Yesterday’s Apple intros and implications for health monitoring

A knockout or a catch up? Now that the Hype Dust is settling (along with Apple’s stock price), let’s take a look at what we know today about the new, larger iPhones and the Apple Watch regarding health monitoring.

Where it was a catch up:

  • Size and screen in phones. Apple got the message: squinting at tiny type and swiping to enlarge is rapidly becoming yesterday’s pain. As smartphones and larger screens knocked out the Blackberry, Samsung led the way in sizing up and higher resolution–and others followed suit. The awful fact is that the smartphone market is aging, both in users and who’s left in the market to grow it, and we want to see, not squint.
  • [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Finally (drum roll), a sleeker smartwatch with fitness tracking, out sometime next year–and not just a sports model. The basic model is a rubbery Sport watch, the mid-line has a sapphire crystal, stainless steel case and (proprietary) swappable bands. The beauty is the upmarket version in gold with a leather band (left, courtesy re/Code).
    • Here Apple is up against multiple in-market competition from Fitbit to Moto to Withings to Samsung Gear–whose pricing is well below the starter Apple Watch at $349 in the $200 and below range.
    • The Apple Watch looks seriously great, distinctively thinner and it’ll be a prestige item. But does it track more and better? No. According to reports (updated today) this is what it has: heart rate monitor, pulse, daily activity for which you need the phone. No sleep monitoring. It also has to be charged every night. There may be other features from developers, but they are under wraps for now and will likely require phone tethering. (re/Code) It’s not a comprehensive lifestyle watch–yet.

Where it could be a knockout in healthcare:

  • Finally, a compelling reason for health care providers to ditch the old iPhone and not go Android. Healthcare providers in the US are heavily wedded to iOS: as of mid-2013, 68 percent of them had an iPhone and 59 percent an iPad along with other tablets. But their biggest complaint in working with apps and EHRs? 95 percent stated small screen size. (Black Book survey on mobile EHRs) A 5.5″ (Plus), even a 4.7″ screen helps a lot.
  • The Apple Watch may also be a strong adjunct to the iPhone in healthcare with its notification features, if they can be customized to the healthcare environment. There’s also an intriguing mention in ZDNet’s coverage of “Digital Touch, a tap system similar to Morse Code, can deliver messages to contacts quickly.”
  • But it might be another knockout for the iPad. Sales have been dropping–nearly 10 percent in the June quarter–and iPads need a refresh. But if you have a 5.5″ IPhone 6 Plus in the coat pocket with great resolution and usability, do you really need a tablet? (Unless you have healthcare enterprise apps that only run well on tablets).
  • Apple Pay. Your Editor is stretching a bit here, but it’s tap-to-pay with a security difference–fingerprint activated, and directly to the bank. Streamlined paying in healthcare with high-deductible plans could work very well in hospitals and for certain consumer pay services, and it gets rid of one more record to be secured by the provider. (Au contraire, the NY Times declares it a solution to a non-existent problem.)

The known unknowns are: IBM’s enterprise apps (notably not on display yesterday) and Health’s applications involving both the iPhone and the Watch, especially the sensors on the back.

We do know: Apple has finally moved past the Steve Jobs era, yet in keeping with his style. They are moving massively, partnering and retaining a premium on aesthetics and personalization. Health is not quite there yet. Samsung will be the Android leader and keep throwing new models and variants (liked curved glass) out there to micro-target users and please not-so-niche markets. They also play a global, mass-up-to-class game, customizing by country. Also powering Samsung is a sense of company (and national) prestige, along with even deeper pockets than Apple. Health is also their major commitment, though S Health has been more flash than reality.

For more, see: Apple Watch–A look at the hits and missesApple’s iPhone 6, Apple Watch rollout: Winners and losersIf Apple can’t stream an iPhone 6 event, is there really an enterprise story? (wondering where IBM was yesterday), Apple Watch: A slave of the iPhone?ZDNet.

More skepticism: Was Apple Watch’s health sensor team held back by battery concerns? (Mobihealthnews takes the cold water approach in rapping the lack of sleep tracking and the fact you have to charge it at night. But it’s thinner and the sensor design promises more to come.) Laurie Orlov in Aging in Place Tech Watch is underwhelmed by the Apple Watch and downright alarmed by Google Pay’s security.

Categories: Latest News.


  1. Interested to see what happens with Apple’s entry into the wearables market. Unclear how health apps will be effective and seamless since Apple just banned health data storage in iCloud and are revising the developer toolkit …. No easy health data integration for health apps means less useful potential.