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This rumoured new iPhone feature sounds a little terrifying

From better battery to enhanced cameras, there are always a few rumours you can count on when it comes to the next iPhone. But every now and again we hear something truly unexpected – and that's certainly the case with this latest development.

A new report suggests Apple thinks the iPhone could eventually be capable of detecting depression, anxiety and cognitive decline. Yep, it seems our best camera phone could soon be going the way of the Apple Watch when it comes to detecting health issues.

iPhone 14

A recent render of the rumoured iPhone 14 (Image credit: Front Page Tech)

According to Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), the iPhone could use data based on "analysis of participants’ facial expressions, how they speak, the pace and frequency of their walks, sleep patterns, and heart and respiration rates" as part of its studies into "stress, anxiety and depression". Sleep patterns and frequency of walks could also feed into the data. Apple is said to be working with the University of California along with pharmaceutical company Biogen.

Think it all sounds a little terrifying? Us too. Apart from the obvious privacy concerns  (that's some pretty extensive user tracking right there), it's hard to imagine how accurately the algorithms will manage to detect something as complex as depression or anxiety. 

But perhaps the most dystopian aspect of it all is imagining what those notifications will look like. "Yeah I’m sure they can detect me laying in bed all day scrolling but then what? Will I get a pop-up telling me I’m sad?" One Reddit (opens in new tab) user asks, while another adds, "Well, that'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy... I can't think much that's more depressing than having your phone be the one to tell you you're depressed." 

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As with all Apple rumours, time will tell if this one is set to become a reality – it certainly sounds a little more distant that, say, slightly better battery life. If you don't fancy waiting to find out what's around the corner, check out today's best iPhone 13 deals below, and be sure to visit our main Apple deals page.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).