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Addressing mental, vision health next frontier: Indian-origin Apple Health VP

Cupertino (California), June 6 (IANS) Indian-origin Sumbul Desai, Apple’s Vice President of Health, has emphasised that the next goal for the company is to help users improve their mental and vision health.

Mental health and vision health are important, but often overlooked.

“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,” Desai said during the company’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) here.

New mental health features in iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and watchOS 10 allow users to log their momentary emotions and daily moods, see valuable insights, and easily access assessments and resources.

iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch offer new vision health features that encourage healthy behaviours that help reduce the risk of myopia, and the Health app comes to iPad, giving users new ways to see their health data.

“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,” said Desai.

At Apple, Desai oversees health initiatives including clinical product development, innovative clinical partnerships and medical research. She also leads the regulatory and quality teams at the tech giant.

She recently served as Vice Chair of Strategy and Innovation in the Department of Medicine at Stanford Medicine in the US.

The Health app in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, and the Mindfulness app in watchOS 10, bring an engaging and intuitive way for users to reflect on their state of mind.

Users can scroll through engaging, multidimensional shapes and choose how they are feeling in a range from Very Pleasant to Very Unpleasant.

They can select associations that are having the biggest impact on their feelings, like Travel or Family, and describe their feelings, such as Grateful or Worried.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the leading cause of vision impairment globally. It’s estimated to affect over 30 per cent of the population currently and expected to grow to 50 per cent, or 5 billion people, by 2050.

According to Apple, in the Health app, users can now view the amount of time spent in daylight detected by their Apple Watch. Time spent in daylight can help reduce the risk of myopia in children and provide additional benefits to physical and mental health.

With watchOS 10, Apple Watch introduces the ability to measure time spent in daylight using the ambient light sensor.

Users can view the amount of time spent in daylight detected by their Apple Watch in the Health app in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.

“Children who do not have their own iPhone can use Family Setup to pair their Apple Watch to their parent’s iPhone, giving parents visibility into the amount of time their kids are spending in daylight with Health Sharing,” Apple said.

Time spent in daylight can provide additional benefits to physical and mental health, so this feature is available to all watchOS 10 users.

The new ‘Screen Distance’ feature in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 also encourages users to move their device farther away after holding it closer than 12 inches for an extended period of time.

“Data in the Health app is never shared with any third party without the user’s explicit permission,” according to Apple.