With the security of Apple's ($AAPL) cloud storage system under scrutiny following reports linking it to the leak of private photographs, the company has barred apps that store health information from using the platform. The stipulation is one of several made by Apple as it tries to expand into healthcare without creating privacy problems or angering regulators.
Apple will reject any apps that use its HealthKit framework and keep health information in iCloud, the tech giant's cloud-storage system, 9to5Mac reports. While the terms and conditions ban apps from using iCloud, they place no other requirements on how the data are stored. The policy therefore frees Apple from the risk of weaknesses in iCloud causing a privacy breach, without necessarily ensuring the security of data gathered by apps that connect to HealthKit.
Another of the 8, HealthKit-specific terms covers the regulatory divide between health apps and medical devices. "Apps that provide diagnoses, treatment advice, or control hardware designed to diagnose or treat medical conditions that do not provide written regulatory approval upon request will be rejected," the terms state. It is unclear from the terms how Apple will decide whether apps should be classed as needing regulatory approval.
The potential boom in use of devices capable of passively collecting objective health data could be a boon for research and health practice, but big doubts remain about whether the technology can make the leap from consumers to clinical settings. "The health industry is very doubtful in terms of what Apple can come up with. How will data be integrated and used? Who's going to interpret that data for clinical use? That's very challenging," Parks Associates' Harry Wang told mHealthNews.