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March 9, 2015, 2:59 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 9, 2015

Apple just concluded its final unveiling of the Apple Watch — along with some other interesting business — Monday afternoon. The Verge has as good a roundup as any of all the announcements, and video will be posted shortly. You can get the full picture there, but what about today’s keynote was important for news organizations?

The Apple Watch

Despite all the interest and potential for news notifications on such a personal device, news was only a small presence in the keynote. (As always, new platforms value news a little less than news people think they should.) Apple CEO Tim Cook briefly showed off a CNN breaking news notification, continuing the network’s role as Apple’s favorite news outlet (at least since The New York Times’ iEconomy series booted it from that role). And NPR’s NPR One infinite-player app popped up on a home screen. (Also spotted of news interest: Instapaper. And Slack!) But that’s about it.

Apple’s apps page includes details on CNN and NPR One, as well as the Times:




CNN released some more details about its app. (“Users will get up-to-the-minute breaking news across 12 personalized categories – from Top Stories and Health to Entertainment and Politics…Tap to open a story. Then choose to save it or continue reading on your phone. You can even launch live CNN TV on your phone, right from your watch.”) Breaking News is on board, as one might expect:

I’m sure we’ll see more announcements in the coming hours and days, as developer teams are freed up to talk about what they’ve been building. But we didn’t get any radical shift today in Apple Watch’s capabilities or potential for news outlets.


I don’t know if WNYC’s John Keefe was watching the event live, but I thought of him and his team when Apple unveiled the unexpected ResearchKit, a new developer toolkit targeted at medical research. Apple showed off five apps, built in partnerships with hospitals and other health care companies, that use iPhones to gather sensor data related to people’s health issues, like diabetes, Parkinson’s, and asthma. It seemed like the sort of infrastructural element that will seem more important in retrospect than it did today; the pitch:

Medical researchers need data. Lots of it. Yet the most difficult challenge for them today is recruiting participants. Without large numbers, studies can’t generate the robust data needed to help them develop wider-ranging or individualized treatments. ResearchKit simplifies recruiting and makes it easy for people to sign up for a study no matter where they live in the world. The end result? A much larger and more varied study group, which provides a more useful representation of the population.

It might be intended for health issues, but for journalists, one could easily imagine uses in sensor journalism — large-scale crowdsourced data gathering that news organizations can turn into journalism. (Think WNYC’s cicada project.) And, surprisingly, Apple said it would be open sourcing ResearchKit — which means, presumably/hopefully, that it could also be integrated with Android apps. That would allow much broader reach for sensor journalism projects.

The new MacBook

The new MacBook is 2 pounds and very thin; while it won’t shift any news business models or build new ways of distributing news, I’m willing to bet it’ll prove popular with journalists schlepping their laptop around — even if stripping away most of the ports will mean a few more dongles to carry in their bag.

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