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Security & privacy

Check your phone now to see all the apps collecting your heart rate and other health stats

Apple’s introduction of the Health app made it easier to track vital signs. By inputting your weight, height, and other health-related information, it serves as a quick reference app for medical issues and information.

Combining the technology with devices like Apple Watch gives you an instant tracker of your heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. Apple’s Health app needs permission to store this type of information.

That makes it easy to get a historical overview of your vitals. This is handy when working out, watching your calorie intake and general well-being. But why do some random apps need access to your health data? They don’t!

Here is the backstory

Applications that have access to your iOS health data might not be as clear-cut as you imagine. Some functions are expected, like the Health app itself and the built-in clock to track your sleep schedule, but there is no need for non-health apps to access these details.

To see which apps and functions have access to your private health data:

  • Open the Health app
  • Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner
  • Under Privacy, tap Apps

This displays a list of apps that have been granted access to your health information. See something that you don’t want tracking you? Tap on the Delete all data option to remove it.

What to look out for

Most iOS users will have the Clock, Health, and Messages apps listed as having access to your health data. The apps use different metrics from your daily activities to calculate and store data. This makes historical comparisons easy.

On the other hand, if you have more apps listed than default system applications, carefully go through the list to evaluate if they need access. On some occasions, mobile games request permission to track your health data, which is obviously unnecessary.

One such game is Niantic’s hugely popular Pokémon GO mobile app. By turning on the game’s Adventure Sync (which tracks the miles you have traveled), you must grant it access to either Apple Health or Google Fit.

As a side note, the Messages app will be listed but is deactivated by default. It is used in some emojis as a cute way of sharing your heartbeat with a far-off loved one.

Check permissions

Many apps might be accessing data that you would rather not have shared with others. In addition to health data, you can control what information is collected by apps.

To check app permissions on iOS:

  • Tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap Privacy

This displays a list of functions that apps can access. Selecting an option will open a list of the apps that have access to that function. For example, select camera and you’ll see a list of apps that can access your phone’s camera.

Slide the toggle to the left next to each app you want to remove those permissions. Do this for each function that you want to limit permissions for.

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