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Will We All Live Appier Ever After? Welcome to the Ever Expanding Universe of iPhone Health Apps

In case you missed the recent announcement about Healthbook, Apple is now officially in the healthcare business. The last time they entered such uncharted waters was when they ventured into the music business with the release of the iPod. If Apple’s impact on the music industry is any indication, the entire health and wellness industry is about to be remixed and shuffled in ways we can barely yet imagine!

Fortunately, the latest Apple ad campaign (which has been running during the World Cup) does provide some clues about where things will be heading. Not surprisingly, the new campaign places the iPhone at the center of the known universe, and points to a fundamental shift in how mobility is affecting our lives, especially in terms of fitness and training.

Here is the ad—a full-tilt kinesthetic montage of running, swimming, and training that even Nike would be proud of. Of course, the real star is the iPhone, with each activity feeding it with more and more real-time data. In fact, in the space of 60 seconds, they manage to showcase a dozen cutting-edge apps.

http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/powerful/

At first glance, these various apps seem to be a somewhat random collection of cool fitness tools. However, we attempted to bring some order to things by way of the classic 4-quadrant grid. Through this lens, we uncovered several distinct genres that can help to guide you as both a consumer and a developer.

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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/170644273355596994/

Quadrant I: Device Needed, Multiple Activities
These apps rely on outside devices that work in tandem with the iPhone, and are geared to tracking a range of activities. As the Internet of Things takes hold, these multi-purpose devices will likely proliferate for health and fitness applications.

Misfit Shine
Shine is an elegant activity and sleep tracker that inspires you to live an active life, find out how active you are every day, and set goals to improve. Wear Shine anywhere on your body with a range of upgrades including clasps, sport bands, leather bands, and necklaces designed for comfort and style.

Activities: Multiple
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: Yes

Health Mate by Withings
Health Mate tracks your everyday activity using the sensors in your iPhone. Invite any of your friends to a steps challenge and get motivation to move more. Connect with Withings line of health trackers for a seamless Health Coaching experience.

Activities: Multiple
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: Yes


Quadrant II: iPhone Only, Multiple Activities
These apps rely on just the iPhone, and are geared to tracking a range of activities. They differentiate through excellence in tracking and the overall user experience. Choosing between these multipurpose apps depends on overall goals, the need for detailed tracking, and personal preference.

Wahoo
Wahoo Fitness is a running, cycling, and fitness app that harnesses the awesome power of the iPhone to transform the way you ride, run, and reach your training and fitness goals.

Activities: 2 (running & cycling)
Fitness tracking: ***
Special Device needed?: No

Argus – General Fitness
24/7 Steps and active Calorie counter, GPS mapping of Running, Cycling, and Driving; keeping track of Water, Coffee, and Tea intake; snapping photos of meals in one click.

Activities: Multiple
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: No


Quadrant III: Device Needed, Single Activity

These apps rely on an outside device that works in tandem with the iPhone, and are targeted for just one specific task or skill. Just as there are many types of tools in your tool chest, these types of task-dedicated digital health devices will likely prove to become endlessly popular in the years to come, especially as the cost of embedded chipsets continues to plummet.

miCoach Smart Ball by Adidas
Being able to control, strike, and manipulate the ball is the key to mastering the precision of Xavi, bending it like Beckham, or striking it like van Persie. With the miCoach SMARTBALL you’ll fine tune your technique and kick like a pro with instant feedback on power, spin, strike and trajectory, along with exclusive tips and guidance.

Activities:  1 (soccer)
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: Yes (special ball)

TRX Force
This is the ultra-enhanced digital version of the comprehensive, 12-week TRX Tactical Conditioning Program used in all branches of the US Military and by athletes of all levels to get the most out of their training. Featuring an extensive, indexed exercise video library, a randomized workout selector, benchmark tests, optimized countdown timers and agility and conditioning drills, the TRX FORCE Super App will push you beyond your limits to get you fit for whatever mission you face in your line of duty—or life.

