Yesterday I was interviewed by a magazine on my thoughts on health and fitness iPhone Apps. There has been a huge surge in these apps, as a mobile phone lends it self well to activities of mobility, like exercising.
Smartphones in general are sophisticated tools. They have built in GPS, light sensors, microphones and gyroscopes. As a developer, using all of these can make awesome apps.
There are 3 types of health and fitness apps:
Lets a user track an activity in realtime and present a set of historical data. These style of apps have evolved, with Nike+ taking the lead. Essentially a user runs with the iPhone, the app enables GPS and tracks the distance, speed and incline of a run. Taking it a step further, Facebook integration allows other users to give you a cheer during your run, by liking your status update.
Apps that provide the user with knowledge in an interactive way. BrainyApp which we built is an example, it teaches the user that a healthy lifestyle can reduce your changes of getting Alzheimers Disease. It uses an interactive tracking system and engaging activities to re-enforce the message.
Basically give a user the tools to diagnose and track complex health issues. The Withings Bolod pressure monitor sold by Apple is a great example. Plug it into your iPhone, but the strap around your arm and test blood pressure and heart rate. The results are recorded and ready to send to the doctor.
Always remember to check on the source of the information in an App, especially when it comes to health. Anyone can build an App, so often the information included may not be accurate. Look for Apps that are associated with industry bodies or health organisations.