WWDC 2023: Apple adds new mental health features in iOS 17


For Apple‘s WWDC 2023 keynote, upgrades to physical and mental health features(opens in a new tab) were sprinkled among the tech giant’s long list of software updates and hardware unveilings. 

“Our goal is to empower people to take charge of their own health journey. With these innovative new features, we’re expanding the comprehensive range of health and wellness tools that we offer our users across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch,” wrote Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of Health, in the WWDC announcement. “Mental health and vision health are important, but often overlooked, and we’re excited to introduce features that offer valuable new insights to provide users with an even better understanding of their health. These insights help support users in their daily decisions and offer more informed conversations with their doctors.”

Apple Journal app

Apple is introducing its first localized journaling app, which enables users to chronicle their day-to-day life in a non-Notes app spot. The Journal app offers daily journaling reminders, writing prompts, and reflection cues based on your other device use, such as recent photos and locations, music listening, messaging, exercise stats, and other moments. 

An iPhone showing the Journal app homepage with prompts suggesting journal entries based on a set of surfing photos, a recent cycling session, and a recent phone call.


Credit: Apple

An iPhone lock screen showing a Journal app reminder notification.


Credit: Apple

The company also reassured users of the app’s privacy, offering end-to-end encryption and allowing Apple product owners the ability to lock their journal entries from prying eyes. 

Health hub for iPad 

The new iOS17 Health app for iPad stores all its data in one place, helping users better access their multi-device activity, track medications, and view interactive charts that “make your health data come to life,” the company explained. 

It’s also introducing a new HealthKit, available for developers to help build new and better health apps using Apple’s new health visualizations. 

An iPad displaying the new Health app hub.


Credit: Apple

An iPad showing the RISE app's health data visualizations.


Credit: Apple

Mental health data

With new Apple Watch and iPhone updates coming in 2023’s WatchOS 10 and iOS17, Apple pledged itself to mental healthcare “grounded in science, with privacy at the core.”

The newest Health and Mindfulness apps will now include mental health data, allowing users to log their daily emotions and moods in the app on Apple Watch, iPhone, or iPad. The new data page lets users scroll through multi-dimensional shapes and choose how they’re feeling from “Very Pleasant” to “Very Unpleasant,” log what may be contributing to those feelings, and explain their mood even further, in order to let Apple offer insights into daily habits and influences that might be impacting the user’s state of mind. 

An Apple Watch shows a green emotion prompt that reads


Credit: Apple

The app also will allow users take standardized mental health assessments that will note a user’s risk of depression and anxiety. It will then provide results to those who wish to share the data with their care provider or access additional resources on mental health.

An iPhone showing a mental health assessment prompt.


Credit: Apple

An iPhone displaying a mental health assessment prompt result.


Credit: Apple

Vision health

Apple is also launching new features to foster better vision health for all users, including children, noting increasing rates of myopia (or nearsightedness) worldwide(opens in a new tab).

New vision health tools include a new Apple Watch feature that will track how much time a user spends in daylight each day, which can be connected an Apple family account via Family Setup so parents and caregivers can see just how much time their kids spend out in the daylight, even if they don’t have an iPhone.

An iPhone and an Apple Watch display a Family Setup screen.


Credit: Apple

In addition, Apple is adding a screen distance notification using the same device data that enables Face ID. Screen distance measures if a user (child or adult) is holding their device too close to their face, encouraging users to move their device further away after holding it closer than 12 inches for an extended period of time to help lower risk of eye disease and to ease eye strain, the company said.

An iPad displays an illustrated page of a children's eBook.


Credit: Apple

Apple once again reiterated that all health data is encrypted securely on a user’s device and not shared without user-granted permission.

This story is developing and will be updated with additional information when available.





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