The Medically-Useful Edition Friday, May 26, 2017

Two Years In, What Has Apple ResearchKit Accomplished?, by Kate Sheridan, STAT

[M]uch of the early research scientists were doing with ResearchKit wasn’t clinical in nature; rather it simply studied the feasibility of using mobile apps to collect health data.

Now, however, ResearchKit seems to be on the verge of becoming medically useful. In recent months scientists have published new data on seizures, asthma attacks, and heart disease using the platform. And scientists are already looking ahead to the next milestone for the technology: Hacking our ubiquitous mobile devices to become potentially lifesaving medical monitors.

Superior Intelligence

Apple News Is Getting An Editor In Chief, by Oliver Darcy, CNN

Lauren Kern will leave her role as executive editor of New York Magazine on June 2nd for the Cupertino-based company, New York Magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss announced on Wednesday in a staff memo obtained by CNN.


"Apple has the audience -- all they needed was a superior editorial intelligence to guide it," Moss wrote in his memo. "They recognized that that person was Lauren, and of course we know they are right."

Facebook’s Instant Articles Platform To Support Google AMP, Apple News, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

The updated SDK will now include an extension that lets publishers build content that’s publishable in all three formats, beginning with support for Google’s AMP in addition to Facebook’s own Instant Articles. In the weeks ahead it will also include support for publishing to Apple News, though the company didn’t provide an exact launch date for when that feature would be added.

Camera Roll

Why Google Is Suddenly Obsessed With Your Photos, by Victor Luckerson, The Ringer

What more data could Google possibly need? The search giant has effectively achieved its longstanding goal of “organizing the world’s information,” if you consider only the written word. But even cofounder Larry Page has acknowledged that the company’s mission statement is outdated. The internet is fast becoming dominated by visual messaging, benefiting platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Google Photos, especially now that it’s been fine-tuned for sharing, is a back door into the social networking and chat functionalities that Google has been trying and failing to pitch to customers for the last decade.

Minutiae: The Curious App That Captures Your Unfiltered Life, by Liz Stinson, Wired

Camera rolls tend to look like Instagram outtakes, filled with moments that are good but not good enough to make the social media cut.

Daniel Wilson and Martin Adolfsson want to change that. Earlier this year, the duo—a neuroscientist and photographer, respectively—launched Minutiae, an app designed to document life’s less glamorous moments. It works like this: Once a day, at a random time, Minutiae prompts you to take a photo. You have one minute to respond before the notification disappears forever. You open the app, aim your camera, and then have five seconds to capture the moment. There’s no time to think about framing. No opportunity to look for something cooler to shoot. The result, Wilson says, is a more authentic snapshot of what your life really looks like. “You’re recording what you would not normally record,” he says.


Apple Releases New Earth Day Video At Sustainable Brands Event, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The video, which follows the theme of the previous Earth Day spots Apple released, focuses on Liam, Apple's recycling robot that strips iPhones down to their component parts.

Charcoal For macOS Makes It Fun To Turn Photos Into Charcoal, Chalk Drawings, by Aaron Lee, Apple World Today

AKVIS Charcoal 1.0 is a fun standalone application and Photoshop plug-in for macOS that lets you create charcoal, chalk, and sanguine drawings from photos.

Bear 1.2 Brings Sketching, New Icons, iMessage Stickers, And VoiceOver, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Bear handles sketches in a very similar way to Apple Notes: tapping the sketch button will load a separate canvas to draw on, and when you're done sketching, the canvas is added to the body of your note as an image. [...]

There are a couple main drawbacks to the sketching in Bear. One is that the Apple Pencil is not truly taken advantage of here; it simply acts as a dumb stylus, with no pressure sensitivity, tilt, or other custom input methods. Second, it is not possible to create or edit sketches on the Mac. You can still view sketches created on iOS, but they can't be edited.

Can Your iPhone Tell If You're Depressed?, by Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune

To find out whether a user might be experiencing a manic or depressive episode, the app tracks typing speed, how hard keys are pressedand the frequency of the use of backspace and spellcheck.


Why Video Games Are Delayed So Often, by Jason Schreier, Kotaku

The simplest reason is that, in game development, making an accurate schedule is impossible. Even the most conservative estimates at the beginning of a project can’t account for obstacles that will come up along the way. Sometimes a level that a game creator thought might take two weeks actually takes closer to two months. Maybe they’ll find out midway through production that their cool new idea for a combat feature isn’t fun, forcing them to spend months fine-tuning to make it better. And there’s never any way to predict how many bugs will pop up toward the end of development, which is why we so often hear that games are being delayed for “polish”—to catch and fix those bugs. These pitfalls don’t just affect first-time developers. Even the most experienced veterans wind up battling time.


Apple Confirms June 5 WWDC Keynote Will Be Live Streamed, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today added a new events page to its main website, confirming that its June 5 Worldwide Developers Conference will be live streamed and available to watch on the Apple website and through the Apple TV.

The Disappearing Computer, by Walt Mossberg, The Verge

All of the major tech players, companies from other industries, and startups whose names we don’t know yet are working away on some or all of the new major building blocks of the future. They are: artificial intelligence / machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and drones, smart homes, self-driving cars, and digital health / wearables.


I expect that one end result of all this work will be that the technology, the computer inside all these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion. Maybe even just a thought.

Are You A Self-Interrupter?, by Adam Gazzaley & Larry D. Rosen, Nautilus

One interesting aspect of this penchant for combining tasks is that we seem to have lost the ability to single task. Glance around a restaurant, look at people walking on a city street, pay attention to people waiting in line for a movie or the theater, and you will see busily tapping fingers. We act as though we are no longer interested in or able to stay idle and simply do nothing. We appear to care more about the people who are available through our devices than those who are right in front of our faces. And perhaps more critically, we appear to have lost the ability to simply be alone with our thoughts.

Bottom of the Page

Once upon a time, I used to watch some of the latest movies when they come out. Nowadays, I'll just let Netflix and Apple's Movie of the Week decide what to watch.


Thanks for reading.