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Apple's research app turns users into study participants

Apple has released a research application for the iPhone. It should serve as a one-stop shop for users who wish to participate in medical studies. The app details all active research projects, guides you through the privacy policy, and gathers the consent of interested study participants. It also manages data automatically collected from the iPhone and Apple Watch as part of the study.


Studies can use data from sensors for the iPhone and Apple Watch.

(Image: Apple)

The research application is currently only available in the US App Store, and study participation is for US citizens only. The plans or dates for the international presentation of Apple's study application have not yet been announced.

When launching the application, Apple launches three studies, each in collaboration with various US research institutions. "Apple's Women's Health Study" is designed to shed light on the link between the menstrual cycle and various health problems such as osteoporosis and infertility, the company said on Thursday. Apple's Heart and Motion Study examines whether certain patterns of motion of the subjects can provide evidence of heart disease.

Apple Auditory Study aims to investigate the effects of ambient noise and noise from hearing aids – the same features were recently introduced with iOS 13 and watchOS 6. Studies can rely on iPhones and Apple Watch sensors for example, to determine movement, heart rate and ambient noise. Study participants are also regularly interviewed through the Application.

These are not the first studies funded by Apple: With their own heart study, whose results have just been published, the group has been preparing to introduce atrial fibrillation and ECG alert function, both of which are available on Apple Watch. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly stressed in recent months, "Apple's biggest contribution to humanity will be in the health sector." The billion-dollar healthcare market is also "significantly underestimated", one of the most important future markets.

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