Activities:  1 (core strength training)
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: Yes (training ropes)

Zepp Golf
Zepp Golf is a revolutionary training system (motion sensor + glove mount + mobile app) that helps you analyze and improve your swing. Just attach the sensor to any golf glove and swing away to get instant feedback and see your swing in 3D from any angle on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Stop guessing at how to improve and let Zepp show you how.

Activities:  1 (golf)
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: Yes (special glove)

Wemo
Belkin’s new WeMo system is a family of simple, ingenious products that use your iPhone and your home Wi-Fi network to connect you to the things and people you love. WeMo is your home at your fingertips. WeMo can control just about anything. (Not directly related to health, but can help you manage and create a healthier environment).

Activities:  1 (turning devices on and off)
Fitness tracking: 0
Special device needed?: Yes – multiple for controlling a home


Quadrant IV: iPhone Only, Single Activity

These apps rely on just the iPhone, and are targeted for only one specific task or skill. While this type of app does not necessarily see high daily rates of usage—when they are called into action, they tend to be highly valued by the user.

SprintTimer – Photo Finish
SprintTimer is a unique sports timer and photo finish app that employs the same techniques as the timing equipment used at the Olympics. Start the timer and point the camera towards the finish line. The app creates an image where you can scroll to get the time for each competitor with a 0.01 s resolution.

Activities: 1 (sprinting)
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: No

J&J 7 Minute Fitness App
A Scientific, Personalized Fitness Experience in 7 Minute Intervals. The app contains a 7-minute fitness routine that requires nothing more than a wall, a chair, and a little bit of floor space. Perfect for home work outs or fitness on- the-go!

Activities:  1 (core strength training)
Fitness tracking: ****
Special device needed?: No

Nike+ Running App
The Nike+ Running App tracks your runs and helps you reach your goals—whether it’s running your first race, or setting a new personal record. From first-time runners to marathon veterans, you’ll get the measurement and motivation you need to run farther and faster than ever before. Welcome to the world’s greatest running community.
Activities:  1 (running)
Fitness tracking: *****
Special device needed?: No

StrongLifts 5×5 Workout
A simple workout to get stronger. Three exercises, three times a week, 45 minutes per workout. Thousands of guys worldwide have used this StrongLifts 5×5 workout to get stronger, build muscle or lose weight.

Number of dedicated sports:  1 (strength training)
Fitness tracking: ***
Special device needed?: No


Conclusion
Much like your toolbox at home, the health app universe appears to be migrating to a world with a few all-purpose utility apps, combined with very specific tools and specialized equipment designed for very specific types of exercise and training. With Apple claiming the high ground as general integrator and switchboard for all the attendant data, the opportunity moving forward would seem to lean towards very specific niche apps, especially if you have an existing line of business that already occupies a particular health or fitness category. If you can afford additional development costs, a specific piece of specialized hardware (like the Zepp Golf Glove) to support your app will offer an additional level of differentiation and product loyalty. Furthermore, with the Apple iWatch poised for release later in the year, health tracking and health-mindedness in general are likely to explode into the mainstream—raising the demand and interest in these types of health and fitness apps.

It remains to be seen if we will all live appier ever after—but one thing is clear, we will have a lot more health data along the way!

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Chris Mycek

Chris Mycek

Having worked on both the client and agency sides, Chris is recognized as an expert in his field. His experience in developing category-leading brands within the pharmaceutical, biotech, and consumer healthcare categories has paralleled his ability to integrate new channels and technologies into the marketing mix. When added to the depth of commercial innovation expertise that Cadient has formed across its teams, Chris’ experience and team represent an important bridge to help both existing and future clients achieve unprecedented success.
 
 Chris, along with his team, partner with Cadient’s Commercial Innovation and customer engagement divisions to help life science companies optimize the marketing performance of their brands and marketing initiatives.

Chris Mycek

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