How Spotify could use your Apple Health data for music recommendations

Soon you may be able to match your music to your workout  (Mobvoi)
Soon you may be able to match your music to your workout (Mobvoi)

If you own an iPhone and use Spotify, you may have a useful new feature to look forward to when exercising this year. It’s claimed that the music streaming app will sync with the health data on your iPhone to generate personalised music playlists for workouts.

Here’s what you need to know about the rumoured new feature, including how it could impact your music recommendations and privacy.

Is Spotify integrating Apple Health data?

Developer Chris Messina, who keeps an eye on Spotify code to watch out for incoming features, has identified code that shows HealthKit integration is being developed.

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However, the feature isn’t yet available, and neither Spotify nor Apple have said anything about these plans, which means it may never appear.

HealthKit is code Apple makes available to other developers that lets them use the data gathered by the Health app on your iPhone in their apps, in this case, to create workout music.

Your iPhone, compatible fitness tracker, or Apple Watch collect all kinds of information about your fitness. This includes data concerning how much you walk, cycle, run, how long you work out for, how many calories you burn, and so on.

How Spotify could use your Apple Health data

The HealthKit integration will, we think, let Spotify use this information to develop playlists to match those habits – though it will need to obtain your permission to do so.

Messina explains, “This data will allow Spotify to match your workouts with what you listen to and see what audio motivates you best. Workout data includes the type of workout, distance, and pace or speed.”

The idea is that Spotify will be able to choose specific songs for specific exercise routines, personalised to match how you do them. Not everyone exercises at the same speed, and not everyone is motivated by the same tracks, so Spotify will combine what it already knows about your music habits with what it learns about your workout techniques to build these personalised collections.

This could be good news for anyone wanting to listen to music from the service while working off some of the post-Christmas flab.

How to keep your Apple Health data private

When the rumoured news first broke, people were understandably concerned about the implications of sharing their health info with another app. But the fact is that many health and wellness apps and devices already support Apple HealthKit integration, including fitness apps like Nike Run Club, food and nutrition apps like WeightWatchers, and smart medical devices like Withings Blood Pressure Monitor.

They can only harness that info by first asking for your permission, including for the different types of data they require. Per Apple, users could allow an app to read step-count data, for instance, but prevent it from reading blood-glucose levels. You can view and change permissions for the different apps that are using your health data by tapping your profile icon in the Health app and selecting privacy.

In Spotify’s case, it won’t be able to use your health data to serve you ads as Apple’s policy explicitly forbids the use of info from “the HealthKit framework for advertising or similar services”. Neither can companies sell the info they get from HealthKit to third parties, such as advertising platforms.

According to Apple, all HealthKit data is stored locally on your device and encrypted when a user locks their device. It also stays up to date using iCloud, where it is also encrypted “while in transit and at rest.”

In addition, Apple requires all apps that use Health data to provide a privacy policy for users to review before granting permission.