Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FDA proposes Health App Guidelines...

It was bound to happen.  The FDA has decided to get involved in the Medical App process giving guidelines for apps running on iOS, Android and WebOS.  Full details are listed here:

FDA Guidelines for Apps

This is a comprehensive guideline for those wishing to write apps pertaining to medical management.

For an updated list of NIH approved apps, go to the following website:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Some likes and concerns for iOS 5 at WWDC 2011.

Stunning!  That's what I thought about the new updates to iPhone with iOS 5.  Along with elation, there was some concern.  Instead of presenting this in a paragraph by paragraph diatribe, I will list my thoughts on the updates individually, starting with the most obvious one that has only recently caught traction:

1.  iMessenger. --  Let me just say that I almost fell out of my chair when I saw Steve Jobs talk about this.  To me, this appeared to be $240 per year saved from this point onward or $20 per month for two 1000 texts/month plans.  Since most of the texting was between the wife and myself and friends who already have iPhones, I think that I would probably save in reality $120 per year, dropping the 1000 text plan to 200 for those laggards who refuse to pick up an iPhone.  This would drop the bill to $10 per month for 2 iPhones.

But hold on!  There are some issues here that will  need to be ironed out before I drop anything.  For starters, in my professional life I rely on text messages that have to be answered in a timely manner.  From what I have seen of the cloud services, for example with TODO, there have been some delays of up to 5 minutes getting the cloud to send an alarm down to my phone.  If this was an urgent text message from the family or work, those 5 minutes would seem crucial.  Is Apple willing to take the risk for something such as this?  But more importantly, will there be a bypass button to send a message via SMS instead of via Apple?  Secondly what of the stored messages?  Who keeps those?  Are they deleted permanently?

Personally, I rarely use texting as a 911 solution so the above may be hyperbole in the real world.  But it would be nice to know if this solution could really shave my monthly phone bill considerably.

2.  iTunes Music Match.  --  Well, this is not medical, but my goodness was this a whopper of an announcement.  I recall watching the keynote and having someone ask:  " So you can only do the songs that you buy on iTunes?  Epic fail dude...."  Only to hear Mr. Jobs say those magical 3 words, "One More Thing!"  The announcement of being able to convert your entire library into 256 khz pieces was enticing.  And with a 25,000 song limit, this seems like a lifetime of music for conversion to the digital cloud.

And then I got to thinking.  Was this the music industry's way of capitalizing on all of the "uncaptured" revenue from sources such as Napster, Limewire etc?  A sort of Amnesty for downloaders?  Or an admission of "We don't care where you get your music from, as long as you use this locker to store it for $25 per year."

And then I heard about the way in which iTunes and iCloud would assess whether you had a song or not - by reading Metadata in the song.  This is obviously laden with future abuse!  Metadata could scream " Lady Gaga " while actually representing " Madonna " only to have iCloud download Lady Gaga.  Increasing the clever meta data hound with more "free" music.  It could be that all of this washes out with the $25 per year subscription plan.

The good?  You finally have all of your music in one place, without the need to use that wretched USB dongle to the PC.  It's a great idea.

3.  The Camera Software --  Wonderful and about time!   However, kudos could have been given to the real mavericks who championed using hardware buttons in the first place.  Somehow I thought that the hardware button issue was to prevent newer additions of hardware becoming incompatible with the software in question.  But what do I know?

4.  Still lacking or at least not mentioned.  CUSTOMIZED RING TONES FOR SMS.   Read my other posts for my opinions on this.  Steve !  I cannot get rid of my pager if I cannot have this feature.

5.  Read Later.  Somewhere in the world a man by the name of MARCO ARMENT is fuming vociferously as his creation becomes a part of an operating system, reducing his potential revenue significantly.  I would have much preferred Apple to have purchased Marco's company.  His idea was really original and super for cross platform use.  I can use Marco's product on my Kindle, Mac, PC or iPhone.  I was surprised to find it here.

While on the subject of "gentle annihilation," there appeared to be features taken from other apps throughout the session.  If you're a developer, you have to be scratching your head on some of this.  I know I was.

6.  Still lacking.  The codec issue.  Will Apple ever support Divx or other non Quicktime codecs?

7.  iPhone Notifications.   --- Wow, about time on this one.  The present notification system was great for 2007, but not now.  This one looks like a winner.  Non obtrusive and I like the idea of not having to open my phone to get things to view my messages.

8.  Missing ---  iPad Guest Login.  Handing off my iPad to someone to demo is a no go when I have my email available for all to peruse.

9.  Wireless Synch.   Thank You.   Enough Said.

10.  Calendar formation without the PC.  --  Hopefully this means that I can make contacts separable by whatever criteria I choose - ie. Work/Home/Family etc.   This is sorely lacking in iOS 1-4.  All of the folders and separation are done on the PC in another application outside of iTunes.  The integration issue is going to entice me to leave Google's email and calendar servers.  I have always wanted to sync my calendar with my wife's so that we can figure out vacations etc.  Without a Mobile Me account, this wasn't easily attainable.  In addition, we didn't really want to have every single detail of our lives given to Google.   Don't get me wrong, I like Google, but having commercials interrupt my email and directing ads to me during the reading of emails is just not my cup of tea (We had a death in the family a few years ago and while making funeral arrangements found ads for caskets - that was a bit too much for both of us).  Apple's new calendar set up is really nice.

11.  Reminders.   -- Interesting.  My wife has not been a fan of TODO due to its complexity.  The idea of this program going across all iOS devices is appealing.  For me, I still love TODO, so I will have to see how this one pans out.

12.  THE CLOUD.  Well what can you say about this?  It's nice and the implementation looks really good at this point.  Will they open the cloud to other documents though?  Will Microsoft files be allowed in the cloud?  How about documents that do not currently run on iWork?  Will the cloud be accessible by third party vendors?

Where I see this coming into play was represented by several things that happened a few weeks ago.  My wife and I were working on a document together.  When it came time to store the document, we had an issue.  We had to put the document on a Mac for further editing.  Emailing the document worked, but that really was not an optional thing to do.  Now, we will be able to have the document pushed to each device and we can work on it together.   I really like that.

One worry about the cloud is the idea of automatically downloading apps to unsuspecting people.  For example, will my kids automatically get songs that I download to my iPhone because they are on the same account as me?  Is there a way to separate ownership of devices other than the use of the Apple ID?   Without the software in front of me, I cannot tell.

Overall, I have to say that iOS 5 is going to be a great update to iOS .  On the PC side, OS X Lion is a bit iffy.  I am still in love with the independent software providers and I am seeing a push to centralize everything.  That may not be the best thing in the world.  One thought that I had with Lion is what do you do if your computer crashes?  Initially, one would put in the DVD which acted as a Rescue Disk.  What do you do now?   More on that later..... For now, I am looking forward to OS 5.