Monthly Archives: April 2017

Apple Centers Health Data Strategy

Apple quietly has been strategizing to expand its growing healthcare business to include the management of digital health records, with the iPhone operating as a central data hub, CNBC reported last week. Apple has been in talks with numerous health industry groups that are involved in setting standards for the storage and sharing of electronic medical records, in a way that would help consumers gain more control over their private medical information, according to the network. The plan appears to be a natural extension of Apple’s recent health industry strategy, which includes its Research Kit, CareKit and HealthKit — platforms that allow developers to create apps that help patients, hospitals and researchers find new ways to collect, manage and deliver health data efficiently and directly.

“This has been an interest point as part of Apple’s strategy in the healthcare vertical for some time,” said Daniel Ruppar, digital health global program director at Frost & Sullivan.

Apple last year acquired Gliimpse, a medical records startup that helped collect data from different platforms and organized the information for patients. Thus far, Apple’s efforts largely have focused on fitness information, but in recent years it has moved into more focused healthcare delivery. For example, the company recently began work on developing sensors that could help diabetic patients manage blood glucose levels.  The challenge for Apple going forward is that it tends to attack new businesses on a global scale, and healthcare data requires dealing with a myriad of regulatory and privacy issues that cannot easily be synchronized across a single platform, Fogg told TechNewsWorld.

Also, the sensitivity of personal health data demands a high level of security and transparency, so that hospitals and patients can feel comfortable allowing that type of information to be controlled by an outside party, he said.

“I would hope that Apple is planning to use the iPhone to securely communicate personal medical information from sensor to a HIPAA-compliant cloud service, and that medical records are only permanently retained in the cloud service,” said Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research. While temporary secure viewing on an iPhone would be nice, it would be better to have another layer of device security sitting between the attacker and the EMR repository, he told TechNewsWorld.

Samsung’s Note8

Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Note8 smartphone, positioning the oversized handset as the ideal choice for those who want to do bigger things. The new Android-powered device’s larger Infinity Display features nearly bezel-less full-frontal glass and an edge-to-edge screen. The Note8 comes with an improved S Pen that will allow users to communicate in what the company described as more “personal ways.” The Galaxy Note8 is both water- and dust-resistant, and it supports fast wireless charging. Under the hood, it features 6 GB of RAM, an Octa Core 2.36-GHz Quad + 1.7-GHz Quad 10nm processor, 65 GB of storage, and expandable memory.  Although the handset is built around a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super OMOLED screen with a truly wide 18.5:9 aspect ratio, it still can be considered a true “handset,” as it can fit in most users’ hands reasonably well. The S Pen allows users to send handwritten notes and even create animated GIF files from videos. Samsung has touted this functionality as a true step up from traditional text messaging. The S Pen is more than a stylus, as it features a 0.7mm tip that is far more precise that the styluses that were used with Palm and other devices a decade ago. It also is truly connected to the device. It has 4,096 levels of pressure, and thus can respond to the touch of the pen tip more accurately. It has eraser functionality as well.  Another touted improvement in the Galaxy Note8 is its Always On Display, which allows users to receive and read notifications without unlocking the device. Preordering for the Galaxy Note8 began on Thursday. It will be available from major carriers, or as an unlocked version. The unlocked handset will retail for US$929.

Dual Cameras

Among its feature highlights are the Galaxy Note8 rear cameras as in plural. It is the first handset to feature two 12-MP rear cameras with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). These cameras offer both wide-angle and telephoto lenses, which give users greater control of the depth of field. Users can adjust the bokeh effect in preview mode, as well as after a photo is taken. The wide-angle lens has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid autofocus functionality, capturing sharp images in low-light conditions. The camera further offers a Dual Capture mode: Both cameras are utilized to take two photos simultaneously one a close-up using the telephoto lens, and the other a wide-angle shot of the same subject. In addition to the dual rear cameras, the Galaxy Note8 has an 8-MP Smart Auto Focus front-facing camera that can be used for video chats as well as selfies.

LG Unveils V30

LG Electronics last week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the LG V30, at IFA 2017 in Berlin.

Among the LG V30’s innovations:

  • An F1.6 aperture camera lens;
  • A glass Crystal Clear Lens;
  • The first OLED FullVision display;
  • Cine Video mode for producing movie-quality videos;
  • The Point Zoom feature, which lets users zoom in on any subject anywhere in the frame;
  • Cine Effect, which has 15 preset effects to give videos a movie-like look;
  • Premium sound with advanced Hi-Fi Quad DAC, sound tuning by B&O Play; and
  • Voice recognition.

