Health and fitness updates for iOS 16: Medication tracking, sleep stages, iPhone activity tracking and more

Apple with iOS 16 added a new medication management feature to the Health app, which is designed to allow users to keep track of their medications to make sure a dose is not missed. The feature works alongside the new Medicines app on Apple Watch and is useful for everything from prescriptions to vitamins.

This guide covers everything you need to know about the medication tracking feature along with other new features of the ‌iOS 16‌ Health app.

Medication tracking

Medicines is a new tab available in the Health app, accessible by going to the View section and scrolling down to Medicines or typing it into the Health app search bar.

ios 16 medicine section health
In the Medications app, you can enter all the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins you’re taking so you can get reminders to take medications, check for interactions, and more.

ios 16 medicine add
Adding a medication is as simple as tapping the Add Medication button in the Health app. From there, you can enter the name of a drug or vitamin, or use your iPhone’s camera to scan the label on the pill bottle. Adding by scanning is easy, but it doesn’t always collect all the information, so you may need to manually select a dose and form (pill, spray, etc.).

ios 16 scan drug label
From there you can choose the frequency of taking the medicine. You can choose a specific day or range of days, specific days of the week or choose as needed, then you can set the time you want to take the medicine.

ios 16 health schedule medicine
Medicines can be customized in shape and color to match the pill you take in real life for quick and easy recognition.

ios 16 health app medicine customization
You can add all your medications and vitamins to the Health app, and everything can be seen in a list.

Medication reminders

After you add your medicine to the Health app and set a time and day to take it, ‌iPhone‌ will send you a notification when it’s time to take it. You can receive notifications for all scheduled medications in the Health app.

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Medication notifications are classified as time-sensitive notifications and will be delivered at the time you specify unless you override the setting.

register medicines
Notifications are automatic for all medications that have a set time and/or day when you take them.

Record medication

When a reminder notification appears, you can tap it to be taken to a pop-up window where you can mark a medication as ‘Taken’ or ‘Missed.” You can also use the ‘Mark all as taken’ option if you have several scheduled medicines for Medicines can also be marked as registered from the list of medicines in the Health app.

ios 16 health app for medication registration
The Health app can track the medications you take over time, so you can check if you’re taking your medications regularly. You can view data organized by day, week, month, six months, and year.

Apple will also provide a medication highlight in your health summary, letting you know how often you’ve taken a medication in the last 28 days.

Medication app on Apple Watch

In watchOS 9, there’s a dedicated Medicines app that you can use to log in faster. You can register each medication individually in the app or use ‘Register All as Taken’ to get to them all at once. If you have missed a dose, you can select the ‘Missed’ option.

watchos 9 drugs
The Apple Watch app is only for marking medications as taken, and all other medication management must be done in the Health app.

Drug interactions

The Health app regularly checks to make sure the medicines you’re taking don’t interact with each other, preventing you from taking a combination of medicines that could be dangerous.

drug interactions ios 16

Side effects of drugs and other information

If you tap a drug on your list with the Health app, you can then select the Side Effects button to see the side effects listed for that drug, if available.

ios 16 side effects of drugs
Not all drugs have side effects listed, and the information is provided by Elsevier, a Dutch company that specializes in medical content, including the annual ScienceDirect book series on drug side effects.

Export of medicines

In the Medications section of the Health app, there’s an option to “Export PDF Medication List” which, as the name suggests, creates a simple PDF file of the medications you’re taking. You can share this list with a doctor.

Sleep features

For those who wear the Apple Watch to bed for sleep tracking purposes, ‌watchOS 9‌ and ‌iOS 16‌ bring new functionality. The sleep recorded by Apple Watch is divided into categories of Awake, REM, Core (light), and Deep sleep, so you can get an idea of ​​how well you slept during the night.

ios 16 sleep info
Apple Watch will track when you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up, and how much time you spend in REM, Core, and Deep sleep.

Apple defines the different categories of sleep as follows:

  • Woke up – You may find yourself awake during parts of the sleep session. It’s normal for people to wake up sometimes. You may fall asleep immediately and not remember waking up during the night.
  • REM – This stage of sleep may play a role in learning and memory. During this stage, your muscles are most relaxed and your eyes move quickly from side to side. This is also the time when most of your dreams come true.
  • Core – Sometimes called light sleep, this stage is considered as important as the others. This stage often accounts for the majority of your sleep time each night. During this stage, brain waves occur that can be important for cognition.
  • Deep – Also known as slow-wave sleep due to brain wave patterns, this is the stage where body tissues repair and essential hormones are released. This stage usually occurs for longer periods during the first half of your sleep session.

Sleep data collected by the Apple Watch can be viewed in the Sleep section of the Health app. Sleep data can now be viewed by day, not just by week, so you can examine your sleep quality every day.

Except for the new sleep categories, the sleep functionality is the same. You still use the same Bedtime and Wakeup features that are associated with the Relax and Sleep Focus options.

Invitations to share health

You can invite family members to share their data with you in ‌iOS 16‌, making it easy to track the health information of elderly family members or children. After receiving an invitation, the person can choose which data to share with you.

ios 16 health sharing

Fitness activity tracking

In iOS 15 and earlier, you needed an Apple Watch to take advantage of the Fitness app, but that changed in ‌iOS 16‌.

fitness app ios 16
You can use the Fitness app with the ‌iPhone‌ motion sensors to track your activity level. ‌iPhone‌ can estimate steps, distance traveled, and track third-party workouts to provide details on how many calories you’ve burned in a day.

Without the Apple Watch, you’re limited to a daily movement goal, with no exercise and standing goals available.

Management feedback

Have questions about the new health and fitness features in ‌iOS 16‌, know of a feature we missed, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Email us here.

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