Apple Gave Health-Tracking Startup IHealth An 'Informal Handholding' In Its First Months

One of the biggest trends emerging in tech today is the category known as “wearables” — devices that you can have on your wrist or arm that keep track of things like fitness or vital signs like blood pressure.

Last week, 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple is looking at taking a major step into this space with a new app called “Healthbook.”

Healthbook will let users track and organise data pertaining to blood work, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, physical activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and weight.

Last year’s iPhone 5S introduced the M7 motion co-processor, which adds activity-tracking capability similar to that in Nike’s FuelBand or Fitbit’s wristbands to Apple’s flagship phone. And Apple already sells a number of health-related sensors on its online store that would be capable of measuring the kind of data Healthbook is rumoured to track.

But what many may not realise is that Apple played a big part in some of those devices’ development.

In an interview last week, Adam Lin, the president of iHealth — which specialises in wearables that help manage high blood pressure and diabetes — told Business Insider that Apple gave the company an “informal handholding” in its early months (it has only been a company for three years now).

Though iHealth was a startup within a larger company — Andon Health Co, a Chinese manufacturer of health monitors — Apple saw iHealth’s early sensors and decided to offer guidance throughout the development of its first product and app.

That included meetings at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters where Apple would point out where iHealth’s hardware and software design could be improved. The company also got a boost because almost an entire section of Apple’s site is exclusive to showing off its hardware. (Not to mention the “i” prefix that Apple products have come to be known for.)

The fact that Apple has been working on health- and wellness-focused devices as accessories for the iPhone for approximately three years is quite a surprise: many of the big-name hires Apple has made for its rumoured “iWatch” (which is supposed to be stuffed with sensors monitoring things like blood pressure and even the quality of your sleep) took place in summer or late 2013.

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