Understanding Apple: Are New Health Apps Coming?

Malcolm is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock has fallen dramatically since its $700-plus high last September. Among the many reasons that pundits have postulated for this, is that Apple is “falling behind” in innovations.

Some say that the newly announced Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy S4 (GS4) has taken the lead in innovation with, among other features, its new S-Health system. The GS4 runs Google's Android operating system, with Samsung’s own enhancements.

The Verge reports:

Last year Samsung launched its health-tracking app S Health, and the company has a new version that takes advantage of some specialized sensors in the Galaxy S4. The phone features a built-in pedometer for tracking the number of steps you take — or run — during the day, much like Fitbit's line of devices. However, sensors in the phone also allow it to measure the ambient temperature and humidity of the room you're, all of which feeds into the S Health app itself. Diet tracking is integrated as well, with the app pulling able to pull caloric information from a database of common food items.

People have pointed to the built-in pedometer as one example of how Samsung is taking the lead in originality. They forget, of course, that there have been pedometer apps on the iPhone for years, with about 300 apps showing up on an App Store search. Additionally, Apple pioneered the walk/run monitoring concept with their Nike partnership on the iPod, which predates the iPhone itself.

Now, news site AppleInsider has just reported that Apple has filed three new patent applications relating to software-implemented pedometers, and how to increase their accuracy. The site writes:

Each filing looks to solve the same problem: pedometer accuracy. Current devices, even those specifically made to track a user's steps, are not completely accurate due to hardware and software limitations. Apple's invention hopes to rectify the situation through intelligent data collection and processing.

Apple suggests processing raw accelerometer data with Fast Fourier Transforms (FFT) or other mathematical techniques to improve the accuracy and details of the information. They also include user specific data (height, weight) to further improve the data. Still, no Apple first party apps are yet available in this vein.

Conclusion

It seems to this author that the public has a double standard in expectations of innovation in the mobile device industry. For the likes of Samsung, they hail any changes as extraordinary innovation, but from Apple, they treat anything less than totally revolutionary as falling behind.

Apple’s continued patent applications in a wide variety of areas show that it is not in any way lacking in innovation. They do, however, take their time in releasing innovative technology. The investor should not be fooled by supercilious arguments in this area. 


Jaan Seunnasepp owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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