An iPhone displaying the Medications feature next to a pill case on a patterned background.
The Medications feature is the most practical health feature introduced in the iOS 16 beta.

The new medication feature in the Health app may be the most practical. Almost 50% of Americans take at least one prescription medication a day. 30 to 50 percent of patients don't adhere to long-term medications and they don't keep their medication schedules It costs the healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars a year. You can log and schedule which medications you take, and set up reminders on your Apple Watch, in the latest version of the mobile operating system. Your medication list can be shared with loved ones.

30 to 50 percent of patients don’t keep to their medication schedules

This is the first time that a third-party medication reminder app has been included in the health app. The jury is still out on how effective these reminder apps are, but experts told The Verge that this feature is a step in the right direction.

If there are any drug interactions that you should be aware of, theMedications feature can alert you. You can archive any medications that are no longer needed.

According to Apple's Health app privacy policy, any device locked with a password, Touch ID, or Face ID will make your health data accessible by default. If you're on the newer version of the software, you'll be able to make it so Apple can't read activity data. It's a good idea to make sure you use the protections to keep your medication private.

Set up your reminders

You can start by going to the Health app and tapping on the browse tab. You can add a medication by scrolling down and tapping theMedications menu.

You can either use your phone's camera or look for the name of the medication from here.

Using your camera

The camera scanning screen in iOS 16 public beta
You can scan a bottle or box to upload your medication.
  • If you have a prescription bottle on hand, tap the Camera icon and take a picture of the label.
  • Grant permission for the Health app to access your camera.
  • Tap Get Started and place your prescription bottle or box in the center of the frame.
  • You should then see a list of possible matches. Select the correct one. If it doesn’t show up, you can opt to add the medication via a manual search by tapping the Search by Name button at the bottom of the screen. (See below for more info.)
  • From here, you’ll be prompted to select your medication frequency. You can select from three options: At Regular Intervals, On Specific Days of the Week, or As Needed.
  • If you chose At Regular Intervals, enter how often you plan to take the medication (e.g., every day, every other day, every four days, etc.).
  • If you chose On Specific Days of the Week, enter which days you need to take the meds.
  • In either case, select a start date and tap Done.
  • The next screen lets you schedule when you take your meds. Tap the green plus icon under the Time of Day subheading, and enter the time you want and the dosage. You can add several different times if you need to. You can also specify the dosage (one teaspoon, two tablets, etc.) by tapping on the dosage to the right of each time.
  • Tap Next.
  • Choose from a selection of pill shapes when prompted, then scroll down and tap Next. (You can skip this part if you’d like.)
  • If you did choose a pill shape, you can then choose the color for the pill shape you selected as well as the background. Tap Next.
  • Review details and add optional notes. Here’s when you can add a display name for your meds if you want added privacy.

You are done.

Using search

Step-by-step screenshots of how to add medication manually in iOS 16 public beta
You can also manually type in your medications, then select type and dosage.
  • Type the name of your medication in the search bar, and select the name that pops up.
  • You’ll then be prompted to select the medication type (i.e., tablet, extended-release tablet, liquid-filled capsule, etc.).
  • After that, enter your dosage.
  • From here, you can follow the steps outlined above.

You will get notifications on your phone if you take your medication at certain times. When you tap the notification, you will be asked to log all of your medication, or snooze the alert for 10 minutes. It is possible to do this from the Apple Watch, but you will need to install the watchOS 9 public alpha first.

Directly log your medications

If you miss a notification, you can log your medication in the Health app on the iPhone or the Medications app on the Apple watch.

On the iPhone

  • From the Browse tab in the Health app, scroll down and tap on the Medications menu.
  • Under the Log subsection, hit the plus button next to the medication you want to log.
  • You can either tap Mark All as Taken or, under each medication listed, tap Skipped or Taken.
  • If you want to edit details like time and dosage, tap the blue link under the name and dose of the medication.

On the Apple Watch

Medication logging screen shown on the Apple Watch Series 7
Logging from the Apple Watch is easy.
  • Press the Digital Crown to access your apps. The icon for the Medications app is a blue and green pill on a white background.
  • Scroll down to Your Medications.
  • Tap on the individual medication. If you want to edit the dosage and time, you can do so by tapping the Amount Taken and Time Taken buttons. When you’re satisfied, tap Log.

Archive and export your meds

You can't remove medications that you uploaded, so you want to be aware of which ones. This is the newest version of the operating system. You can archive any medication you no longer take.

You’ll want to be mindful of which medications you upload, as you can’t delete them

To archive a medication:

  • Under the Your Medications list, swipe left on the medication you want to archive. You should see a yellow Archive button appear.
  • Tap the Archive button.
  • Alternatively, you can tap the blue Edit link next to the Your Medications subsection.
  • Tap the blue file box icon next to the medication you wish to archive. It will then appear below in the Archived Medications list.
  • If you later start taking the medication again and wish to add it to your list from the archive, tap the green plus icon next to the medication.

If you archive a medication, you should know that it won't show up in your schedule. If you export a PDF of your medication list, it will not show up.

To export your medications list:

  • Go to the Browse tab and scroll down to the Medications menu.
  • Look for the blue Export Medications List PDF link.
  • Tap the link. You’ll see your name, your date of birth, and a list of your current medications.
  • To finalize the export, tap the share icon in the upper right-hand corner.
  • From there, you can choose how you want to share the PDF (e.g., AirDrop, text, email, printing, etc.).

It's all done. If you have a lot of drugs or want to log over-the-counter drugs, the setup process can take a while. If you want, you can always add more meds later if you need to.

Victoria Song is a photographer.