“More productive, Comfortable, Not drinking too much, Regular exercise at the gym…”

Apple, WWDC and Health

Next month I’ll be in London for one of the Monty Python reunion shows. In their 1983 movie, The Meaning of Life, Michael Palin played an condescending hospital manager who wanted to make sure everyone appreciated the machine that he had bought, the one “that goes ping”. The joke was based on the notion that hospitals-know-best and that technology was one way that healthcare can assert its power over patients.

31 years later and the iPhone in my pocket outstips any machine the hospital has that goes ping. For instance, the computers in my hospital run Windows XP Professional, an operating system from 2002. Meanwhile yesterday, Apple announced Health, an app that will come as standard in iOS 8, the next revision of Apple’s mobile iPhone/iPad operating system. It’s not the do-everything, life-saving app that some people will have been expecting, but it’s a subtle statement of intent and when taken into consideration with Apple’s announcement HomeKit and SDK extensibility yesterday, there’s a smart long game ahead.

Let’s break down what all that means:

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Who put these fingerprints on my imagination..?

It’s amusing how quickly a technological behaviour can be learned and taken for granted.

I upgraded to an iPhone 5S when they came out (from a three year old iPhone 4). In case you don’t know, one of its key selling features is Touch ID. This is a fingerprint sensor built in to the home button, i.e. That solitary button that sits under the screen on every iPhone.

I have been an iPhone user since the start. Building Touch ID into the home button means that the button itself has changed for the first time since the original iPhone in 2007. It is now flat, instead of mildly concave; it doesn’t have a small rounded square printed on it; there’s now an imperceptible extra ring around the button; and it feels nicer.

But most importantly it is useful.

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