April 13, 2022
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Good morning! Over the last five years, smartwatches have become both phone replacements and pint-sized medical devices. But the health-tracking advancements we’ve seen from wearables may be stalling out due to technical difficulties. Turns out that putting something akin to clinical diagnostic equipment in a watch is really, really difficult! I’m Caitlin McGarry, and this year I plan to learn to play the cello. (Screenshot this and hold me accountable, please.)
Once Apple figured out that the Apple Watch wasn’t just an iPhone accessory but a full-blown health and fitness tracker, the company made huge strides in developing medical-grade features for its flagship wearable. The turning point was FDA clearance for the Apple Watch Series 4’s electrocardiogram feature, which could diagnose a user with atrial fibrillation (a common heart condition that can lead to stroke or heart attack). From there, the company was on a roll, adding features like fall detection to the Series 5 and blood oxygen-monitoring to the Series 6.
But last year’s Apple Watch Series 7 offered little in the way of marquee health features, and Apple has had some hiccups developing what would be an absolute game-changer for a smartwatch: the ability to accurately measure blood pressure.
Apple’s ambitious health roadmap may have hit some speed bumps. The company has been working on advanced sensors that can monitor blood pressure and blood glucose (an important metric for diabetics) directly on the wrist. If this sounds too good to be true, well, it just might be. The blood pressure-monitoring feature won’t be ready until 2024 or possibly even 2025 (as many as four generations of watches from now), Bloomberg reported. That’s a big setback for the company, which has become accustomed to pushing wearable devices forward pretty rapidly.
Offering blood glucose would be the holy grail for a wearable device, health tech experts have told me. Blood pressure measurements would certainly be useful for heart health but if Apple gave diabetics the ability to track glucose without pricking the skin it would be quite literally life-changing. Sadly it doesn’t sound like Apple has pulled it off — or will anytime soon.
So what's next for Apple's health plans? It does have some more feasible health features in the works: The Series 8 watch, due out this fall, may include a body temperature sensor, which is expected to be used as part of a fertility-planning feature. Oura, which makes a health-tracking ring, is working on a similar feature.
Bloomberg noted that Apple employees are reportedly frustrated by the slow rate of health feature development, and while people are still buying up Apple Watches, last year’s model was underwhelming in terms of feature improvements. If the company can succeed where so many others have failed, it might be worth the wait. But for now, that still looks like a big if.
How is tech setting and measuring climate goals?
Net zero. Carbon offsets. Scope 3 emissions. These are just some of the terms you’ll find in Big Tech’s climate plans. Understanding what they actually mean is vital to ensuring the industry is meeting its goals. Join us at 10 a.m. PT April 19, where Protocol's Brian Kahn will talk with some of the people responsible for setting those goals and experts who are monitoring them to find out what tech companies are really doing. RSVP here.
The emergence of DeFi is shaking up the way consumers think about how they store value. For reference, Visa saw $2.5 billion of crypto-backed transactions in the first quarter of 2022. We’re seeing consumers really starting to use this in a way that even a year ago was kind of hypothetical.
Josh Silverman said Etsy’s increased transaction fee will help it compete with Amazon:
Tim Cook said Apple will continue to push back on antitrust measures:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants the FTC to clamp down on mobile location tracking:
Twitter bought OpenBack, a mobile engagement platform, for an undisclosed amount. OpenBack workers will join Twitter’s Bluebird team.
KKR is buying Barracuda, a cybersecurity firm, from Thoma Bravo for about $3.8 billion, sources told Bloomberg.
Faranak Raissi is joining Productboard as VP of people and culture. She most recently worked at Atlassian as VP of HR.
Julie Sweet, Sundar Pichai and others joined the Welcome.US CEO Council, which will help reskill and hire refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Julie McNamara is replacing Courtney Holt as Spotify’s studios and video head, a source told The Hollywood Reporter. Holt will step into an advisory role.
Trish Sparks is replacing Tyler Bosmeny as Clever’s CEO. Sparks currently leads Clever’s customer success and sales.
Amee Chande is joining Thumbtack’s board. She’s held leadership roles at companies including Waymo, Google and Alibaba.Mark Aldrich is Mighty Buildings’ new general counsel. Aldrich last worked as a senior counsel at Airbnb.
A Twitter shareholder is suing Elon Musk for failing to disclose his stake in the company earlier. The shareholder claims Musk got more shares at a lower price as a result.
WeWork is trying to do tech again. The company partnered with Yardi Systems to create WeWork Workspace, a tool that helps companies manage workers by booking conference rooms and coordinating desk usage.
The number of injuries in Amazon warehouses is going up. Injuries at the company made up about half of all warehouse injuries in the U.S. in 2021 and rose 20% from the previous year.
Alphabet, Meta and others are investing in carbon removal. The companies joined Frontier, a project that’s putting $925 million toward tech that pulls carbon dioxide from the air.
How did Washington state avoid a big Prop. 22 fight? Its governor recently signed a bill that recognizes Uber and Lyft drivers as contractors and gives these workers new benefits after quiet discussion between people on both sides of the issue.
Honda doesn’t want to sell any more gasoline-powered cars by 2040. The company will spend $40 billion on electric vehicles and launch dozens of EV models by the end of the decade.
Not many people are watching CNN+. Only about 10,000 people have been tuning in to the news service daily in the couple weeks since it launched, sources told CNBC.
Just a little office time is best for workers, according to a new study. Researchers found that employees enjoy just one or two days at the office.
Spotify Greenroom is now called Spotify Live. It will be offered both as its own app and as a livestream option on the Spotify app.
It’s hard to feel motivated when you’re working remotely. But it may help to work remotely alongside other people over a video call. That’s the point of coworking startup Flow Club.
The company offers sessions dedicated to getting stuff done with other people. Participants join a 60-, 90- or 120-minute session where they share their goals, then mute themselves and get to work. At the end of the session, everyone comes back together and explains how much they were able to complete. You can think of it like the “Peloton for coworking,” one co-founder said.
Businesses — whether Web2 or Web3-oriented businesses that don’t want to hold crypto but do want to be able to interact with crypto holders — want to be able to offer that as a payment mechanism to their communities. The other is hands-on, where merchants are comfortable accepting crypto.
Correction: In yesterday's newsletter, we meant to write that Sonos bought Mayht Holding BV. Sorry for any confusion.
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