If the rumors are to be believed (and a handful of leaked photos), Amazon.com will announce a smartphone at a press event today. The feature set is intriguing and, if true, it could alter the way we consume data, play games and shop.
The smartphone space is a crowded one with Apple's iPhone, devices from Google, Samsung, HTC and LG – so another entry will be fighting to get some attention. There's also the BlackBerry still struggling to maintain marketshare after it nearly dominated the space just a decade ago. But a phone backed by Amazon and tied seamlessly into what it has to offer will likely give it the same popularity as the Kindle.
The phone is rumored to have a 3-D interface, which will be huge for gaming. Mobile gaming is becoming a big part of the gaming industry and by some estimates will be a $60B market in the coming years. 3-D would push the space further still and far beyond the simple Candy Crush games.
Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) was just that, an annual event where all the people who make the programs, apps, widgets and wonderful things we love to use with our iPhones, iPads and Mac's congregate to learn about what's new "under the hood" from Apple.
In the past, Apple has used this event to take the wraps off new computers and new phones, but this year it was all about the software that runs those phones and computers; and what they showed off was actually quite great. We're getting an entirely new operating system on our iPhones and iPads and we're also getting a new operating system for our Mac computers and the two will be very tightly integrated with each other.
One of the biggest announcements of the day that I think is a game changer is HealthKit.
Let's rewind the tape for a second: remember when the iPhone didn't have App's or an App store? All it could do was make calls and check email. But, when Apple opened the device to developers it exploded with literally tens of thousands of apps that do everything from find you a date to help you navigate unknown subway systems to finding cheap gas. It will do all of that and so much more with health and create an entirely new eco-system of devices and apps that will keep us healthy.
Right now there are a handful of devices that work with apps for our health. For example, I have a Bluetooth heart rate monitor that I wear when I go on a bike ride that keeps track of my ticker and the app (thanks to my iPhone) keeps track of the terrain. When I wrap up a workout, I get a recap of where I went and how hard my heart had to work.
But let's go beyond that.
Now, an HMO or Health Network could create an app that centralizes all your health information. With it, they could create devices that keep tabs of your blood sugar, your heart rate, your weight even your blood pressure. The devices could be keeping track of all your vitals and sending that information to your phone and the app could collect it, encrypt it and send it to your doctor. Your normal healthy day could equal a visit to the doctor– or lack thereof. Suddenly your annual physical isn't necessary because your doctor can check on your health when he needs to.
This could also be great for an elderly parent or grandparent who is diabetic or has high blood pressure. The doctor could get daily updates on your relatives health– allowing them to live their life as they do yet always have a monitor on their health. If something seems unusual, the doctor would be sent an alert and could act upon it– skipping over the entire need to make an appointment when something goes wrong, waiting for said appointment and going into the office.
Apply this to, say, an expecting mother. She could have a heart rate monitor and perhaps a yet-to-be-created device that can hear the heart of her baby. With an app she could be in constant communication with her medical professional to ensure she and her baby are healthy.
At the end of the day, tens of millions of people are carrying around iPhones. If those iPhones can keep tabs on their health and relay that information to the right people it will be a total game changer.
And these are only the examples we can think of now. I certainly couldn't think of Candy Crush or Flappy Birds when they opened the App store– so the creative minds will certainly think of even more amazing ways to make use of health and ensure that we are healthier in the process.
I remember the first time I used it, in 1993.
We huddled around a monochrome computer (1-color monitor, it was yellow) and my science teacher pulled a piece of paper from her fanny pack that had instructions for us to dial into a computer the next town over.
Once connected, that computer dialed into another computer that connected us to NASA so we could read public information about space shuttle flights. It was amazing to see all that information slowly scroll by as lines of text on the screen.
It looked like this:
Then, came the web, and the first web page:
And the first web browsers:
Then the world wide web became a part of our life.