Since the launch of the original Macintosh in 1984, Apple has historically been hip with the Baby Boom and Generation X (demographics that include people who once used the word "hip" unironically). Those groups are nearing middle and old age now -- the oldest Boomers are nearing 70, and the youngest Gen Xers are turning 30. Older people need more healthcare, so it makes sense for Apple to get into that market. Monday, Apple introduced a new health app and HealthKit API.
HealthKit isn't just about connecting your iPhone to your Fitbit, Jawbone, or Nike Fuelband (Apple announced Nike as a partner). The prestigious Mayo Clinic is a partner. Most important of all, HealthKit can also connect to medical apps, and Apple has partnered with Epic Systems, the largest provider of electronic health records in the US. So if your fitness or medical device detects an anomaly, it can automatically send a message to your healthcare provider.
In addition to the big strategic stuff, Apple introduced an abundance of new features and capabilities for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. But I want to draw your attention to this article, which contains plenty of tasty tidbits for Apple enthusiasts like me: "20+ iOS 8 features Apple didn't talk about." Highlights:
- Voice activation for Siri -- just say "Hey Siri!" How's that going to work? Is the iPhone just going to be listening all the time? Isn't that going to kill battery life and raise privacy issues?
- "Siri will recognize and transcribe words as you speak, rather than waiting for you to complete your command." Nice! Android voice recognition works that way; it's much nicer than the current way Siri works, which is to wait until it thinks you're finished or until its buffer fills up before it starts to transcribe.
- DuckDuckGo support in Mobile Safari. Apple is really sticking it to Google. DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that's a darling of privacy advocates.
- Battery usage by app. I love this. My iPhone 5 has pathetic battery life. If the iPhone can tell me what app is the culprit, I'll be happy (particuarly if it turns out to be an app I don't really care about).
- An in-case-of-emergency card for the HealthKit app.
- WiFi calling. My colleague Dan Jones nailed this one; I'm giving myself a dopeslap for having missed it. This is huge, and it fits into an overall trend of carriers offloading traffic onto WiFi. I want to take a deeper look into how this works. (See T-Mobile Jazzed With WiFi Calling on New Apple iOS, Comcast Whips Up More WiFi, Cablevision Plots WiFi Market Disruption, and TWC & Charter Embrace Next-Gen WiFi.)
- Camera enhancements. Burst mode for the camera in older iPhones, panorama photos in iPad, timelapse video mode (sounds like some kind of automatic GIF creator -- one of the best features of Google+), and camera timer.
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