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Measure your heart rate – Using nothing but your device camera

There’s no doubting the Apple Watch is a fancy bit of kit. It can interact with your iPhone to mirror notifications, you can control music, video, your entire home with it. But one area in which it truly excels is health – and a key component of that is its ability to measure your heart rate with considerable accuracy.

It means your stats can be easily tracked and categorized in Apple’s Health app. But what if you don’t have an Apple Watch?

That doesn’t mean you can’t measure your heart rate, using your iPhone instead. Whether to measure your fitness, check your recovery, or get an idea of any potential health issues, there’s an app on the App Store which will allow your to monitor your heart beat via the iPhone’s camera lens. Surprisingly, it really works.

The App’s called Instant Heart Rate Monitor and the basic functionality is free. Here’s how to use it:

Instant Heart Rate

First, open the app and make sure you’re on the Measure tab along the bottom. When the rear camera lights up, place your index finger gently on the camera lens shown in the graphic. (It will vary based on your device.)

The app will then detect and measure your pulse. Hold still for 10 seconds or so and it’ll provide a reading. If you don’t see the progress bar moving, you may need to reposition the tip of your finger and hold still again. It’s as simple as that!

From here you can add descriptive tabs, such as what time of day you measured your heart rate, or if it was after a work out.

If you’re skeptical about the accuracy of the app, we tested it against the Apple Watch and found the readings were consistently close – within about 5% of one another. The app is also “trusted by Stanford’s leading cardiologists for use in clinical trials” and has been used in health research at UCSF.

It’s worth noting that after your first measurement, the app asks you to register – though you can use Sign in with Apple to minimize hassle, and continue using the app for free.

While measuring your heart rate will be useful to many, others will want to see trends and reports. The app provides these as well as other features for $55 a year. Still cheaper than an Apple Watch.

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