A Rundown of iPhone Health Apps

Out of the bounty of new apps for the iPhone, I was pleased to see a couple dozen focused on health & fitness. To me, the potential here is this: Combine a device that's easy to use and portable with the growing trend of life-logging. The result, I hope, would be several apps that let us track our health, quantatively, and log progress and data (basically, the idea would be not unlike the Virgin HealthMiles product I blogged about recently).

So here's my cursory rundown of the new iPhone apps that look most promising.

Diet & Nutrition

  • Lots of calorie counting apps here, from Lupi's Diet, a reference for calorie content of 7000+ foods ($4.99), to free BMI calculators.
  • My favorites include: Nutrition, a log of offical nutritional information for a dozen or more fast food outlets from McDonalds to Chili's, that links with maps, too (Free!).
  • iCalorie tracks calories consumed by meal, as well as calories expended by exercise. It also logs weight, creating a basic diet tool. ($4.99)
  • Calculate Points ($4.99) is a Weight Watcher compatible points tracker. Useless unless you're in WW, jus the sort of closed system that the iPhone-type tracking should free us from, no?
  • Absolute Fitness ($14.99) is a souped-up diet tracker and reference. It has nuritional content for 7000+ foods, and automatically calculates dietary goals based on your profile and targets. It also works the data nerd angle pretty well, offering graphs and charts of your progress.
  • (Unfortunately the promising-looking Fit, which let you track daily calorie intake versus calories burned, shipped a buggy product.)

Fitness

  • Most of the apps here are from the GoLearn brand, from Whagaa software.
  • The GoLearn apps are all about training, and though they offer some in the way of tracking, it's mostly advice videos. They start at $9.99 and seem pretty much aimed at the novice.
  • The Athlete's Calculator calculates time, distance, and pace for a variety of sports, from cycling to running to swimming (but don't wear it in the pool, I assume). It can also calculate splits. Pretty rudimentary for $6.99.
  • Steps is just the sort of simple widgety app the iPhone is made for: It uses the device motion sensor in the iPhone to act as a pedometer, and calculates your number of strides based on your height and weight. It tracks distance, speed, calories burned. And it's only $1.99.

Medicine/Medical Records

In addition to a couple pregnancy calculators (the Wheel for $14.99 and Birth Buddy for $4.99), these mostly fall in as health records tools - LifeRecord - or electronic emergency cards - EmergenKey ($1.99) ICE ($.99) and Emergency Card ($2.99). The personal health record tools look cool - you can store MRIs and other image files - but I wonder how compatible they are with Google Health or any other PHR out there (I imagine not at all). The emergency cards seem like a good idea, but fatally flawed: You really want to count of a EMT to find your iPhone, then click on the right app to find your health info? Seems unlikely to me.

But two nifty apps here:

  • Quitter is a free app that simply tracks how many days since your last cigarette and calculates how much money you've saved by not smoking. Nothing fancy, but every little reminder helps...
  • Kenkou uses the Japanese term for "health" (they say) to name their nifty app that will appeal to all the life loggers out there. It tracks your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, mood, cholesterol, and other health metrics. No it doesn't actually measure these datapoints, but simply by logging them, it will let users think about their health as a portfolio of numbers and data points. At $4.99, it's definitely something I'm gonna be playing around with.