Apple met with top health insurance providers about HealthKit partnership

Aug 22, 2014 - 12:29 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple is nearly ready to become the go-to place for healthcare providers to get all your personal fitness data, and along with meeting with hospitals to talk about the benefits of HealthKit, Apple has been talking to the countries biggest health insurance providers about partnering with its health initiatives.

Profiling the new trend of companies incentivizing employees to wear fitness trackers to get lower health insurance premiums, Bloomberg says Apple is trying to get UnitedHealth and Humana onboard for HealthKit, although specifics about the talks aren’t mentioned.

“Apple which has new health-tracking software called HealthKit that will be released this year and is said to be developing its own wearable device, has talked with UnitedHealth, the biggest U.S. insurer, and Humana, about its health initiatives, executives at the insurance providers said.”

Along with coming to Apple for information on their customer’s health, insurance companies could become one of Apple’s biggest iWatch customers. The article notes a number of companies like BP, Time Warner, and AutoDesk have partnered with FitBit to give employees detailed feedback on their fitness.

Under the Affordable Care Act, companies can now spend as much as 30% of annual insurance premiums on rewards for healthy behavior, which is great news for Apple, FitBit, Jawbone Up and other fitness tracker companies. 22 million fitness-tracking devices will be sold in 2014, with 66 million sold by 2018, and about one third of those sales coming from corporate-wellness programs alone.

Apple’s HealthKit initiative rolls out to the public this fall with iOS 8. The new Health app provides users and healthcare providers with easy access to detailed fitness information on everything from steps walked, dietary calories, vitals, sleep analysis and more.



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Tim Cook visits veterans and doctors at Palo Alto VA hospital, staff using iPads

Aug 22, 2014 - 11:05 AM - by sparkyscott21

In the photo, Cook is seen talking with a hospital staff member who appears to be using an iPad Air with special protective cover. The Apple chief visited the VA Palo Alto Health Care System today with California Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo.

Since its debut, the iPad has been making inroads into the medical sector as doctors turn to the tablet for everything from reference material to chart management. A big part of the iPad's success in the field comes thanks to a healthy selection of industry apps.

The iPad has curried favor as far back as 2011, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration green lit an app radiologists can use to view images and make mobile diagnoses.

Cook's visit comes one day after newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald surveyed the Palo Alto VA HCS as part of a nationwide tour of VA hospitals. As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, McDonald lauded the facility as being one of the best in the system.

"Palo Alto VA medical center is one of the crown jewels of our healthcare system," he said. "Every day, great care is delivered to veterans in every healthcare facility nationwide, but it's especially evident here in Palo Alto and that's why I'm here today."

America's Veterans Affairs healthcare system was thrust into the spotlight after it was reported that veterans were receiving subpar care, some of whom supposedly died waiting for treatment. The revelations led to an investigation that found a system fraught with trouble. Falsification of records meant to cover up excessive wait times, incorrect diagnoses and other scandals came to light, ultimately forcing former VA head Eric Shinseki to tender his resignation.

There has been no word as to the VA's official stance on iPads and it is unknown if other facilities in the system use the tablet.



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Apple's interest in reversible USB plugs detailed in new patent application

Aug 21, 2014 - 1:23 PM - by sparkyscott21

While a reversible "Type-A" USB connector may not meet the specifications of a certified USB cable, Apple has nevertheless shown interest in building one, a newly published patent application reveals.

The concept is detailed in a filing made with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that was published on Thursday and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Reversible USB Connector with Compliant Member to Spread Stress and Increase Contact Normal Force," it describes a standard-size USB "Type-A" male plug that could be inserted in either direction.

The filing is noteworthy because it comes as a number of new Lightning cables have appeared online, showing a reversible USB connector. This has sparked hopes that Apple might be planning to release such an accessory.

However, such cables would not be complaint with the official USB specifications — a move that might give Apple pause. And considering that reversible, non-sanctioned USB plugs have been around for years, it's possible that the leaked Lightning cables appearing online were made by third-party manufacturers and not Apple.

Still, Apple has clearly shown internal interest in simplifying USB cables, as evidenced by the new patent application. The filing describes a USB Type-A plug that is "180-degree symmetrical" with a "double orientation design."

Apple notes that existing USB plug connectors include an insertion opening with features that prevent it from being plugged into a port the wrong way. But it states that it can be difficult for users to determine the correct orientation, even with appropriate markings indicating which side should be facing upward.

"Users may incorrectly insert a plug connector into a corresponding receptacle connector, which may potentially result in damage to the connectors and/or user frustration," the filing states.

Apple says its own design could "reduce the potential for USB connector damage and user frustration" by allowing a cable to be plugged into a socket in either of two orientations. The concept also states that Apple could include structural support that would distribute stress, ensuring durability of the cable.

Reversibility was one of the key design decisions behind Apple's proprietary Lightning connection, which debuted in 2012 on the iPhone 5. It replaced the company's 30-pin connection design, which, like sanctioned USB Type-A, could only be plugged into a socket in one direction.

The USB Compliance Committee does have a new forthcoming connector — USB Type-C — that will be reversible. But the new, smaller

... [Read More]
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Report claims iMessage spam on the rise, but little evidence appears in support

Aug 21, 2014 - 1:20 PM - by sparkyscott21

Despite accounts of purportedly wide-ranging unsolicited marketing campaigns plaguing iMessage users in recent months, spam on Apple's over-the-top messaging service appears to be the exception, rather than the rule.

