Why Apple’s Push for Accuracy of Health Apps Is a Major Step in the Right Direction

It’s becoming increasingly easy to make a fitness and health tracking app these days. Don’t get me wrong — a killer mobile experience is a feat now that mobile users have surpassed those on desktop around the world. But frankly, the barrier to entry for mobile apps has been getting lower and lower over the past years. Today, we’ve arrived at an App Store chock full of healthcare apps (over 165k) — but the question remains: how many of these apps are actually legit?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Pokémon Go and its many alternatives don’t have a ton on the line in terms of accuracy or legitimacy. If they work and entertain, users are happy. But think about apps in the health space — fitness trackers, wellness monitors, medical diagnosis apps. If the rules and regulations for game apps are the same as those for health apps, there’s much more at stake — and much more room for serious danger to occur if these apps aren’t actually accurate.

Fortunately, in an effort to prevent this exact possibility, Apple has updated their App Store Review Guidelines, and health apps are under much more pressure to produce apps that actually work. Now, apps that have potential to cause physical harm, provide inaccurate data or information that could misdiagnose users will be under far stricter scrutiny. For many so called health and fitness wearable manufacturers, this could be bad news — but for consumers everywhere, I strongly believe that Apple’s push for greater accuracy in health apps is a big move in the right direction. It’s just the first of a series of steps required to make health technology more accurate and add value to our lives in a greater way.

Why Pokémon GO Became An Instant Phenomenon

Katherine Isbister, University of California, Santa Cruz

In the last week, Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game for mobile phones, has taken off. Daily traffic for the game exceeded Twitter and Facebook use. What is driving this intense interest and involvement? One way to understand is to take a closer look at the game’s design.

First, for those who haven’t played or watched, a brief overview of how the game works. To play Pokémon GO, you download an app onto your phone, which allows you to search for and “see” virtual creatures called Pokémon that are scattered throughout the real world. You need to be physically close to a Pokémon’s location to see it on your mobile screen. Pokémon GO uses augmented reality technology — the game overlays the creature image on top of video from your phone’s camera, so it looks as if the creature is floating in the real world. When you find a Pokémon, you try to catch it by swiping an on-screen ball at it. The simplest aim of the game is to “catch ‘em all.”

To do this, you’ll have to wander outside your own real-world neighborhood, because different types of creatures are scattered throughout your town and all around the world. You can easily share snapshots of creatures you’ve collected and where you found them on social media sites like Facebook, if you want. As you get better at the game, you discover that you can train the creatures in “gyms,” which are virtual spaces accessible by visiting real world public locations (for example, the White House is a gym). When you’ve reached level 5 in the game, you get a chance to join one of three teams: Team Mystic, Team Valor or Team Instinct. These teams compete to maintain control over the gyms where Pokémon go and train. You and your friends can choose the same team, and work together if you like. You’ll also have teammates from around your community (and the world) who join in.

Several aspects of the game’s design help to make the experience so compelling. A look at gaming research shows several of the game’s elements can explain why playing Pokémon GO has been such a massive worldwide hit for players of all ages.