Apple fan club members were all-abuzz yesterday with the Apple “Spring Forward” event announcements concerning the Apple Watch, the new MacBook, HBO, and more. In case you weren’t streaming the event live at your desk like a number of techies here at Intouch, here’s a 60-second recap:

  • The new 12-inch MacBook is smaller than ever before (a stripped-down two pounds) and comes in gold, among other space-age colors.
  • The Apple Watch will be available April 24 and can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a standard watch to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the gold edition. (What’s up with the gold?)
  • Apple announced a new partnership with HBO which means anyone with an Apple device will be able to watch Game of Thrones without a cable subscription.
  • CarPlay – Apple’s in-car technology for built-in display – will be coming to 40 new car models this year. (No reference to the color gold)
  • And, Apple announced “ResearchKit,” an open source software framework that enables researchers and developers to create apps to be used in medical studies, “potentially transforming medicine forever.”

Among the announcements, ResearchKit was probably the biggest surprise – and also the most pertinent to the broader pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. “Now everybody can do their part to advance medical research,” says Apple. ResearchKit may help increase and expand clinical trial enrollment, for example, and also collect trial data more objectively and more frequently. Several collaborations are already taking place with major institutions such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Rochester.

While fans lauded the possibilities for ResearchKit to transform medicine as we know it, others expressed concern over data privacy.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Apple went this direction, given the ubiquity and reach of Apple products, the data collection possibilities, and the feel-good, PR-worthy message around the effort. Might Apple’s ResearchKit dramatically transform the way clinical trials are run? Might it someday help cure cancer? We may just be entering the golden age of mHealth.

Is Apple the new Big Pharma? We asked this question last summer on our blog, and with today’s ResearchKit announcement, it seems Apple is one step closer to answering “yes.”

If you’re anxious to learn more, below is a roundup of some of the more helpful articles I found around #ResearchKit. Though closer to the R&D-side of pharma, Apple’s ResearchKit vision is something anyone who intersects with patients, treatments, and tech should heed.

For related Intouch blogs on AppleWatch, mHealth, and wearables, check out our most popular blogs below, and watch here for further updates and analysis soon.

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