A mid-July report from internet security firm Cloudmark singled out a campaign — likely run by Chinese spammers — directing iPhone users to sketchy online storefronts selling what appear to be counterfeit designer goods, such as Oakley sunglasses and Michael Kors clothing. Consumers appeared to have been targeted by geography, with those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and New York City bearing the brunt of the assault.

Cloudmark indicated that the campaign, conducted via iMessage, is so widespread that more than 3 of every 10 unsolicited SMS messages in the U.S. could be attributed to it.

A followup article that appeared earlier this week in Wired — based on the same research — then decried iMessage as "being taken over by spammers." There appears, however, to be little evidence to support those claims.

A search of Apple's user forums, generally among the first places iPhone owners go to vent their frustration in such situations, returns relatively few results related to iMessage spam. The threads that do exist rarely boast more than 20 replies.

Cloudmark itself has previously admitted that iMessage spam may be difficult to discern from SMS spam in their tracking database, which depends on users to send in unsolicited messages that they receive.

Even when operating under the assumption that Cloudmark is properly identifying iMessage spam, the numbers hardly suggest that Apple's service is being "taken over" by nefarious individuals.

According to telecom industry research firm Heavy Reading, some 1.5 percent — or 120 billion — of the estimated 8 trillion SMS messages sent around the globe each year are unsolicited. That works out to around 328 million daily spam messages, of which Apple's theoretical share would be nearly 100 million.

Were this the case, it would hardly be enough to qualify iMessage as having been "taken over" by spammers. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company handles more than 2 billion iMessages each day, and earlier this year he revised that figure to "several billion."

At the lower figure, only about five percent of iMessages would be spam — assuming Cloudmark's 30 percent figure is accurate.

Of course, iMessage spam exists. Apple admitted as much last year with the release of a new support document detailing a process for reporting unwanted iMessages and the implementation of sending rate limits.

"Taken over by spammers," though, seems more than just a little hyperbolic.


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Apple faces preliminary injunction to remove 'Secret' from App Store, users' devices

Aug 20, 2014 - 11:29 AM - by sparkyscott21

Popular posts from Secret's web client.

A Brazilian judge on Tuesday ordered Apple and Google to not only remove anonymous social networking app Secret from their app stores, but also remotely wipe the software from devices in the country.

Judge Paulo Cesar de Carvalho of the Fifth Civil Court of Victoria names Apple, Google and Microsoft in the order, calling for the removal and deletion of Secret and the Windows Phone analogue Cryptic within ten days, reports local publication Link. After the probationary period, all three companies face a fine of 20,000 Brazilian Real (about US$8,860) for each day the apps remain in service.

It is unclear at this time whether the injunction ruling applies to iOS devices sold within Brazil, or all portables including imports and those used by visitors.

Judge de Carvalho's decision is in response to a proposed action from public prosecutor Marcelo Zenkner, who called for a ban on the apps, saying Brazil's constitution (PDF link) prohibits anonymous freedom of expression. The meaning of the constitution's Article 5 is debated in Brazil, though some believe anonymity should not be allowed when it infringes on fundamental human rights, the publication says.

Applying this line of thinking to apps like Secret, the takedown is meant to protect against the threat of bullying, or more specifically anonymous cyber-bullying. Zenkner's original civil action, on which Judge de Carvalho based his decision, cites a case in which marketing consultant Bruno Machado found nude photos published to Secret with overlaid text saying he is HIV positive.

The ruling shines a light on Apple's so-called app "blacklist," which can remotely disable an installed app by revoking its certificate. An iPhone, for example, periodically calls Apple's servers to retrieve a list of verified app certificates, rendering those on the blacklist inoperable.

There has yet to be a documented case in which the mechanism was used, however, meaning the Brazil order would be the first if an appeal is unsuccessful or Apple decides to comply with the judge's orders. Apple has thus far opted to remove offending apps, like unsanctioned tethering software, from the App Store, but leaves certificates in place. This way, the App Store gets around reimbursing customers who may have purchased the app while maintaining a tight hold on the digital marketplace.

Apps like Secret have come under fire recently for promoting faceless personal attacks, prompting stricter posting policies.



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2014 iTunes Festival adds over 20 new artists to concert lineup

Aug 19, 2014 - 12:18 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple is stuffing the lineup of its 2014 iTunes Festival concert in London next month with the additions of Jenny Lewis, Lenny Kravitz, SOHN, Jessie Ware, Ryan Adams and 16 other artists and bands.

The new acts will join the likes of Pharrell, Beck, David Guetta and Robert Plant at the Roundhouse in London, with the first acts taking the stage on September 1st followed by 29 more days of music. Tickets are free if you live in the U.K., but if you’re stuck in the U.S., all of the concerts will be streamed live to Apple TV and iTunes.

Here’s the full list of artists that were just added:

Just added:

David Gray
The Script
Gregory Porter
Jessie Ware
Jenny Lewis
Lenny Kravitz
The Script
Clean Bandit
Robin Schulz
Paolo Nutini
Charlie Simpson
Luke Sital-Singh
Eric Whitacre
Matthew Koma
Jess Glynne
First Aid Kit
Ryan Adams

Also on the lineup:

Pharrell Williams
Kylie Minogue
David Guetta
Sam Smith
Robert Plant
5 Seconds of Summer
Calvin Harris
Chrissie Hynde



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