Apple asks permission in Health app to anonymously collect workout data for improvements

in Apple Watch edited December 2016
As part of an initiative to improve the data collection process, and gauge future needs, Apple is asking users to opt into anonymous data collection about workouts and activity information.

A new dialog box implemented in the Health app is asking users if they wish to share this data, which includes activity data such as stand hours and exercise minutes, if other fitness apps are installed, a user's approximate location, and how long the Apple Watch has been used.

Apple notes that the data will not be used for any other reason than to assist Apple to "improve and understand the effectiveness of health and fitness features on Apple devices." No personally identifiable information will be sent.

The notification is similar to one users can get in conjunction with a ResearchKit study -- but that one also notes that data will be shared with research partners, and may or may not include personally identifiable data, in accordance with the research agreements.

"This isn't any different than what we do with crash reports on macOS, really, and not at all sinister," we were told by a source within Apple. "If we find that a high percentage of users are, say, playing ultimate frisbee at 2 a.m., we'll do some focused work on that, like we did for wheelchair users."

The Health application was launched in iOS 8, and aims to become a centralized repository for all of a user's health information, whether input manually or automatically collected through third-party iPhone accessories and the Apple Watch.

With Apple's Health app, and HealthKit, Users can configure emergency contact information, register to become an organ donor, track reproductive health conditions, log UV exposure, and much more.


  • Reply 1 of 5
    Nothing to see here, move along. 

    If there's anyone I'd give permission to use that type of data, it'd be Apple. 
  • Reply 2 of 5
    Standard response to any app asking for this is no. You give me the control and I will say no.
  • Reply 3 of 5
    Until Apple proves itself unworthy, I will okay such requests. More data shortens the path to better products and improved performance. In the case of Health, improved performance means longer and better lives for users.

    GeorgeBMacapple jockeywatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 5
    A fanboy for years, only got round to an iPhone this spring.  Got my SE to finally go from phone + pocket camera to 1 device.  Total success.  And though I've been gradually losing weight, regaining younger levels of fitness since retiring over a decade ago - Essey is a "bully" who keeps me on a nice nerdy path to even more.  So, average walk is 1/2 mph quicker, distance avg up 50%, weight loss this year triple the usual.

    Feel good, enjoying the ability to oversee everything from calories to pace.  Apple makes it easy.  If and when 2-lens camera comes available, I'll get a new SE.
  • Reply 5 of 5
    I'm glad to see Apple venturing out of its own geeky little nirvana into the real world of real people.

    Their initial foray into health was led and dominated by standard medical/health industry guru's -- who only understand disease treatment rather than health promotion.

    then, with Apple Watch Series 2 they expanded a bit into the world of mainstream exercisers when they brought Nike on board...

    But, by collecting actual information from actual users, they are starting to look at real people in the real world.   Good for you Apple!   I hope you keep an open mind rather than try to shoe-horn your collected data into some preconceived box.   The world will be a better place if you do!
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