Apple Is Cracking Down On Sketchy Health Apps

Photographed by Kate Amglestein.
A version of this story originally appeared on Shape. Since Apple's iPhone 7 announcement earlier this week, its decision to remove the headphone jack from the latest model has been the source of much outcry and hand-wringing. But the tech giant made another major change recently that, although it doesn't change the anatomy of your beloved iPhone, might still have an impact on your everyday life. If you use a lot of health apps, that is. Specifically, Apple has added additional guidelines for health-tracking apps that will be available in the App Store. For the most part, these rules will focus on apps' security and the information they provide. Related: Is An Online Diagnosis From WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Or Other Sites Safe?

reports that a past study called the medical accuracy of certain apps into question, stating that they misclassified 30% of melanomas as "unconcerning." This would be less alarming if fewer people depended on online resources and apps for medical info. In reality, one in three Americans seek out health advice online. (Reminder: Symptom-checkers probably won't solve your problem.) In response to these concerns, Apple stated that "medical apps that could provide inaccurate data or information, or that could be used for diagnosing or treating patients may be reviewed with greater scrutiny." If an app puts users at risk of physical harm, Apple says it will be rejected.
The new guidelines also increase security around users' personal info. Now, apps have to get your consent before they can sell your info to third-party sites: "Apps may not use or disclose to third parties data gathered in the health, fitness, and medical research context...for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health management, or for the purpose of health research, and then only with permission." All of these changes clearly show that Apple has its users (and their safety) in mind. As we continue to explore how apps can supplement our health care, whether by tracking our periods or helping us maintain our mental health, we hope to see this awareness continue as well.
Click through to Shape for more info on managing your health. (Shape) Related: Brilliantly Beautiful Ways To Style Your Fitness Tracker

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