iPhone 4 woes, competition don't deter app developers

Pay attention to the news about technology and mobile devices, and you might think Apple is losing its grip on the market.

Apple begrudgingly acknowledged problems with the iPhone 4's antenna--though later downplayed the severity. iPhone users complain daily about AT&T's network. The Google Android operating system has come out of nowhere to challenge the iPhone's supremacy in the world of smartphone apps. And just yesterday, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion introduced the PlayBook, its answer to the tablet-sized, touchscreen iPad, joining a field that's rapidly getting pretty crowded.

But don't count Apple out just yet, particularly in healthcare. iPhone app development continues at a rapid pace, and some new, breakthrough offerings aren't even limited to software.

Pharma giant Sanofi-Aventis has teamed up with Salem, N.H.-based AgaMatrix, maker of blood-glucose monitors, to announce the forthcoming availability of the BGStar and iBGStar monitors, which plug into the iPhone and iPod Touch to help diabetic patients self-manage their conditions and send data to healthcare professionals.

Another new iPhone app lets users of motorized wheelchairs control their iPhones with the wheelchair's joystick and display data about the wheelchair on the phone's screen. Rather than a plug-in, this product, from New Zealand-based Dynamic Controls, connects by Bluetooth.

According to ZDNet, researchers in Australia are trying to keep patients from dropping out of postoperative rehab programs by using a smartphone platform to communicate data from body sensors and even photos of the food they eat to their physicians. Doctors can reciprocate by sending motivational text messages and conducting regular videoconferences with patients. The article doesn't specify which smartphone this system works with, but if there's videoconferencing, it's likely the iPhone 4 or some version of the Droid, right?

Smartphones keep getting smarter, and so will the healthcare apps and related device attachments. All the competition can only be good for iPhone and the rest of the market. - Neil