Thursday was a pretty big day for the technology community: Google is finally outed its Pixel 3 smartphones; Amazon unveiled its Alexa Look personal shopping assistant and Kindle Oasis; and Apple announced several new products, but the biggest announcements came from health-oriented features of Apple Watch.
Most notably, Apple has more than doubled the amount of long-term health data that users can use to access personalized health analytics. A new service called Activity Premium will be included in Apple Watch Series 4, and will also be available to non-Apple Watch customers through CareKit.
It’s unclear if this service is new, but the details are intriguing: Activity Premium will give you access to monthly workout reminders, heart rate alerts, and what Apple calls “granular data,” such as whether you have sleep apnea or if you drank 10 drinks last night. All of these health features will be available to customers with data from Apple Health, the Apple Watch’s sensor-tracked health stats service.
Health data visualization and coaching are both major areas of interest for sports teams, sporting apparel companies, and health and fitness enthusiasts, and this new Apple Watch service looks like a nice addition to a crowded marketplace. However, these features also underscore just how much different Apple Watch (and, now, Apple Watch 3) stand from other smartwatches. It’s about as much a piece of work as your iPhone.
One major difference is the way that the Apple Watch imports third-party data. While most other smartwatches import user data on a device-to-device basis, the Apple Watch downloads data through the cloud so it only supports what it can connect to. If a user has a lot of different information collected and kept in the cloud, he/she will want to keep it in a centralized location.
Likewise, the app Apple Watch apps can build on the back end are very simple: Users can upload tons of information (millions of miles walked, thousands of hours exercised, and sleep quality) from their Fitbit or Nike device directly to Apple Watch, taking more control over your data.
In all, this is a neat new feature, but it’s unlikely to be a game-changer for many people. It’s unclear if users will want to pay for this type of insurance plan, but Apple’s other announcements are a much bigger deal: The world’s largest tech company has revealed more than $60 billion in services revenue in two months, fueling strong quarterly results.
Today, we saw an excellent and once-in-a-lifetime combination of two epic tech companies: Apple announced it would help its customers manage their health by offering and making the data it’s stored in accessible through the Watch and an app store, and Google announced that its latest smartphones would finally be able to connect with your local pharmacy.