Apple® announced new health features in iOS 17, iPadOS® 17, and watchOS® 10, expanding into two impactful areas and providing innovative tools and experiences across platforms.
New mental health features allow users to log their momentary emotions and daily moods, see valuable insights, and easily access assessments and resources. iPhone®, iPad®, and Apple Watch® offer new vision health features that encourage healthy behaviors that help reduce the risk of myopia, and the Health app comes to iPad, giving users new ways to see their health data. All of these new features — and existing health features — are grounded in science and built with privacy at the core.
“Our goal is to empower people to take charge of their own health journey. With these innovative new features, we’re expanding the comprehensive range of health and wellness tools that we offer our users across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch,” said Sumbul Desai, M.D., Apple’s vice president of Health. “Mental health and vision health are important, but often overlooked, and we’re excited to introduce features that offer valuable new insights to provide users with an even better understanding of their health. These insights help support users in their daily decisions and offer more informed conversations with their doctors.”
Mental health is as important as physical health and affects people every day in how they think, feel, and act.
Research shows that reflecting on one’s own mental state can help build emotional awareness and resilience. According to Dr. Michelle Craske, a distinguished professor of psychology and psychiatry at UCLA, who echoes many in the field, “Identifying our feelings has been shown to help us manage difficult emotions, appreciate positive moments, and improve wellbeing.” Multiple studies by researchers have shown that identifying feelings reduces emotions like sadness and anger, and positively impacts our body by slowing our heart rate. Additionally, in a survey of participants in the UCLA Digital Mental Health Study, initial results showed more than 80 percent of participants found reflecting on their mood in the study app increased emotional awareness, and about half said it increased wellbeing.
The Health app in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, and the Mindfulness app in watchOS 10, bring an engaging and intuitive way for users to reflect on their state of mind. Users can scroll through engaging, multidimensional shapes and choose how they are feeling in a range from Very Pleasant to Very Unpleasant. Then, they can select associations that are having the biggest impact on their feelings, like Travel or Family, and describe their feelings, such as Grateful or Worried.
In the Health app, users can see valuable insights to identify what might be contributing to their state of mind — whether it’s associations or lifestyle factors, such as sleep or exercise — and can use these insights to better manage their overall health.
There may be times when users can benefit from additional support. In a recent survey, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults said they have experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression.1 The same depression and anxiety assessments often used in clinics are now easily accessible in the Health app and can be taken anytime. These assessments can help users determine their risk level, connect to resources available in their region, and create a PDF to share with their doctor.
These new features enable iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users across the world to better care for their mental health, and in doing so, help raise awareness and acceptance for this important topic.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the leading cause of vision impairment globally. It’s estimated to affect over 30 percent of the population currently2 and expected to grow to 50 percent, or 5 billion people,3 by 2050.
Eye care providers recommend a few key behaviors in children to help reduce the risk of myopia. Two of these behaviors are spending more time outdoors in daylight and increasing the distance at which they view something like a device or a book.
The International Myopia Institute recommends children spend at least 80-120 minutes a day outdoors. With watchOS 10, Apple Watch introduces the ability to measure time spent in daylight using the ambient light sensor. Users can view the amount of time spent in daylight detected by their Apple Watch in the Health app in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17. Children who do not have their own iPhone can use Family Setup to pair their Apple Watch to their parent’s iPhone, giving parents visibility into the amount of time their kids are spending in daylight with Health Sharing. Time spent in daylight can provide additional benefits to physical and mental health, so this feature is available to all watchOS 10 users.
Viewing something like a device or a book at too close of a distance is also a well-documented myopia risk factor. The new Screen Distance feature uses the same TrueDepth® camera that powers Face ID® on iPhone and iPad to encourage users to move their device farther away after holding it closer than 12 inches for an extended period of time. Screen Distance can remind younger users to engage in healthy viewing habits that can lower their risk of myopia, and it gives adult users the opportunity to reduce digital eyestrain.
The Health App Comes to iPad
The Health app is a central, secure, and private place for a user’s health and fitness information, and it provides users with meaningful insights to live a healthier life. In iPadOS 17, the Health app comes to iPad and has been designed to give users rich detail at a glance so they can see information from iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch, as well as compatible third-party apps and devices, all in one place.
Now users can track and manage their medications, use Cycle Tracking, log their momentary emotions and daily moods, view their available health records from multiple institutions, and more directly on iPad. They can also choose to share data stored in the Health app with loved ones or caregivers using Health Sharing. On iPad, the design of the Health app is optimized for the large display, with a new look for Favorites and detailed interactive charts. Users can receive insights into their health data with Trends and Highlights, and use iPadOS features like Split View to multitask with other apps while they view their health data.
Health and fitness developers can now use HealthKit® on iPad, opening up new opportunities to create innovative health and fitness experiences that incorporate data users choose to share from the Health app, with rigorous privacy and data security protocols.
Privacy is fundamental in the design and development across all of Apple’s health features. Apple’s health and fitness features put users’ privacy at the center and provide them with protections, including transparency and control.
When iPhone and iPad are locked with a passcode, Touch ID®, or Face ID, all health and fitness data in the Health app — other than Medical ID — is encrypted on device. Additionally, health data synced to iCloud® is encrypted both in transit and on Apple servers. And if a user has a recent version4 of watchOS, iOS, and iPadOS with the default two-factor authentication and a passcode, their health and activity data will be stored in a way that Apple can’t read it.
Data in the Health app is never shared with any third party without the user’s explicit permission, and if users decide to share their health data, the Health app provides users with granular control over the types of data they share and who they share it with. They can review and manage permissions at any time.
- With iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10, the Medications feature gives users the option to receive follow-up reminders if they haven’t logged taking a scheduled medication. Users can also make reminders as critical alerts, which allows them to come through even if a device is muted or has Focus enabled.
- The new Journal app on iOS 17 gives users a way to reflect and practice gratitude through writing about and remembering life’s moments. It leverages the new Journaling Suggestions API to offer a personalized set of moments to write about, using on-device machine learning. Suggested moments are intelligently curated from a user’s recent activity, including photos, people, places, workouts, and more, making it easy to get started.5
- Apple Fitness+℠ introduces Custom Plans, a new way to receive a custom workout or meditation schedule based on day, duration, workout type, and more; Stacks, which allows users to select multiple workouts and meditations to do seamlessly back to back; and Audio Focus, which gives users the ability to prioritize the volume of the music or the trainers’ voices.
The developer beta of iOS 17 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available next month at beta.apple.com. New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone Xs and later. For more information, visit apple.com/ios/ios-17-preview. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Indicators of Anxiety or Depression Based on Reported Frequency of Symptoms,” April 26-May 8, 2023, www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/pulse/mental-health.htm.
2 World Health Organization, “World report on vision,” October 2019, www.who.int/news/item/08-10-2019-who-launches-first-world-report-on-vision.
3 Brien A. Holden, Timothy R. Fricke, David A. Wilson, Monica Jong, Kovin S. Naidoo, Padmaja Sankaridurg, Tien Y. Wong, Thomas J. Naduvilath, Serge Resnikoff, “Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050,” Ophthalmology, Volume 123, Issue 5, 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161642016000257.
4 “Recent version” refers to iOS 12 or later.
5 The Journal app and Journaling Suggestions API will be available in a software update later this year.