Apple's iOS 9 And Mobile-Powered Anticipatory Computing: The Implications For Health

This week, Apple released the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 9 to the masses. While iOS 9 brings many new features, marketers have been paying particular attention to the fact that Apple has made it possible for users to block advertisements on mobile websites. Interestingly, currently applications utilizing this new feature, such as Peace, have quickly surged to the top of Apple’s App store suggesting that people are eager for ad blocking software. 

Another interesting fact about iOS 9 is that Apple is taking steps to make its mobile devices more personalized and responsive. Apple has touted iOS 9 as a much more “intelligent” operating system because of a feature they have included called “Proactive Suggestions.” According to MacRumors, Proactive Suggestions transforms the “iPhone into a lifestyle management tool,” which has the ability to analyze data about how people use their phones and automatically offer suggestions, open applications and more based on this information. 



Using data collected via mobile devices and other sources to proactively provide users with personalized information, streamline daily tasks and more is called anticipatory computing. To be honest, Apple is late to the anticipatory computing trend. Google has been much more aggressive about using email, calendar, usage and movement data to provide Android users with just-in-time information such as traffic and weather forecasts. But, the fact that Apple has introduced Proactive Suggestions indicates that anticipatory computing is going to become even more important in the months to come. 

The rise of anticipatory computing has significant implications for health. Back in 2013, I introduced a trend called “just-in-time health information systems.” In a Marketing:Health column explaining this trend, I talked about how health and device data could be used to craft and deliver highly personalized content to consumers and physicians automatically — without them having to proactively search for this information. 

At the time, a few startups and health organizations were building the data-device-analytics infrastructure needed to create and operate just-in-time health information systems. Today, because mobile devices have become more powerful (as indicated by iOS 9), these tools and technologies are now less expensive and more accessible. As a result, we are starting to see these technologies being used in healthcare to: 

  • Improve our ability to understand when people with mental illness may be in danger and proactively provide support before a crisis emerges 
  • Boost adherence and compliance by predicting which types of people are more likely to stop taking medications and engage with them proactively 
  • Encourage healthy lifestyles by providing contextual information about food, fitness and recreational facilities and more based on behavioral data collected from emails, calendars, mobile and other sources 

We should expect Apple to expand its anticipatory computing activities over the coming months and years. Significantly, the next version of the Apple Watch operating system provides developers with the ability to create native apps that are less reliant on the iPhone for data and brainpower. Given that Apple views the Watch as a health-focused device we can expect third party developers and the company to expand Proactive Suggestions to this wearable in new and interesting ways to support exercise, diet and even therapeutic-related activities. 

Will anticipatory computing make it easier to reach, inform and persuade patients, caregivers, physicians and others? Perhaps. Our research suggests that consumers are very interested in using health software and devices that deliver personalized and relevant content and data. 

Clearly, health organizations should be looking very closely at how anticipatory computing technologies can be used to deliver health content and information just-in-time to patients, caregivers, physicians and others. As usual, leaders in this area will thrive, while laggards will have an increasingly hard time keeping up.

2 comments about "Apple's iOS 9 And Mobile-Powered Anticipatory Computing: The Implications For Health".
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  1. Bill Jackson from EPAM/Empathy Lab, October 1, 2015 at 7:57 a.m.

    Fard has been a long-time advocate of wearables providing actionable data. Featuers leveraging anticipatory computing has the potential of being one of the most exciting versions of this. A co-worker, who is an analytic guy, just purchased one of the new Jawbone bands specifically because their software asks for contexutal data to go with his activity data (heart rate, sleep patterns, etc.) and then makes recommendations. I have not seen much of any reporting on this offering form Jawbone.

    I think the challenge will be if companies can navigate anticipatory computing while avoiding features which might fall under FDA regulatory oversight. Or, can you have an un-regulated device (i.e. Apple Watch) combined with an app which makes medically relevent diagnosis and prescribed actions which may require FDA oversight?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 12, 2015 at 8:02 a.m.

    It sure should, Bill, and more than that. Medications need to be adjusted or stopped, not to mention other activities. Unless there is constant MD professionals monitoring, the dependency on machines to determine more serious consequences of activities and pill popping, be prepared for so many problems. Lawyers, rev your engines !

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