Apple Health

I am not transfixed on Apple by any stretch of imagination. I find their product lines awkward; their operating system as a swiss cheese of vulnerabilities. The push came to the shove when MacOS lines became from bad to worse and their “pro” series were just expensive iterations of underpowered hardware.

However, I have written about it earlier- Apple is a monopoly and their “middleware integration” by playing through the privacy cards and charade about security will drag down the innovation by giving them unparalleled access to the “healthcare pipe”.

It is in this context (of healthcare) that their shift towards the ARM processors is significant. ARM not only designs power efficient processors but utilises a “system-on-a-chip” approach to run instruction sets efficiently.

Here’s something to munch on:

macro shot photography of Intel Core i5 processor
“Representative image”

The average Intel i7 processor produces around 45W of heat. The average ARM based smartphone SoC (including the GPU) has a maximum instantaneous peak power of around 3W, some 15 times less than an Intel i7

Here’s another kicker and just to put things in perspective (emphasis mine):

When talking about CPU designs there are a bunch of technical design decision that alter the performance and the energy usage of the processor. When an instruction is decoded and prepared for execution the processor (both Intel and ARM) uses a pipeline. That means that each minute aspect of the decoding process is parallelized. So the part to fetch the next instruction from the memory is stage 1, then the type of instruction needs to be examined and decoded- stage 2, then the instruction is actually executed – stage 3, and so on. The beauty of pipelines is that while the first instruction is in stage 2, the next instruction is already in stage 1. When the first instruction is in the execution step (stage 3), the second instruction is now in stage 2 and the third instruction is in stage 1, and so on.

person holding Intel processor
Representative image

Assuming we see these power efficient processors on the desktop and in the “cloud”, it would be a “fundamental change” especially for the IoT (internet of things). You could run the on-premise AI algorithms.

Here’s a quote from the past:

Thus the infamous Marc Andreessen prediction that Netscape would reduce Windows to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers.”

We are almost close to making the OS redundant. For the same reason, I have been giving a hard look at the state of operating systems and shift to a new hardware. The OS has become almost redundant now. Jobs knew about the “impending reality” and therefore had stunted the browser on mobiles. Their track record is worse on the desktops.

How does that tie in with the Apple Health? They have primed the users to believe that it stands for “privacy ethos”, become profitable at the back of a monopoly app store, stunted technology that makes it impossible for browser to access anything, forced users for an “app-based” interface and now piping everything through their “middleware”. I think the brilliance lies in creating the market and then convincing the existing players that the end users are “clamouring” for the solution. The reverse would have been impossible to put off because the walled garden approach and interoperability would have been an anathema to their business models.

concrete pathway in flower garden with no people

This is one reason Apple has been running a campaign for “democratising” the medical records. It is hideous and its cheerleaders are the big named investors who see profitable power concentration. Google attempted it without success and without raising the heckles. Microsoft, despite its famed bureaucratic access, couldn’t pull this off in the US, either. How will Apple succeed then?

They created a complete ecosystem of “marketing” and creating a positive spin around its products. They have a positive feedback loop- where the premium paid on products doesn’t match up to expected performance but cloaked in simplified user interface that doesn’t sound intimidating.

Here’s the concluding note from the link that inspired this blog post:

It’s impossible to know how the future will play out, but we expect to see Apple continue to integrate with more healthcare providers and connected devices. Some forward-thinking providers like One Medical, Forward, and Qbio will make better use of the data from Apple’s ecosystem to offer differentiated primary care. Patients will come to expect it and value it. Perhaps Barry’s or Equinox will integrate with Apple Health to create a better customer experience.

I don’t think Apple will try to create a “HealthOS” but look back and the shift to the ARM is ominous with the writing on the wall. Possibly, they might want to simplify the code base to “merge” the hardware and the software lines, but it would be foolhardy to attempt. Howsoever audacious it may sound, it may be possible with something like this: