Tim Cook might be on to something with his claim health will be Apple's legacy

How to save and back up your Health data on Apple Watch
How to save and back up your Health data on Apple Watch (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

During another inscrutable earnings call in October 2019, Tim Cook was answering the usual questions from the usual analysts. Nothing of interest was going on — and then this happened.

The wearables have done extremely well, it was acceleration further from the previous quarter, and so we're thrilled with the results. As to what's driving it, it's the totality that's driving it. For some people, it's about fitness. For some people, it's about health. For some other people, it's about communication. For some people, it's all of the above. And I think the new feature of always-on Series 5 is a game-changer for many of our users.And in terms of other health-related things that we have going, we will be continuing to build out our health records connection into the health app. It really democratizes the information about people's health. And so they can easily go from doctor to doctor. We've got the research going that I mentioned earlier. There will be more of those through time. And obviously, we've got things that we're not going to talk about just yet that we're working on. But as I've said before, my view is there will be a day in the future that we look back and Apple's greatest contribution will be to people's health.

It's the second half of the last sentence that everyone latched on to. Health? In a world where Apple changed the world with iPhone? A world where receptionists of all shapes and sizes can proudly sit behind an iMac?

Yeah. Health. And you know what? Turns out, Cook might have been on to something.

Since then we've seen another Apple Watch arrive, this time in the form of Apple Watch Series 6. That brought with it support for blood oxygen monitoring for the first time. That's a big deal because despite me not being a doctor, even I know that it's pretty vital to have oxygen in your blood. So yay for that.

We've also seen Apple Fitness+ make its debut. And as part of that, Time to Walk and continued growth of the workout catalog and experience.

When watchOS 8 arrives this fall, people will be able to share their health data with friends and family, so they can make sure they're doing OK even when they aren't together. New mindfulness features will help people keep tabs on their mental health, and Apple Watch will track their sleeping respiratory rate. And that's all before we learn what Apple Watch Series 7 has in store for us.

And that's just some of the stuff Apple's done in the world of health since Cook's claim. We didn't know it at the time — and I'm not sure Apple knew it, either — but the first generation of Apple Watch changed the game and it's still doing it to this day.

Apple Watch saved a life just last week, and those stories are common. And they're just the ones we hear about! How many lives have been saved because Apple Watch helped someone change their lifestyle? Gave them the motivation to exercise more. Just reminded them to stand every once in a while? It all counts.

So when Tim Cook says health will be Apple's biggest contribution to the world, it might be more than a good quote in the middle of a boring finance call.

It might actually be true.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.