In an article today, The New York times tries to tie a meeting between Apple execs and several important figures in the FDA with the much rumored Apple smartwatch. While excitement around Apple's next big product has been at a fever pitch for months now, there has been more rumor and speculation than actual confirmed facts. The Times article states:
"A group of senior Apple executives met with directors at the United States Food and Drug Administration in December to discuss mobile medical applications, according to the F.D.A.’s public calendars that list participants of meetings.... given the prominence of the people in the meeting from both the government and Apple side, these were not your run-of-the-mill conversations...As The New York Times first reported last year, Apple has been working on a curved-glass smartwatch that would connect to a smartphone. The smartwatch will run a variation of Apple iOS and could include apps. Apple is expected to announce the watch this year."
All of this is fact. What we know for sure is that Apple execs met with Senior officials at the FDA about Mobile Medical Applications. What this will mean remains to be seen. Apple's CEO Tim Cook has indeed been promising something truly amazing from a new category of product since early 2012. During Apple's earnings call this month, Cook also drove the point home again that new product categories are coming this year. Apple may simply be laying the groundwork for them to develop products for the Health Care industry, a $1.6 Trillion industry according to the Times. The watch Apple is developing is widely thought to have a heavy focus on health and fitness, and last year, Apple "hired several people with expertise in medical sensors, including Mr. O’Reilly, the former chief medical officer of Masimo Corporation, which makes medical monitoring devices." While the Times is examining the smartwatch angle, MARK GURMAN over at the 9to5Mac reports:
Apple plans for iOS 8 to include an application codenamed “Healthbook.” The software will be capable of monitoring and storing fitness statistics such as steps taken, calories burned, and miles walked. Furthermore, the app will have the ability to manage and track weight loss. The software will be a pre-installed challenger to offerings such as those from Nike and Fitbit... Besides fitness tracking, a marquee feature of “Healthbook” will be the ability to monitor a user’s vital signs. The application will be able to track a person’s blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and potentially several other blood-related data points, such as glucose levels, according to our sources. The software is also programmed to allow users to enter details about their medications so that they could be reminded to take pills at scheduled times. This will likely integrate with iOS’s existing Reminders application. The “Healthbook” application is said to take multiple user interface cues from Apple’s own Passbook app, which is software for storing loyalty cards, coupons, and other materials normally stored in physical wallets. The new health and fitness application’s interface is a stack of cards that can be easily swiped between. Each card represents a different fitness or health data point. The prototype logo for “Healthbook” is similar to Passbook’s icon, but it is adorned with graphics representing vital signs. Sources warn that the health functionality could ultimately be removed from iOS 8 before its scheduled introduction. Apple develops several features for future operating systems and then finalizes which features make the cut for the release closer to launch.
If anyone can revolutionize another industry with a groundbreaking new product, Apple is the one to do it. The hardware they do it with though, should be just as interesting as the innovations it brings to market.