When Apple first debuted its health and fitness data aggregation platform, HealthKit, at its developer conference back in June, we assumed that the iOS8 feature would be a preloaded app on all future iOS devices -- as well as those that upgrade to the new OS. And while Apple's plan for HealthKit seems to include an ever expanding list of integrations with health-related apps and devices, there's one device the company has explicitly excluded from the HealthKit ecosystem: its own iPad.
"The HealthKit framework provides a structure that apps can use to share health and fitness data," Apple's developer framework explains. "HealthKit is designed to manage data from a wide range of sources, automatically merging the data from all the different sources based on users’ preferences. Apps can also access the raw data for each source and let the app perform its own merging... HealthKit also provides an app to help manage the user’s health data. The Health app acts as the user’s interface to the HealthKit data. Users can view, add, delete, and otherwise manage all of their health and fitness data using this app. They can also edit the sharing permissions for each data type."
The overview sections for HealthKit's framework ends with this:"Both HealthKit and the Health app are unavailable on iPad. The HealthKit framework cannot be used in an app extension."
Apple's Health app leverages the iPhone's embedded motion sensing chip to passively track steps -- a chip iPads don't have. HealthKit can also integrate data from select Bluetooth LE-enabled heart monitors directly, while most other devices need to feed their collected data into HealthKit via their app.
iPads aren't going to be the leading form factor choice for feeding real-time heart rate data from a wearable, and Apple's decision to not include a passive activity tracking feature on the iPad is an understandable one. Apple's Health app, however, is mostly a dashboard that displays a variety of collected health data points and associated trend lines. That sort of user experience seems like an obvious fit for the iPad's larger screen.
The iPad could have also been a HealthKit access point for Android smartphone-toting patients at healthcare systems integrating their patient portals with Apple's Health.