Connected All The Time

So there is a story on Mashable called The Latest Tool in Medicine? The iPhone which highlights some studies where iPhones are being used to collect data as part of medical studies.

Yes, carrying around a powerful compute device, that you can interface with, that is connected to the mother ship for two way communications might result in some powerful new medical studies, advances, options and ideas. Duh.

It is not really the iPhone, it is the mobile, connected, compute device that people have with them all the time (and won’t leave behind) that is the key here. I love my iPhone, but that is not the advance, it is the connected device connecting to the patient/subject.

There will be huge things coming from this as has been written about elsewhere. Immediate detection of crisis events, more frequent sampling of data in studies, ability to trigger something to happen to the patient (administer something), etc. etc. Lots of things can come from this.

Push for Electronic Payments

I went in Chick-fil-A today while traveling and noticed they accept Apple Pay. Walgreens, McDonald’s, and Panera Bread are sites I visit regularly and now they accept Apple Pay. I try to use it everywhere it is available.

The point of this post is to say that we need to use this wherever it is available. We’ve got to get the balance to tip towards electronic payments, with their higher security levels, and away from sliding plastic cards through primitive readers.

Do your part. If you’ve not set up electronic payments on your phone (whatever kind) get it setup and start using it everywhere that it is accepted.

Apple Pay can be used at these sites. Samsung Pay here.

An Integrated Health Database

It is interesting to note that the Apple Health application isn’t taking off very quickly. Several of the related apps that I use do not share data with the Health database, but they are willing to take data from the database. The program Lose It! connects but only draw nutrient data from the database and doesn’t share its own data. Fitbit has not expressed much interest and is not sharing. It is even surprising that Nike doesn’t share data yet, but I suspect they will soon.

This database will not be valuable unless various apps are willing to share their data which many likely won’t do. These sites would prefer that users have to visit their applications or web site (to see ads) and they don’t want it consolidated elsewhere.

Several possible scenarios might unfold:

  1. Applications vendors will choose not to take part (share) and the database will never reach a level where it has a complete picture of one’s health. At some point in the future it will quietly disappear.
  2. New vendors and applications will arise who want to play in this space and they will supplant the incumbents by providing this connectivity and this integration and users will shift away from the leading apps today to these new ones. In short, this is a time of disruption. Or
  3. Apple will be the main user of the database and a few other parties and it will never go very far beyond where Apple invests.

All of his ignores legal and privacy questions or challenges which might affect it too.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Google and Apple got together and used the same integrated database so applications built on either platform could share in the same format? Oh, sorry, I was just thinking…

A few productivity ideas…

Thought I’d do a post, or several, on some personal productivity ideas. There are literally billions of lists or sites that will share with you the 11 things, or the 12 ways, or the 10 habits and I don’t want to add to that list. But resistance is futile and I must share some things that I use. So, here are some habits or methods or tools that I recommend. Feel free to ignore.

  1. Use Evernote. Get in the habit of saving receipts, pdf files, great articles, things you write, key things to remember, etc. to Evernote. Spring for the premium version and turn on 2-factor authentication and then use it as part of your memory. I can’t stress enough the benefit of using tools to remember and find things instead of depending on your memory. Change how you remember and find things and use Evernote.
  2. Use collaboration centric tools instead of stand-alone tools. Start using Google Apps(or similar) for work with others. Presentations, documents, lists, etc. No offense intended, but if you are doing things with the old office productivity tools and not using tools that are designed for teams, then you are locked into the past. There is a risk that you might be a dinosaur. Don’t be a dinosaur. Use the Google tools or similar.
  3. Manage your calendar and don’t let it manage you. Keep it correct and be looking ahead the next few days. If you can’t do something, even months in the future, then cancel it off your calendar. Respect those you deal with by honoring their time and yours. Be there on time and finish on time. If you are late to an appointment, then apologize. If you know of something years in the future, go ahead and put it on your calendar.
  4. Use a todo app on that smart phone in your pocket. Then everything you need to do, or must happen, or is related to an important deliverable, etc. is recorded on that todo application. You can use Reminders on the iPhone or you can use something far more powerful like OmniFocus which I use.
  5. Use an app like it) to save articles you want to read later. Install the app on your smartphone and you can read on the go.
  6. Use Feedly to aggregate all the web site you want to read. Then go there to catch up on the sites you want to follow instead of visiting all the different sites. You can use Feedly on your smart phone or Reeder to then read articles offline. Highly recommend. Then use Instapaper to save things you want to read later or send things you want to keep to Evernote. I use Evernote to save articles I want to save indefinitely. I use Instapaper as the holding place where I want to think about it further or I want to think about saving it longer. Evernote is only for the gems.
  7. If your todo app can accept email actions and put them in an inbox (like Omnifocus) then learn how to use this feature to forward emails that might require action later and turn them into todos.

