Nov 15, 2019

Apple "research" app brings health data to the upscale masses

There are three longitudinal studies on the Apple Research app. Photo: Apple

Apple released on Thursday an app for iPhone and Apple Watch users to participate in three longitudinal health data studies.

The big picture: Apple is just one of several Silicon Valley companies investing in health tech and transforming the future use of health data. Clinical trials via phone could increase participation rates, compared to traditional in-person studies.

  • Apple addresses privacy concerns by promising not to sell user data and allowing users to pick what they want to share, among other options.
  • Apple is funding the research, while health agencies and educational institutions will study and track the data. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Brigham and Women's Hospital, American Heart Association and World Health Organization are conducting the research.

The voluntary studies:

  • Track heart beat to learn early warning signs of atrial fibrillation, heart disease or declining mobility.
  • Track menstrual cycles and how they relate to women's health conditions such as infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Collect headphone usage and environmental sound exposure data to track hearing impact over time.

Yes, but, per NYT: Data from iPhone and Apple Watch owners is an unrepresentative sample of society. "People who use iPhones have a median income of about $89,000 compared with $64,510 for Android users, according to recent data from Comscore."

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Tech giants reach further into health care

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Big Tech, already under a withering spotlight from Congress for mishandling some user data, is elbowing further into health care — a world defined by its privacy pitfalls.

Why it matters: Giant companies have earned regulatory wrist-slaps for fumbling sensitive personal information, but the stakes are much higher for poorly protected health data.

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019

Apple sues former employee over new chip venture

A picture of Apple Park, Apple's "spaceship" campus in Cupertino. Photo: Ina Fried

Apple is suing a former employee who started Nuvia, a server chip startup that has hired at least 8 former Apple workers.

Why it matters: The suit is already bringing forth unusual disclosures from inside the secretive tech giant, including allegations Apple illegally searched its former employees' private text messages.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

Hawley bill targets Apple and TikTok ties to China

Josh Hawley. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, a prominent big tech critic, will introduce legislation Monday meant to protect Americans' online data from flowing to China and other countries that raise national security concerns.

How it works: Hawley's bill takes aim Apple and TikTok by prohibiting American companies from storing user data or encryption keys in China, and preventing Chinese companies from collecting more information on American users than necessary to provide service here.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019