by James A. Martin

Why you should use Health+ instead of Apple’s native Health app

Jun 17, 2015
Consumer ElectronicsMobile Apps

The Health app for iOS is the ugly duckling of Apple apps, with an interface circa 2010. A new app, Health+, puts polish on the information Apple Health aggregates, though it doesn't offer as many data points.

Apple is widely praised for its design sense, and rightly so. However, its Health app has always struck me as oddly un-Apple, thanks to its unsophisticated, off-putting, dated interface.

Health+, a new (and free) iOS app, puts a welcome, polished spin on some of the data collected by the Apple Health app. Health+ incorporates information from the Health app in six categories — Steps, Distance, Weight, Sleep, Body Fat and Dietary Calories — and presents it in a tile-like interface.

If you spring for the Health+ Pro version (a one-time, $2 in-app purchase), you can double-tap tiles, which the app calls “modules,” to get more details. For example, if you double-tap the Steps module, you see your most active and least active days on record (in terms of steps taken), as well as most and least active weeks, months and years. The app displays your most and least active weekday and month over time. The Pro version also lets you change the module color schemes and add goals to them, such as 10,000 steps per day.

Health+ is only as good as its data, of course. You should decide which of your various health-data apps and devices (such as a Polar chest strap or an Apple Watch) should have priority in Apple Health, and therefore in Health+. (For more on this, visit Apple’s help page.)

It’s worth noting that the popular Fitbit trackers don’t sync with Apple’s HealthKit, but there are workarounds, such as Wristband, a $2 app that syncs Fitbit and Jawbone UP data to HealthKit, and therefore, with Health+.

As much as I appreciate Health+’s visual design, it doesn’t currently display nearly as many data types as Apple Health, including heart rate and the flights of stairs climbed. Health+ developer Marcel Eichhorn says more data modules are coming soon, along with additional Health+ Pro features, a notification center widget, and an Apple Watch extension.

If you’ve held off from using Apple Health as your primary health and fitness dashboard, or you’re simply looking for a chance of pace, give the free version of Health+ a try.