Apple nails Health timing as fitness app usage soars

Analytics firm Flurry cites 62% increase in health and fitness app usage in the last six months

Apple may have kicked off its health and fitness emphasis in iOS 8 at just the right time, mobile analytics firm Flurry suggested today.

In the last six months, Flurry has tracked a 62% increase in usage of more than 6,800 iPhone and iPad apps in the firm's health and fitness category. Flurry tallied user sessions with apps over that stretch to come up with its findings.

"The growth in ... usage has been stunning," said Simon Khalaf, Flurry's CEO, in post to his company's blog.

Health and fitness app usage has climbed significantly faster than mobile app usage overall, which has increased by 33% in the last six months, said Khalaf. That was a turnaround from 2013, when total daily app usage increased by 115% but the health and fitness category grew by only 49%.

Apple's timing -- and that of rival Google, which will reportedly announce a push into health and fitness next week at its annual developers conference -- couldn't be better, Flurry's data hinted.

Earlier this month, Apple used its developers confab to tout HealthKit, a set of new APIs (application programming interfaces) in iOS 8 that will let third-party developers share their apps' data with Apple's upcoming Health app.

That app, which will come pre-installed as part of iOS 8, will accept data from other apps, then craft easy-to-understand charts and graphs in a dashboard, as well as collate all opt-in health data to create a medical history of the user. All data fed to Health will be encrypted.

Along with HomeKit, another set of APIs aimed at home automation hardware makers, Health and HealthKit were among the bigger additions to iOS 8 unveiled at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) on June 2.

Flurry credited the increase in health and fitness app usage to the corresponding rise in sales of accessories -- Apple sells a range of those devices in its online and brick-and-mortar stores -- and a trend toward tighter integration with social networks, especially Facebook.

The analytics company also said that rapid increases in app usage spoke to the rumors of an Apple-made wearable, often dubbed iWatch by wags. Most analysts believe that if Apple does launch a wrist wearable this year, it will initially focus on health and fitness.

"It looks like Apple has an interesting segment to go after leading into the holidays," said Khalaf.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Apple nails Health timing as fitness app usage soars" was originally published by Computerworld.

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