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CareKit is Apple’s New Open-source Health-oriented Mobile App Framework

| by Sergio De Simone Follow 21 Followers on Apr 30, 2016. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Following on from the announcement at the March 2016 “Let us loop you in”, Apple has open sourced its new CareKit framework, aimed to make it easier for developers to create apps that help people manage their medical conditions. Along with the new framework, Apple has also made available four iOS apps that use it.

The new framework from Apple is hosted on GitHub in a repository of its own. Interestingly, almost two years after the introduction of Swift, CareKit is an 100% Objective-C framework. The sample app it includes, though, is written in Swift. InfoQ has asked Apple to clarify the rationale for this decision and this article will be updated if we hear back.

CareKit provides six modules that implement features that, Apple hopes, will help developers create medically-oriented apps, such as:

  • Care Card, to help tracking care plans and action items, such as taking medication or carrying through exercises;
  • Symptom and Measurement Tracker, to monitor symptoms and measurements, including temperature, fatigue, hunger, etc;
  • Insight Dashboard, which combines symptoms with action items to show how treatments are working through charts;
  • Connect, which allows users to share, or not share, their information with doctors, other apps, family members, etc.
  • Care Plan Store, a database shared with the other modules.
  • Document Exporter, which provides a mechanism to package Insights data for export.

Apple also hopes that, with CareKit now open source, the developer community will create new modules or extend the existing ones.

As mentioned, Apple has worked with third-parties to provide a few CareKit-enabled apps, which focus on depression medication management, diabetes symptoms management, pregnancy management, and baby health monitoring. Other apps focusing on monitoring post-surgical needs and chronic conditions have also been announced.

CareKit is the third framework that Apple has released to address the requirements of health-oriented apps, along with HealthKit and ResearchKit, and in a sense builds on top of them. HealthKit provides an API to interact with the iOS 8+ Health app to manage health data such as blood pressure, calories consumed, etc. ResearchKit focuses more explicitly on requirements of medical researchers, such as conducting surveys, adquiring consent, or managing active tasks.

For further exploration, you can clone the GitHub repo or read the API documentation. CareKit has also got its own blog.

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