Insulin delivery, workout routes, and more added to Apple HealthKit

By Jonah Comstock
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While it may or may not be working on a secret glucose wearable, Apple has definitely upgraded its HealthKit app framework to provide more tracking options for people with diabetes. In addition, the company made some other upgrades to both the HealthKit and ResearchKit frameworks. Apple engineers shared these updates at WWDC earlier this month.

“Our users love using Apple products to help manage their condition,” software engineer Michael Ozeryansky said in a presentation. “Today in HealthKit we have support for tracking blood glucose samples, keeping track of carbohydrates and tracking all kinds of activity data, which is all useful in managing diabetes. We've heard there's some missing pieces to the story and I'm pleased to announce that we've added some new additional features to help out. First, we added the ability to track the relative mealtime to a blood glucose sample. Next, we added the ability to track insulin delivery.”

The first update is fairly minor, but it allows developers to include preprandial and postprandial glucose as different fields. Insulin delivery, however, is a big addition and one that shows that Apple is interested in being involved in “closed loop” diabetes interventions that include both glucose tracking and insulin dosing. HealthKit will track both basal and bolus insulin in units.

On the main stage on WWDC, it was also announced that Dexcom will take advantage of the Apple Watch’s native Bluetooth to allow users of Dexcom’s CGM to access their blood glucose data directly from the Watch, even if they’ve left their phone at home.

In addition, Apple has added workout route, waist circumference, and VO2 Max to HealthKit, and can also track different types of workouts including tai chi and mixed cardio. Workout routes allow users to track not just vitals from their run, but also where they went.

Another update makes it easier for Apple to detect duplicate data when users are tracking with multiple devices, for instance a Watch and a phone. The feature, called Sync Identifiers, allows developers to tag certain data sets so that the Health app doesn’t count them twice.

Apple ResearchKit has also added a number of new tests into the framework, many of them created or suggested by users.

The company upgraded its tone audiometry test so it can test hearing in each ear and added the Stroop Test, which tests mental processing; the Trail Making Test, which looks at visual attention and task-switching; and new range of motion tests for the shoulder and knee that use the phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope. The company is also making it easier to add instructional videos into ResearchKit apps.