My “Missing” Health Data

I have been having some Siri-related bugs on the iOS/watchOS betas, so I tried to solve them by restoring my devices.

Before restoring my iPhone, I made sure to run an iCloud backup to restore from. A couple of hours after doing the restore, I opened the Activity app and saw that none of my Activity Rings for last week were there. Since I have closed my rings everyday since December 16th of last year, I was immediately worried that I had lost my streak data.

I opened the Health app and saw that most of my data since around June of this year was missing. My HealthKit database is one of the most important things my phone has on it (second to only photos), so losing a big chunk of it would have been pretty bad.

Luckily, I looked at it again a few minutes later and saw that some of the data had started to fill back in. An hour or so later, it was all back.

With iOS 11, Apple made is possible to sync health data with iCloud instead of having it as a part of your iPhone backup data. All of your health data would be imported during the initial stage of the restore from backup. This all happened before you could use actually the phone. By the time you could actually open the Health app, all of your health data was there.

That process changes when you sync with iCloud. The data is not put into HealthKit during the restore (because it is no longer included in the backup). It is instead downloaded to your device from iCloud after restoring.

This new system has a few benefits:
– The restore is much quicker (because it can completely skip the health import).
– Your health data is not tied to your backup, so you can set up a phone and still keep your data.
– Your HealthKit database can be shared across multiple devices.

The problem is that Apple did not update the Health app’s UI to reflect this new syncing state. Apple really needs to add some indication in the app’s UI that data is still coming in so customers do not think that they have data loss.

For something as crucial and irreplaceable as health data, even the implication of data loss is unacceptable. Apple should take extra care to show the state of that data.

I filed bug reports for the missing UI (rdar://42840382) and another for being able to import a HealthKit archive (rdar://42840426).