, for unknown reasons.

As for HealthKit, the underlying layer connecting third-party apps, I start to wonder if there is any point to it. All major players in the fitness apps world are giving some sort of access to user data. To illustrate, here is a list of my current syncing settings between apps (yes, I probably use too many fitness apps)
1) Garmin Connect sends data to RunKeeper and Strava through the lovely Tapiriik (it can also connect to more platforms)
2) Garmin Connect also sends run data to FitBit via FitDataSync
3) MyFitnessPal sends food data to both FitBit and Garmin via integrated features of the platforms themselves. FitBit also sends weight data to MFP which in turns feeds it to Garmin.
4) Just as a test, this morning I started trying the updated Jawbone UP app which doesn’t require the UP band but instead gets data from RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal (and many other apps)

Of course, these syncing features are not always perfect, but the same is true for the HealthKit platform. At least MyFitnessPal which I’ve connected with Health for the past week has serious issues, either doing strange adjustments on my weight (I suspect due to converting to from kilos to pounds and back) or erasing food data older than 2 days (a new version promising a fix has come out today).

At best, let’s call the whole thing a beta or a developer’s preview and hope for something better in the future (not what Apple is all about though). Meanwhile, it’s fun to notice that the second more requested feature ( in the official FitBit community is HealthKit integration, with lots of people furious that Fitbit has yet to confirm if they are actually planning to add such a feature.

That said, if you have found a useful case of HealthKit integration, if it solved a problem for you, let me know in the comments. :)

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