FDA meeting, iOS 8 rumors point to fitness focus for Apple’s “iWatch”

A sixth-generation iPod Nano, embedded in a watch band.

Of all the Apple rumors to circulate during the Tim Cook era, the “iWatch” has been one of the most persistent. The rumors kicked off a year ago, when the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both reported on Apple’s internal smartwatch experimentation. Shortly afterward, Bloomberg reported that Apple had a team of as many as 100 product designers iterating on different versions of the watch and that it might run a version of iOS when finally released. (Rumors that we’d see the watch in 2013 didn’t pan out as you may have noticed.)

Now the New York Times is throwing more fuel on the iWatch fire, citing a mid-December 2013 meeting between FDA officials and Apple employees about “mobile medical applications” as evidence that Apple is still pursuing a smartwatch-like device with “health-monitoring” applications. The Times cites the prominence of the people involved as a sign that this was not just a run-of-the-mill meeting. On Apple’s side, the list includes SVP of Operations Jeff Williams; VP of Software Technology Bud Tribble; VP of Worldwide Government Affairs Cathy Novelli; Michael O’Reilly, who was previously Chief Medical Officer at a medical technology company called Masimo; and Government Affairs staffer Tim Powderly. The FDA participants were Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, and Legislation Sally Howard; Center for Devices and Radiological Health director Jeff Shuren; Senior Policy Advisor Bakul Patel; and Policy Analyst Jeff Shiffman.

The Times article was followed shortly afterward by a report from the generally well-sourced 9to5Mac, which claims Apple is working on a built-in application called “Healthbook” for iOS 8. According to 9to5Mac’s sources, Healthbook will take visual cues from the existing Passbook application, and it will be capable of monitoring and tracking “blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and … glucose levels” among other things. The app will be able to track weight loss and remind users when they need to take their prescriptions. The “iWatch” would supposedly contain the various sensors needed to collect and track much of this information, suggesting that Apple’s purported smartwatch would communicate with iPhones via Bluetooth or another wireless technology much as current smartwatches tether to existing iOS and Android devices. Assuming Apple sticks to its normal release schedule, iOS 8 should be available in late summer or early fall.

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via Ars Technica http://ift.tt/1jXrPEN


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