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My month as a HealthKit patient

Marco Tabini | Feb. 13, 2015
I'm a sucker for data. At my day job, I get to help businesses collect and analyze all kinds of information--a process that often leads to transformative change on the way our clients operate.

Once you strip away all the gimmicks, the scale works remarkably well. Simply stepping on it starts it up and causes it to go through a cycle that measures all your vitals, lets you know whether you need an umbrella, and then immediately sends everything to your iPhone. Even better, the device can tell different people apart based on the data it collects from them, dispatching the resulting measurements to a different device automatically and making it the perfect family health companion.

The Body Analyzer is also quite accurate; I compared it against the doctor's own scale and they both came within a few ounces of each other. It's hard to say whether the body composition analysis and CO2 measurements work as well, but they are, in my opinion, much less important than providing you with a consistent picture of your weight over time.

The pressure is on

Compared to Withings' picture showcase, iHealth's pressure monitor comes with a nice manual that includes plenty of information and pictures. Unfortunately, these are a bit sparse when it comes to explaining the subtleties of properly positioning the wrist cuff when taking your blood pressure — a pretty common problem, at least judging by the device's online reviews.

Indeed, on my first try, the measurements were so high as to warrant a visit to the hospital — hardly an auspicious start. On account of the fact that my eyeballs weren't exploding, I decided to take a trip to YouTube instead, where I was able to find instructional videos that provided better guidance, and a few attempts later I was able to get reliable readings that did not involve calling 9-1-1.

Unlike the Body Analyzer, the BP7 will only connect to an iPhone over Bluetooth, which isn't a big deal, given that you need your iPhone to start the pressure measurements anyway. The problem is that the device can only pair with a single smartphone, which makes it impossible for two people — say, a husband and wife — to share it.

Once you've figured out the proper way to do it, taking your blood pressure is a pretty simple affair. The device even comes with a convenient sensor that helps you appropriately position your arm, and the resulting measurements are — at least in my wholly unscientific experiments — about as accurate as my doctor's own pressure-measuring unit.

The proof in the software

Of course, hardware is only half the story, and it's not until I started playing around with the health-centric software available for iOS that the frustrations began.

Both the Body Analyzer and BP7 come with their own apps, and I was a little dismayed that the two pieces of software insist on keeping their own copy of my measurements, rather than simply relying on the built-in HealthKit database. They all but required me to sign up for an account on their respective cloud services — where, undoubtedly, my personal information now resides.

 

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