iPhone 6 and Apple Watch demonstrate healthcare ambitions

The newly unveiled Apple Watch--Courtesy of Apple

Apple ($AAPL) just unveiled the iPhone 6 and its Apple Watch, and as expected, both have major healthcare implications. CEO Tim Cook described the innovations in a much-anticipated announcement about the company's new products as it attempts to show that it can continue to innovate in the post-Steve Jobs era.

The iPhone 6 contains a new health app featuring a dashboard that charts vital signs like calories burned, weight and heart rate. And the new HealthKit tool for developers allows them to access data that users choose to share.

"For example, you can allow the data from your blood pressure app to be automatically shared with your doctor. Or allow your nutrition app to tell your fitness apps how many calories you consume each day. When your health and fitness apps work together, they become more powerful," the Apple website explains.

Customers can also create an "emergency card" that includes data like their blood type or allergies that is available from their lock screen, Apple says.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch contains an accelerometer, heart rate monitor, and links to the iPhone GPS to track how far the customer has moved. The activity app measures calories burned, exercise done at the level of a brisk walk or more and the amount of time the user spends sitting in day. Different "rings" close when goals are met, such as 30 minutes of exercise a day. A workout app in the watch summarizes data about the user's workout, like how long it lasted.

So far smartwatches from competitors like Samsung haven't taken off. Much depends on Apple's ability to forge partnerships and agreements with other healthcare companies, similar to the music industry's cooperation with iTunes, the New York Times point out.

Privacy and regulatory concerns could ;also hamper Apple's healthcare ambitions. Companies are wary of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and cybersecurity concerns are growing, as demonstrated by the recent leakage of nude celebrities' photos onto the Internet. In response, the company has barred apps that store health information from using the iCloud storage platform.

Still, Apple's announcement demonstrates its intent to become a major player in the healthcare arena on the strength of its hardware and software.

The iPhone 6 goes on sale Sept. 19 and Apple Watch debuts in early 2015.

- here's more from Apple on the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch
- read the New York Times story

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