While Apple packed iOS 8 with plenty of awesome new features, one was notably missing on launch day. A snafu in Apple’s HealthKit, a developer tool that consolidates health and fitness app data into a single location on your iOS device, meant that a number of apps and updates didn’t land as planned.
Apps including MyFitnessPal, WebMD, and Carrot Fit launched in the App Store but were then quickly pulled. After initial confusion, both among developers and iOS users, Apple clarified the issue in a statement.
“We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today,” an Apple spokesperson said. “We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.”
Developers of health and fitness-tracking apps have been keen to tie into HealthKit since it was first announced at WWDC in June. Up until now, while apps could pull activity data and health stats from the iPhone’s motion coprocessor chip or third party Bluetooth devices, each app had to do so individually, confined to their own walled gardens. With HealthKit, developers can tap into data previously limited to other apps, and users can see all of their fitness data in one place: iOS 8′s Health app.
“We really believe that HealthKit has the potential to transform how people look after their health,” Peter Hames, co-founder of the new sleep tracking app Sleepio told WIRED.
Sleepio uses the theories behind cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you improve your sleep by teaching you techniques to manage insomnia, based on whatever issues you’re currently experiencing. The app uses an animated virtual character, The Prof, to address moment by moment changes in your sleep needs through talk therapy. Previously, Sleepio would only be able to use data gathered from the iPhone, its own hardware, or information entered by the user. With HealthKit, it can tap into data captured not only by your iOS device, but from multiple sources including Fitbits and the Jawbone Up. But with HealthKit a no-go, Sleepio had to quickly rejigger its app over the past few days so that it no longer ties into HealthKit and only sources sleep tracking statistics from one place, the Up.
For many such HealthKit-hopeful apps, removing integration wasn’t too arduous of a task. A good developer practice is to keep things modular, so if one thing breaks (like HealthKit integration) the whole app doesn’t collapse in shambles.
Strava, which uses your mobile device’s GPS and accelerometer (and third party accessories) to track activities like running and cycling, also hoped to tie into HealthKit. Less than 24 hours after learning the news from Apple, Strava’s developers were able to retool their app without HealthKit so that they could still have an iOS 8-ready app in the App Store.
But for folks hoping to get the most out of their new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, or heck, even a 5 or 5s with iOS 8, it’s a disappointment to have to wait on yet another key feature to ship (Continuity, which lets you hand-off SMS and MMS messages between devices, won’t officially be available until October). It also raises questions about whether Apple will be capable of delivering on the promises of its health-focused Apple Watch when it comes to market early next year. For the latter at least, Apple’s got time on its side to iron out software issues before its nebulous early 2015 launch. But as for quantified-selfing HealthKit fans, they’ll just have to wait a bit longer.