Apple: HealthKit Data Off Limits to Advertisers

Apple's HealthKit will be off limits for advertisers, which means app developers planning on supporting the health and fitness logging platform won't be able to make money by selling information about how far we walk or how much we weigh to other companies. The rule should help keep personal information that should stay private out of the wrong hands, and could help boost trust in HealthKit once iOS 8 ships in the coming weeks.

Apple blocks developers from selling HealthKit data to advertisersApple blocks developers from selling HealthKit data to advertisers

HealthKit is a new platform Apple is including in iOS 8, the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system first showed off at the company's annual World Wide Developer Conference this spring. The platform lets developers tap into a single system for logging fitness and health-related data collected from tracker devices, and lets users choose which pieces of information to share with their health care and insurance providers.

The limitation on how HealthKit-related information can be used was detailed in an update to the iOS developer terms and conditions, which states app coders can't "sell an end-user's health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers."

Blocking developers from selling our health and fitness data should help users feel more comfortable about their privacy, and likely also helps Apple present HealthKit as a system doctors can use without breaking patient confidentiality regulations.

Apple will host a special media event on September 9 where the company is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display options. The company is also expected to show off its first entry into the wearables market with a fitness tracking watch that wirelessly syncs data with users's iPhones.

There isn't any official word on what the company will announce, although it's a pretty safe bet we will see new iPhones, and possibly the rumored iWatch, just as analysts are expecting.

iPhone users can try out HealthKit with compatible devices and apps once iOS ships, and the can see Apple's new Health app, which displays data from the gear HealthKit interacts with. iOS 8 will be a free upgrade and will likely be available a few days ahead of the iPhone 6 launch date some time in September.

Apple's strict rules regarding data privacy for HealthKit may come as bad news for companies hoping to use advertising to recoup some of their app development expenses, but for end users, it's a welcome restriction because it ensures they won't need to worry about their personal health information being sold to advertisers.

[Thanks to the Financial Times for the heads up]

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]