As a health and fitness measurement device, the Apple Watch is largely unproven. Released to the public April 24, the wearable is far too new to make any definitive pronouncements about whether it can actually prompt people to adopt healthy behaviors. But preliminary data from one app, Hello Heart, offers an interesting first look at how health-conscious individuals are using the device relative to the iPhone.
Hello Heart's iOS app lets users wirelessly sync or manually input blood-pressure readings from external monitors, as well as sync other kinds of health data from hospitals' and clinics' electronic medical records. For two weeks — from April 27 to May 11 — the company tracked the usage patterns of 3,000 of its users, split evenly between those with Apple Watches and iPhones, and those with iPhones alone.
And they discovered that the Apple Watch group was likelier to use the device to track their health.
People with both an iPhone and the Watch turned out to be surprisingly likely to log their blood pressure reading on one or both of the devices, Maayan Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Hello Heart, told BuzzFeed News. The number of users was 52% higher than those who only had an iPhone. Watch users also added 67% more overall medical data to the Hello Heart app than iPhone-only users.
So far, Hello Heart has also seen a higher-than-expected retention rate, Cohen said. The average number of users of the Apple Watch app daily is 55% higher than those who just open the iPhone app. And 67% of Apple Watch users in the first week came back to use the app the following week (again, keep in mind it's only been two weeks).
"We knew the Apple Watch was going to get people more engaged in their health, but not with these numbers," Cohen said.
Other early signs from Hello Heart's two-week study indicate that some Apple Watch owners are configuring the device to deliver quick, unobtrusive updates on their health.
The percentage of users who enabled Hello Heart's daily blood pressure check reminder on the Apple Watch were 2.5 times larger than the percentage who enabled it on just their iPhones. And one-third of Hello Heart's Apple Watch users added the app to "Glances," which provides quick and easy access to a handful of user-selected apps.
For now, people are still figuring out whether the watch is more than a shiny new object. Cohen said these preliminary findings suggest that it has the potential to be truly useful.
"We've heard of people taking their blood pressure in the bath, after gym practice – places they don't take their phone to," she said. "Now they can do it with the watch and it makes their lives a lot easier."
Stephanie M. Lee is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Stephanie M. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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