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When it comes to Apple we’re used to ground breaking new features such as their unparalleled face recognition, App Clips or their unique App Tracking Transparency. Soon we can possibly add a new item to that list: Apple Mental Health Tracking. But what is it? How does it work? And what can we expect?
Apple is reportedly working on new technologies and algorithms that detect conditions like depression, anxiety and cognitive decline in an early stage by analyzing user data on mobility, physical activity, sleep patterns, typing behavior and maybe even things like changes in your facial expression. Over the past years Apple partnered up with universities and pharma companies to study the collection of biomarkers of mental illness by digital tools - and the results could come in anytime.
Apple’s mental health tracking is mostly associated with their smartwatches. And rightly so, because the Silicon Valley giant has stepped beyond step counting and checking heart rate a long time ago by allowing wearers to already track their sleep, record their menstrual cycle or start a mindfulness session. Now Apple shifts its focus onto iPhones with their new mental health tracking features and that’s something we haven’t seen before.
New technologies utilizing user data almost always spark privacy concerns (which is a good thing, we guess). Especially when it comes to highly personal health data. Sharing that data requires a great level of consumer trust not everyone has. To combat that, Apple aims to keep the processing on the iPhone itself without data sent to Apple servers.
With the new mental health tracking features Apple could improve their users’ quality of life by warning them of a possible mental health condition and prompting them to seek care. However, the results of the studies aren’t in yet and the technology still needs to be further developed. So it still could take years for this feature to lift off - or to get off the ground at all.
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