Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Apple’s mobile software is the company’s new profit engine

Given the inevitability of a new iPhone every year, the release of Apple’s iOS software is an annual news story. This year is no different.

The main takeaway is that Apple’s world-class mobile operating system is a still a bit of a mystery – in terms of how it’s evolving to fit its bottom line, that is. But this year’s news is about the Apple Watch 2.

You can read our full story here.

To be clear, Apple isn’t new to releasing new product cycles (iPhone, iPad, and Mac are all introduced with new software at the latest WWDC). It also isn’t new to the software cycle, either. Apple releases a massive update to the core operating system (MacOS) every year as well. The timeline on that is also flatter, however, with five major updates every two years on average.

But where all of those lines converge to create a yearly update cycle is on software developed by Apple’s closed Apple Watch and iPhone teams – that is, the iOS and Watch platform respectively. Apple has been consistent in letting people track health data through Health and the upcoming update to Apple’s health-tracking apps will bring that to iOS 15.

You can read my thoughts on the potential of Health on iOS here.

My view is that Health on iOS 15, if things play out as expected, could be Apple’s sleeper hit. Apple is without a doubt the best when it comes to capturing health data and while Health on iOS 15 won’t affect a significant chunk of the population – unless you work in an office, an Apple Watch is not something you’re going to wear outside the office – there’s a lot of data that can be captured.

You might know the basic idea of Health: You record your physical activity, and Apple can then pull that data and provide insights that suggest ways to actually improve your well-being, potentially even decrease the number of problems you have. But it doesn’t stop there.

Take vision: The Apple Watch has an optical heart rate sensor that can measure your blood pressure and help tell what medications are needed, and now you can record your exercise and do it with your wrist. (Hey, if it can track your own step, it can track your blood pressure and your eye health, too.) And the new updates to Apple’s Health app are just as impressive.

Now there’s a live HealthKit dashboard that lets you see your readings and automatically displays some results – you don’t have to open up another app. You don’t have to plug in a mini fitness tracker. It all just works out of Health. And its new analytics may push the Apple Watch beyond just being a gadget that you strap to your wrist.

All of the data that Apple collects on users and by users, from iOS to Apple Watch is owned by Apple, and that data is at the heart of Apple’s business. Take fitness tracking as an example: It can measure your goal for daily activity, then determine how long of a day you should exercise each day, help you change your daily activity schedule based on that, and then track and track that and see what you achieve.

Maybe you go to the gym once a week, or maybe your goal is something like 25,000 steps a day. Apple’s new fitness apps can all help you stay on target. Apple will get all of the data you collect and get it to the doctor as well as be able to even see how much your wellness impact on Apple and Apple stock.

And when you connect all of this together you get a more holistic picture of your health – including what you do, when you do it, and how much you eat, if you’re exercising regularly, if you’re taking medicine, and when and how you should take them.

While new iPhones and new iPad models won’t be announced on Wednesday at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, there is still likely to be a lot of excitement around Apple’s upcoming release of its mobile software – if you need a reason to be excited, here’s one.

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