So here’s the deal with Samsung – they’re not just a cell phone maker. Given the recent fiasco with the Note 7, talk about Samsung and you’ll surely envision a mobile device that probably might be emitting a steady stream of smoke. But let’s not forget that the conglomerate has its fingers in other businesses and subsidiaries as well. One of them, being software.
Perhaps the most lifelogger-centric software to come out of Samsung’s labs is the S Health app – a wholesome, comprehensive tracking application that not only works with a multitude of devices, but also keeps track of a large number of parameters.
And this brings us to the million dollar question: is the S Health app merely a jack of all trades? Or is it a wholesome companion app for a quantified lifestyle? These questions shall be forming the foundation of this article, as this author tries to delve deep into the nuances of the S Health App by Samsung.
THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS
The S Health App focuses on three major aspects: fitness, diet and sleep tracking. The fitness part is fairly simple enough to understand: you have graphs which show the amount of physical activity that the user might have indulged in through the day.
Where things do get interesting, however, is the inclusion of more advanced types of exercises, including pilates, hula-hooping and yoga – besides running, walking and swimming. All the data is pooled into the app through either the mobile device (all hail the accelerometer!), or fitness tracking wearables, or even existing third party applications.
The second aspect is the diet tracking part. This is passive tracking at best, wherein the user needs to manually enter what kind of food might have been consumed through the day. The S Health app accordingly adds the corresponding calories against the daily consumption for the user.
And finally, there’s the whole sleep tracking bit. Now the mechanism works best with a wearable, but sleep tracking can also be carried out with a phone, and the S Health app taps into the gyroscope for this purpose. A semi-passive mode of gaining perspective about sleep patterns, but an overall decent approach for newbie lifeloggers.
A bonus parameter that can be measured is the user’s heart rate, but for this the phone needs to come equipped with a heart rate sensor. Information such as blood pressure measurements and glucose levels are recorded through the specialised sensor on the mobile device, and can be processed and exported through the app.
INTEGRATING THE INFORMATION
The S Health app is designed to integrate information across multiple platforms, multiple applications. Although quite a recent development, the app now is no longer exclusive to work with Samsung based applications and devices, and more renowned brands such as Garmin, Polar, Omron, OneTouch and Xiaomi can now share their information with the S Health app.
Additionally, the data within the S Health application can also be shared with a number of online services such as Jawbone, RunKeeper, Strava and Fitbit. Parameters such as oxygen concentration, stress, blood pressure and blood glucose can be entered externally.
Two things are of primary importance in this regard: the whole concept of deep linking within an app, and the security of data recorded through lifelogging with app permissions. Addressing the latter concern, Samsung states that the app has been audited by an independent third party firm in order to keep information secure as per the HIPAA requirements. This, along with the Samsung Knox integration, makes it apparent that the information within the S Health app might be a tad bit secure.
GUIDANCE + GOALS + FEEDBACK
Any lifelogging application worth its salt ultimately relies on two cornerstones: goals, and guidance. Goals is pretty straightforward: the user has to set certain goals for his/her improvement, and the app will record these goals and provide the guidance accordingly.
Banking upon the guidance aspect is usually a subscription plan which directly connects experts (or coaches) to the user through the app. The goals are discussed upon, and effective plans can be come up with.
The S Health app has the Ask Experts service, which connects various users of the app with each other and to healthcare professionals. We’ve already seen big brands incorporate this into their apps, and perhaps a bot (like the one we have in Instant!) might be on the cards too?
The app comes with its own training plans dashboard too, under the moniker of ‘Programs’. This gives the user an overview of workout regimes, enabling him/her to customise workout plans. The app also provides feedback to the user in the form of analyses.
Almost all apps have a certain level of gamification incorporated within, and things aren’t any different here. Challenge your friends to complete goals in the number of steps, see where you stand in the rankings and leaderboards, and indulge in step challenges and other fun exercises.
The S Health can cater to a host of devices, and not just your everyday fitness wearables. Specialised devices for measuring parameters, such as Bluetooth scales, heart rate monitors, blood glucose monitors and even skeletal muscle function and body fat percentage can tap into the app’s prowess and can push information into the S Health’s ecosystem.
Additionally, it is worth noting that the Gear IconX earbuds record heart rate and exercise based dynamics – all by observing the head movement during the activity. This also brings a voice guide into the mix, which tells the user about the distance covered, speed of exercise and the number of calories burnt.
SO, IS IT WORTH YOUR WHILE?
Forget the brand name for a second, and forget about the app’s name. Go over the headings of each section above. It’s pretty evident that we’re looking at a solid application which checks all boxes when it comes to integration, ease of use, keeping interest levels of the user high and at the same time, making sure that the data collected is aggregated effectively.
At the end of the day, lifelogging is a tiresome process which is made simpler and more fun through applications such as these. The S Health is certainly a jack of all trades, and might just be a master of a few.
(Images sourced from Samsung Newsroom and screenshots.)