Thumbthing Writings by Bob Spryn, and Roderic Campbell, iOS Engineers and founders at Thumbworks

Cortado, HealthKit App

There is a simple health app that I’ve been using for awhile that uses an amazing and little used user interaction, custom actionable notifications, which was introduced in iOS 8. The app to which I am referring is called Cortado and the interaction is a combination of the lightweight background location fetching and custom user notifications which streamlines an otherwise tedious data input flow.

A quick background on the app

Cortado takes user input to add caffeine (coffee in my case) intake data to Apple’s HealthKit database. Its simple:

  1. open the app
  2. pick a drink
  3. pick a time
  4. hit done

First image

…and voila it adds this to HealthKit.

How he made it simpler

Observing typical user behavior, we can make this interaction a few clicks simpler. I, as well as many other folks, may have a routine of drinking the same type of coffee at a cafe, every day. Cortado uses background location to determine if I am at a coffee shop, then it displays a custom notification which allows you to add a data point to your HealthKit database without actually opening the app. So now the steps become…

  1. Tap your drink

That’s it.

notification animation

This may sound like a trivial improvement, but if you understand funnel analytics you’ll know why this an important improvement for keeping users engaged. Having used this for several months, I can say that the interaction is incredible, simple, accurate, and actually has me adding data to HealthKit where I otherwise would not have.

How this affects mHealth

Let’s apply this deeper into the mHealth space, I can imagine an app for reminding individuals to take a medication with the same experience. Once a day, or when someone’s activity levels, or heart rate cross a specific threshold, display the alert and get them to enter some simple data about their medication or reason for (lack of) activity.

Through these simple interactions provided by iOS and other frameworks we can see real improvements in health data, and ultimately people’s overall health.