iWatch concept (All, Todd Hamilton 001)

Over the past year or so, Apple has been hiring a number of doctors and other experts in the medical field to work on an unknown project. And up until now, we’ve known little about its plans outside of recurring iWatch speculation.

But a new report out this afternoon may help shed some light on what it’s been working on. Apparently health and fitness tracking are going to be headlining features of iOS 8, and they’re expected to play well with Apple’s smartwatch…

Here’s 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman with the scoop:

“Apple has its sights set on another industry ripe for reinvention: the mobile healthcare and fitness world. Apple currently plans to release a new version of the iPhone operating system this year with health and fitness tracking integration as its headline feature, according to sources briefed on the plans. Apple’s work on such an operating system likely indicates that Apple is nearing the introduction of its long-awaited, sensor-laden “iWatch,” which sources say is well into development.”

Gurman goes on to say that Apple is working on a new app for iOS 8 codenamed “Healthbook.” Similar to Passbook, the app will feature a stack of cards that each offer a fitness tracking or health data point and can be swiped between.

passbook_overview

So where is this app going to get all of this information? Well thanks to the M7 processor, Apple’s newer devices can count steps and measure other activity, but they can’t read vital signs. And that, Gurman says, is where the iWatch comes in.

“Based on the health information that iOS 8 is capable of reading, Apple’s wearable device will seemingly have sensors at least capable of measuring blood pressure, hydration, heart rate, and steps. iOS 8 combined with the iWatch is said to be able to monitor several other pieces of health and fitness data, but additional specifics are not as clear as of now.

Sources also hint that Apple has developed technologies to be able to pack several different sensors into a single chipset for miniaturization purposes.”

While it’s cautioned that Apple’s plans for iOS 8 could change, there’s a long line of evidence suggesting that the company is serious about getting into this space. In fact, the Times reported today that Apple executives met with the FDA last month.

We’re expecting iOS 8 to be unveiled at the World Wide Developers Conference in June this year, but word has it that Apple’s smartwatch won’t make its debut until the fall or later.

What are your thoughts on a vital sign-checking smartwatch? Would you buy one?

top image via Todd Hamilton