The new Research App for iOS connected with the Apple Watch

Apple yesterday refreshed the Research app for the iPhone and iPad with support for its noise-cancelling AriPods Pro wireless earbuds in the company’s ongoing hearing study.

According to the changelog accompanying the update, version 1.1.2 brings other changes like battery life improvements with the latest watchOS update and an improved experience for VoiceOver users while participating in Apple’s Hearing study and the hearing test.

Previewed at WWDC 2019 and released for public consumption in November the same year, the Research software arrived with the following three studies available at launch:

  • Women’s Health Study: In partnership with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Apple has created the first long-term study of this scale focused on menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions. This study will inform screening and risk assessment of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis, pregnancy and menopausal transition.
  • Heart and Movement Study: Apple is partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association on a comprehensive study of how heart rate and mobility signals — like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed — relate to hospitalizations, falls, heart health and quality of life in order to promote healthy movement and improved cardiovascular health.
  • Hearing Study: Alongside the University of Michigan, Apple is examining factors that impact hearing health. The Apple Hearing Health Study is the first of its kind to collect data over time in order to understand how everyday sound exposure can impact hearing. The study data will also be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a contribution toward its Make Listening Safe initiative.

The Research app fits nicely into Apple’s overall health strategy laid out back in 2014 with the launch of the original Apple Watch, followed by the launch of ResearchKit the following year which Stanford researchers used to create their landmark 2017 Apple Watch Heart Study.

Tutorial: How to use the ECG app on Apple Watch

The basic premise is that a dedicated app and the many sensors built into the iPhone hardware finally allow researchers to conduct medical studies with millions of people, as opposed to the traditional methods that are costly, time consuming and narrow in scope.

Apple Heart Research Study

Most importantly, research initiatives conducted via the app only share data with the chosen studies, with the user in full control over the type of data shared with each study.

Apple claims that the collected data is never shared with or sold to third parties.

On a related note, Apple just announced a partnership with Johnson & Johnson on a new Heartline study designed to potentially reduce the risk of stroke with an Apple Watch.

Apple Research is a free download from the App Store.