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What is CareKit: Complete guide to Apple's medical app framework

David Price | May 10, 2016
Here's what CareKit is, what it means for both app developers and iPhone and Apple Watch owners, and why it matters

"We believe that giving individuals the tools to understand what is happening with their health is incredibly powerful, and apps designed using CareKit make this a reality by empowering people to take a more active role in their care."

Complete guide to CareKit: What about data privacy?

Potentially troubling; enabling personal data to be shared between apps and with other people is a worry in itself, but the data we're talking about here can be exceptionally sensitive.

Those suffering depression, for example - which still, wrongly, carries a social stigma in many circles - may be mortified to have that information enter the public sphere; those applying for a job or an insurance policy may suffer materially from the leaking of medical details; and grave distress could be caused if relatives inadvertently stumble across news of a life-threatening condition that was being withheld until an appropriate moment.

This being Apple, we would argue that data privacy is likely to be well handled - even though the company has not been immune to data leaks in the past. Nevertheless Apple's recent stand against the FBI makes us confident in saying that the company's intentions in this area are sound.

It does, however, raise the stakes of any future battles Apple fights with governmental or law enforcement bodies eager to gain access to iPhone data. Apple appears to have beaten the FBI this time; are you confident it will do so in the future?

Complete guide to CareKit: CareKit apps

Complete guide to CareKit: What does CareKit mean for developers?

Devs will be able to use CareKit - which is open-source - to build medically focused apps for the iPhone and Apple Watch.

CareKit is based around four modules: Care Card, which tracks an individual's care plan and 'action items', such as medicine or physical exercise; Symptom and Measurement Tracker, which records symptoms, temperature measurements etc; Insight Dashboard, which combines the data from the first two modules so you can tell if treatments are working; and Connect, for sharing data with doctors and family members.

But, because CareKit is open-source, devs should be able to build extensively from Apple's starting point.

Apple has announced that CareKit will be available to developers worldwide "starting in spring 2016" - and in a separate release was more specific in pledging that it would be released as an open-source framework in April 2016. But it's clear (based on the 'coming soon' apps listed on the CareKit web page) that a more select group of app developers have begun working with the framework already.

If you're an app developer and you want to use CareKit, get in touch with Apple (using the email address carekit@apple.com) and try your hand.

 

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