Based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform processor, the LG V30 has a 6-inch, 18:9 QuadHD+ OLED FullVision display with 2,880 x 1,440 pixel resolution.

Premium Package

It comes with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB or 128 GB of ROM, and it can take microSDs of up to 2 TB capacity. The device has two rear cameras: a 16-MP standard angle with a focal length of F1.6; and a 13-MP wide angle with an F1.9 focal length. It also has a 5-MP wide angle front camera with F2.2 focal length. It runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat, weighs 158gm, has NFC, and has a USB Type-C 2.0 socket that’s 3.1-compatible. The V30 is rated at IP68 water and dust resistance, and it uses Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 wireless charging technology. Google Assistant is built in, and it comes in black, silver, blue and violet. Users can unlock the device through facial or voice recognition, by using its fingerprint reader, or by tapping out a pattern on the screen. The V30 will be released in late September — first in South Korea, then in the United States and other markets. Customers who download and install WRKSHP’s Beat Fever game will receive US$100 worth of in-game purchase credit. The LG V30 will be on par with other premium devices, said Ken Hyers, a research director at Strategy Analytics.

Features That Catch the Eye

“The V30 keeps LG in the high-end smartphone conversation, and in the way that LG chooses to specialize — digital imaging, both for stills and video,” observed Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC. “It’s a smart move, considering how much people use the cameras on their phones these days,” he told TechNewsWorld. While the V30 “has several features that set it apart from other vendors’ flagships, “one of the most important is that it is the first band 71-capable 600 MHz LTE smartphone, Strategy Analytics’ Hyers told TechNewsWorld. It will work on T-Mobile USA’s new 600-MHz network being rolled out over the summer, he said.

This is “a big deal for LG since it guarantees the V30 will receive strong promotion from T-Mobile, which is the fastest growing network provider in the nation,” Hyers added. LG “will need all the help it can get promotion-wise for the V30 during the upcoming holiday season, since its announcement is sandwiched between Samsung’s Note8 announcement and the announcement of three new iPhones,” he pointed out. The V30’s use of internal display technologies “is on par with Samsung’s deployment of OLED displays,” noted Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst at IHS Markit. It lets the V30 “take advantage of advanced features like VR and HDR streaming content,” he told TechNewsWorld. That advantage may be canceled out, however, as wireless carriers throttle content.

High-Priced iPhones

Apple made its long-awaited iPhone splash, accompanied by announcements of major upgrades to Apple Watch and Apple TV. The company launched two new generations of mobile phones — iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and iPhone X — with enhancements in photography and device security in all models. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are built for durability with a new glass back design and aerospace-grade aluminum bezel. They come in three colors: space gray, silver and gold. The phones feature a powerful new A11 bionic chip — the most powerful smartphone chip in the industry, and 70 percent faster than the previous A10 chip, according to Apple. Together, the camera functionality and the powerful chip are designed to provide a sophisticated augmented reality experience, with gyroscopes and accelerometers installed for accurate motion tracking. The 12-MP camera features a larger and faster sensor and high-quality video capture. The iPhone 8 Plus features dual 12-MP cameras and introduces portrait mode.

With the new glass back design, the phones can be charged wirelessly using the Qi ecosystem, with charging mats from Belkin and mophie available for sale. When AirPower is released next year, it will allow users to charge up to three devices at the same time, including the 8 and X phones, the Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPods. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will start at US$699, with 64-GB and 256-GB models available online or at the Apple store. The new iPhone X, powered by an A11 bionic chip, breaks the bank in terms of new security features and price point, starting at a hefty $999. The phone features an all-glass design on both sides, which provides a wider screen area for viewing, and a 5.8-inch Super Retina display. The phone uses a major new facial recognition authentication system, Face ID, which employes a TrueDepth camera system that projects 30,000 invisible infrared dots.

Describing it as an inflection point in the history of television, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced Apple TV 4K, which brings cinematic quality to television. The new device supports both High Dynamic Range and 4K technology, which has four times the number of pixels as traditional HD video. The Apple TV 4K features the A10 Fusion chip, the same one found on the iPad Pro device. iTunes users will get automatic upgrades of HD titles to 4K HDR in their existing libraries, and customers will get access to 4K HDR on third-party video services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and others. Users of the TV App, which works with Siri, will be able to get automatic updates of live sports, along with on-screen notifications of their favorite teams’ activities and breaking news. The app will be available this month in the U.S, Canada and Australia before expanding to France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK.