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By Abhay V
Google working to let health apps integrate with Assistant for easier health tracking
by Abhay Venkatesh
A recent teardown of the beta version of the Google app on Android has revealed strings that suggest that Google might be working to integrate health apps with the Assistant. The company aims to let users easily access tracked sleep data and other health-related information right from the assistant through voice commands.
The term “sleep_account_linking” and corresponding descriptions suggest that users will be able to choose to integrate their health service accounts to the Assistant and receive responses about sleep quality and other such queries on the app and on Assistant-enabled speakers that have personal results turned on. Health services can include apps like Fitbit that collates data from fitness trackers.
Additionally, the content found in the teardown also suggests that the Assistant will be able to automatically provide data and health suggestions for those that have “proactive health and fitness results”. The description of the feature also suggests that users’ audio queries will be deleted after the request is completed. However, text from the query might be used to “troubleshoot, develop, and improve Assistant services”. Those that want to stop receiving any of this information or suggestions can unlink their services from settings.
The addition of this feature will negate the need for users to navigate to specific health apps and manually check the desired metrics, proving to be useful for those that rely on such apps to keep a track of sleep patterns or other fitness-related goals. It will not be surprising to see Google-owned Fitbit be one of the first providers to integrate with the Assistant if the feature does make it to the app.
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft extends cloud-based health alliance with Allscripts
by Hamza Jawad
Last month, Microsoft unveiled a five-year deal with John Hopkins Medicine, centered around Azure. A few weeks before that, the tech giant launched Cloud for Healthcare, its first industry-specific cloud offering. Now, in a further move combining the power of cloud with the healthcare industry, Microsoft has announced a five-year extension to its strategic alliance with Allscripts.
The partnership, which undertakes the development of cloud-based health IT solutions, will now support Allscripts' cloud-based Sunrise electronic health record as well. Sunrise is described as an "integrated EHR that connects all aspects of care, including acute, ambulatory, surgical, pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services including an integrated revenue cycle and patient administration system". Microsoft is now the cloud provider for the aforementioned solution.
Paul Black, Allscripts CEO, commented on the significance of this partnership under the global pandemic situation, noting:
Microsoft will not only be providing Allscripts the ability to utilize the Azure platform, but more of its services such as Teams and Power BI as well as part of this renewed alliance.
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Samsung partners with fitness brands to bring apps to its TVs
by Paul Hill
Samsung has announced that its smart TVs will begin to host wellness apps after it formed partnerships with a selection of brands including barre3, Calm, Echelon, Fitplan, Jillian Michaels Fitness, and obé Fitness. While the services will become part of Samsung Health later in the year, they’ve been made available now to help people that are stuck at home due to COVID-19.
Commenting on the news, Salek Brodsky, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development for Samsung Electronics, said:
The apps vary by availability, here’s the list:
barre3 is available on 2018 and 2019 Samsung smart TVs in the U.S. and Canada. Fitplan is available on 2019 models in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Echelon FitPass is available on TVs from 2018 and 2019 in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Jillian Michaels Fitness is available on 2018 and 2019 TVs in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. obé is available on 2018 and 2019 models in the U.S. and Canada. Calm is available on 2019 TVs in the U.S., Canada, UK, Korea, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. All of the apps will be part of Samsung Health on 2020 models but availability is based on region. The apps that are being introduced focus on both body and mind so they should be quite helpful when it comes to people being shut-in their homes for extended periods.
By Abhay V
Apple Watch could receive a blood oxygen saturation detection feature
by Abhay Venkatesh
While Apple typically announces major products in September of every year, features that are making it to the devices end up leaking to the public through the way of internal sources divulging information to publications or through feature mentions found in the OS code. Internal code snippets of iOS 14, accessed by 9to5Mac show that the Apple Watch could be receiving the ability to detect blood-oxygen levels.
Many types of heart rate sensors are capable of detecting blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). The Cupertino giant added an electrical heart rate sensor to the Apple Watch Series 4 that brought with it the electrocardiogram feature. It is not clear if the blood oxygen calculation is aimed at devices after the Series 4 owing to the hardware capabilities or if it will leverage any new hardware with the next-generation Watch.
The company is expected to add health notifications based on the SpO2 readings. Consistently low readings may indicate the risk of cardiac arrests and timely notifications can prove to be lifesaving. The ability to calculate blood oxygen levels has been present in other devices such as Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones till the Galaxy S10 and competitor wearable devices from Fitbit. The inclusion of this feature is a welcome addition, especially since the Apple Watch touts useful health features such as fall detection and the like.
In addition to the ability to measure blood oxygen saturation, the firm is reportedly also working to improve the ECG feature by eliminating the erroneous readings that the sensor records when the heart rate ranges between 100 and 120 beats per minute. This change should improve ECG readings and notifications for those using Series 4 and Series 5 devices.
It will be interesting to see if all these features indeed make it to the devices, considering that not all feature mentions spotted in internal code make it to production. Apple was also said to be working to bring sleep tracking to the Apple Watch. Only time will tell as to if that feature too would make it to the devices.