Apple recently held its 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, and it’s no surprise that everyone wanted to know, “What new hardware did they release?” Although the yearly conference primarily focuses on development, it also has a history of unveiling the latest and greatest hardware. This year was a little different, with no big reveal of the newest iGadget or Macbook. Instead, a lot of focus was given to the latest operating system, iOS10, which Apple has made available to the public in beta 2 form. The final version of iOS10 will be available to the public later this year.
So what are iOS10’s new features and “cool factors”? On the surface, there’s a long list of what appear to be incremental advancements. However, many of these seemingly small changes have the potential to make a huge impact on user experience. And user experience is critical, particularly when people adopt technology that can help them with their healthcare needs. Ultimately, all the latest enhancements are user-experience focused. We’ve categorized a few of them below.
- Automatically unlock a Mac computer when your iPhone or AppleWatch is nearby
- Cut/paste/copy across platforms (Mac, iPhone or iPad)
- Integrate Apple Pay into the Safari browser
- Transcribe voicemail transcription with iOS
- Share files across all devices with deeper iCloud integration
Siri takes on a bigger role
- Siri is now part of macOS.
- Siri is now open for 3rd party application development.
- SiriKit – a way for developers to provide content through Siri:
- Enables iOS10 apps to work with Siri so content and services can be accessed with voice
- Extends support for messaging, photo search and phone calls to more apps
- Includes support for new services such as ride booking and person-to-person payments
Additional UX enhancements
All of these advances will eventually enhance the user experience across Apple’s offerings; however, some will immediately impact interactions with the most commonly used apps.
- Users can view photos, watch videos and listen to audio from inside notifications.
- Notifications will display live information so users can see typing in progress or watch a map update in real time.
- iMessages will let users interact directly with apps within messages and easily download an app.
- Maps will offer deeper integration with third-party apps. For example, apps that offer ride booking, restaurant reservations and other location-related services will be accessible from within maps, allowing users to book, track and make payments without leaving a map.
- Following are a few other UX advances:
- WatchOS got a makeover and will be much faster.
- iOS 10 announced updates:
- New lock screen
- Instant-on display for iPhone: just raise your phone and the screen appears (like the AppleWatch)
- More 3D touch functions
- App discovery and promotion via Search Ads
- Health data storage using the Health Level 7 Continuity of Care Document (HL7 CCD) standard
- Picture in Picture (PIP) for Safari (watch Netflix in a PIP window, for example)
- Invisible Ink: iMessage text can be garbled until you swipe over it, preventing others from reading the message on the lock screen.
What does it mean for healthcare?
Apple product users will likely welcome the latest enhancements, but how can they be applied to healthcare? Following are some possibilities.
Now that the Siri API is open to developers, app creators can access Siri as an integrated user interface within their own custom apps. This could allow users to easily log data about habits and activities: for instance, “Siri, record my pain level as ‘mild’,” now becomes an option for app developers.
In combination with the new instant-on display for the iPhone, users will now have access to more information directly from the lock-screen notifications. Let’s say an app is helping a patient track medication adherence; now their med reminder could have the built-in ability to track adherence directly within the notification and may even be able to allow them to initiate a prescription refill, all in the same notification experience. Notifications could even contain videos, which would be a useful tool for just-in-time patient education.
WatchOS3 will also bring several enhancements to the Apple Watch that can potentially create better user experiences. Support networks are often a big part of creating positive change in our habits, and now users will be able to share their fitness and health behavior data with their family, friends and personal trainers. This new level of sharing could provide instant feedback and encouragement within healthcare apps that are intended to help with positive behavior change and rehabilitation.
Health Data Storage
Users can now store their health records directly in HealthKit using the Health Level 7 Continuity of Care Document standard. This means health records can be encrypted and stored directly in-app with the ability to be imported from Mail, Safari, and other applications and compliantly shared with (and between) healthcare providers.
Greater Lifestyle Impact, Better Healthcare Outcomes
The latest Apple enhancements provide an opportunity to create integrated and immersive experiences for our end users across all the technologies they use. And in the healthcare space, Intouch believes that better user experience drives better adoption, greater lifestyle impact and better healthcare outcomes. It’s always exciting to see technology advance in a way that makes it more usable for humans.
For more information about newly released features, check out this MacRumors YouTube video.
If you’re interested in trying out some of the latest upgrades, here’s the tentative release schedule:
- Developers have access now.
- Beta 2 is now available to the public.
- Free upgrades will be available to everyone in Fall 2016.