Apple iCloud has implications for home health care

I amended this post with new information shown in red.

On June 6, at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, CEO Steve Jobs introduced iCloud, a new service that addresses a growing problem of keeping our devices in sync, especially since they now each have the ability to create and store data, images, music, and video.

iCloud stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. The service automatically uploads the content, stores it, and pushes it to your other devices, and it’s completely integrated with your apps. That way everything happens automatically, and there’s nothing new to buy or learn. As Jobs put it, “It just all works.”

Apple’s previous attempt to sync devices, MobileMe, worked with contacts, appointments, and mail, but it required each device to sync individually to a Mac or PC, and it cost $99/year. iCloud is FREE. It syncs automatically and wirelessly and works with appointments, contacts, emails, photos, ebooks, apps, and music. Add a new contact, for example, and it’s uploaded and stored in the Cloud and pushed down to your other devices. And changes made on any device are replicated on all other devices. Calendar entries work that way too, and with a new shared calendar feature, updates on your own calendar show up on your spouse’s calendar.

Next, Jobs introduced iTunes for the Cloud, a feature that allows users to instantly put all their iTunes purchased music on all their Apple devices. Buy a new song on one, and it’s downloaded to all. This, too, is free for music purchased on iTunes, and it only costs $24.99 a year for music from other sources. One reason Apple is able to do this, and similar services from Amazon and Google can’t, is the relationships Apple has with the studios. They don’t need to store everyone’s music library and only need to scan their purchase history and match it with the 18 million songs in their own library.

The $24.99 per year iTunes Match service works in a somewhat similar fashion, with no limits to the number of songs you can store. It minimizes storage needs by comparing the songs you’ve ripped or acquired elsewhere with the iTunes library to figure out if there’s a match. If so, the stored version is usually of a higher quality based on 256 Kbps AAC encoding.

What does iCloud do for home health care?

Apple did NOT announce the ability to apply updates through the cloud, but I think it’s coming, since it just makes sense. In Seniors Learn to Use and Appreciate iPad, I described iPad2 as nearly PERFECT for seniors, because iChat or Skype video conferencing lets them connect with family and caregivers, and because of the ability to interface between health sensors and monitoring services. I especially like the 3G version since it eliminates any complexity of Wi-Fi or a home network and can be used when away from home, except for one thing. You still need to sync with a PC to apply updates.

Adding remote update, a feature already available in many Android devices, does not seem hard to do. It would allow Apple to sell iPads and iPhones to people who don’t already have Macs or PCs and greatly expand their market. Apple is very secretive and great at not announcing future products, but this is a direction I think developers can bet on.

I’m happy to report that the latest information shows that the Remote Update feature I was expecting in a future release is already there, based on this comparison graphic from The Huffington Post.


Apples iOS4 and iOS5 mobile operating systems for iPhone, iPad and iPod

Image source: The Huffington Post

By announcing iCloud and iOS5, Apple has made the iPhone and iPad even better TeleHealth gateways, no longer requiring the complexity of synching to a PC or connecting to a remote service through a home network. The 3G and 4G versions of iPhone and iPad eliminate greatly expand Apple’s market reach, with the ability to target people with no PC or Mac and no Wi-Fi home network. Good work, Apple!

Basic Telehealth System, connecting patients, sensor devices, caregivers, and healthcare services

Derived from a paper by Iboun Taimiya Sylla, Texas Instruments

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