There you go. Some thoughts on getting things done and staying organized.

Deep Integration

I watched the Apple WWDC today online. I think that today’s announcement was far more significant than it seemed. Releasing the iOS 8 developers kit with something like 4000 new APIs is stunning. Letting apps talk to one another and leverage services from one another is huge. The possibilities that are going to come from this can not be foreseen. Today didn’t seem like much, but I think it was. We’ll see later this year.

Seamless integration is a huge deal. Apple does that better than anyone.


I think I’ve seen the future and it looked pretty good. We visited Disney World last week and experienced their new Magic Bands.

magic bandThe band is issued to guests and it is used for several distinct purposes in the park. They are mailed to resort guests in advance or can be picked up upon check in and they stay with the guest when they leave. It seems that they are mapped to an individual and can or should be used across different visits.

The purposes that I saw include:

  1. Grant access to hotel rooms on the property.
  2. Map park tickets purchased to the band to then allow the wearer to enter the park by presenting the band to a reader. No tickets or other ID required. However, after the band is scanned, they want a finger print scan which is probably used to make sure the same band isn’t used by more than one person on that day. No pin or other identifier is needed.
  3. Purchases at WDW are completed by having the band scanned and then entering a pin number. Note that one has to have a credit card mapped to the band in advance to allow such purchases. The purchase requires both the band and the pin number.  The pin number is set by the wearer when the credit card loaded.
  4. And, some places in the park, custom experiences are mapped to the band and that person. In Epcot at the Test Track participants can design a car then after riding the ride, the performance characteristics for that designed car are graded against others. In short, part of the experience is customized and remembered in the park. The end of this is hard to imagine but I’m sure Disney is on it. The list of possible customization experiences are endless. I would guess this same thing is being done elsewhere or will be soon in the park.

Wearing the band probably let’s Disney track where people go in the park and they can do that by age, home, where they are staying, party size, etc. Again, the possibilities of data mining are endless.

The benefit to the park visitor is that you literally do not need to have money or credit cards or room keys to spend time on the property. You can buy souvenirs, food and whatever with the band, it allows you in the park and it opens your hotel door. It is an amazing experience to spend a few days where this is literally all you need.

I’d love to better understand the underlying security model, but I suspect Disney is on it.  And, some will be concerned about their privacy as Disney tracks their movements. However, it seems to me that you are choosing to go to the park and you can choose not to go.

Upon leaving at the Orlando airport, I had to go back to credit cards and cash. The women in front of me buying a drink paid with cash and then walked off with $1 bills falling on the floor. Somehow she didn’t close her wallet correctly. I would have rather paid with the band. I saw another person still wearing his in the airport. Guess he didn’t want to take it off.

Overall, an amazing glimpse into the future. Kudos to Disney for this advance.

Comments welcome.

Compound Actions

Siri is a fun tool to play with on the iPhone and I’ve enjoyed trying out different things it/she/he can do. However, what is missing is the ability to do compound actions or build up actions in a sequence. Siri can do remind you of something (an alert) when you arrive at a location which is great. However, I’d like to string more things together. For example:

  1. Send my son a text tomorrow at 2:45 PM tomorrow to wish him well on a test. (send the text at a later time, not just now).
  2. Remind my wife to pick up milk when she leaves the office. (i.e. put a reminder on her device to have something happen based on her location).
  3. Tell me a stock price rises above $40/share. (when an external trigger happens, then alert me).
  4. Remind me when the OSU football game is about to start. (look up the start time and set a reminder for then).

Siri can work with pieces of this information, but she can’t yet string them together. And she can’t interact with someone else’s device. Seems to me that these are the next steps.

These kinds of compound tasks remind me IFTTT which I wrote about earlier. If you’ve not tried that out, you should take a look.

The ability to do compound actions, where you can tie together one thing with another in a sequence or where you can connect disparate systems together in an easy way will further transform mobile and in fact corporate IT. The big monolithic IT systems that can not interoperate in this fashion will be dinosaurs.

Since we are talking about the iPhone, I would certainly like for Siri (and the iPhone Search) to interact with Evernote. It would be great to ask Siri to open up a document in Evernote.


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