Apple keeps exploring (and scrapping) new ways to detect users’ health

Apple’s been signaling for years that it wants to dive more deeply into healthcare. A lengthy new Bloomberg report details just how far the company wants to go, while also explaining why it just hasn’t gotten there yet.

Its biggest ambitions, says the article, have been slowed in part by concerns from leaders like Apple CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams. The executives reportedly worry that slip-ups in the high-stakes field of healthcare “could tarnish the perception of the company.”

Bloomberg’s write-up has lots of previously unknown tidbits about Apple’s health aims, sourced from anonymous employees. Here are the highlights:

Bloomberg shows an Apple that is at odds with itself over its place in health and fitness. It continues to imbue its products with health-focused features, like a possible AirPods hearing aid function or last year’s Apple Watch temperature sensors.

But Apple’s concerns about its image have reportedly kept it from going all-in, cautiously prodding at actually turning its products into diagnostics tools. Instead, the company has kept its focus on its core market of the “worried well,” who aren’t sick but watch for signs that they are.

Apple also has to contend with a competitive environment that’s seen Amazon realize a clinic program that, Bloomberg writes, at least partially resembles what Apple wanted to do. Another obstacle is getting FDA approval for its health technologies, which is a difficult but necessary step it must take before it can make definitive health claims, rather than offering insights and recommending customers check with their doctors when something is trending in the wrong direction.

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