- Apple Watch will soon offer a menstruation and fertility monitoring app called Cycle Tracking, Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Monday in San Jose, California. The technology enables users to log information related to their menstrual cycles and view likely timing of their next period and fertile window.
- Those features overlap with services available through iPhone's Health app and third-party smartphone apps like Clue, Flo, Glow and Ovia Health. Wearables competitors Fitbit and Garmin have also already integrated period tracking features into their devices.
- Other health updates for Apple Watch announced Monday include a Noise app designed to alert users in environments with decibel levels that could be damaging to hearing health, and a new trends tracking feature in the Activity app that compares users' short-term activity behavior to data from the previous year.
The forthcoming reproductive and hearing health features build on Apple's branding of its smartwatch as a health device, spurred by its De Novo-cleared electrocardiogram and heart monitoring features launched last year. The company presented data from its Apple Heart Study at the American College of Cardiology conference in March to mixed reviews.
In the menstrual cycle and ovulation tracking arena, Apple has lagged other wellness wearables. Since Fitbit launched its period tracking capability about a year ago, 10 million users have leveraged the feature, the company said in data provided to MedTech Dive. Garmin unveiled a similar capacity for Garmin Connect users at the end of April.
"I know that knowing what's normal for you is critical when making informed clinical decisions and can really enrich your conversations with your doctor," Stanford physician Sumbul Desai, who joined Apple as vice president of health two years ago, said at WWDC. She added the new feature "gives you a simple, discreet way to visualize your cycle right on your wrist."
While there are numerous App Store alternatives to Apple's forthcoming Cycle Tracking, some have taken heat in recent months for sharing personal data.
The Wall Street Journal reported in a February that Flo, a cycle tracking and reproductive health insights app that says it has more than 28 million active monthly users, shared information with Facebook when a user tracked a period or indicated intention to get pregnant.
Flo said in a data privacy statement shortly after that it had "never sold any data point to Facebook as well as never used data from Facebook Analytics for advertisement," and said it requested all user data be deleted from Facebook Analytics.
Apple noted in its presentation Monday information from Cycle Tracking will be encrypted on-device, and in iCloud in cases when users choose to back up their data.
"[W]e applaud new entries to the category as it stands to help motivate more women to be proactive about their health," a spokesperson for Flo said in an email to MedTech Dive on Monday.
Early mover Clue, which said it currently has 11 million users after becoming the first menstrual cycle tracking app to integrate into Apple's iOS 9 HealthKit, has "always maintained a positive relationship with Apple" and welcomes "anything which drives the sector forward," 'femtech' advocate and Clue CEO Ida Tin said in a statement emailed to MedTech Dive.
The new software features are due out to the public this fall.