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:
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.