App to Help Spina Bifida Patients

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A system incorporating a smartphone app can help adolescents and young adults with spina bifida, a disabling congenital condition affecting the spine, and improve their daily self-management skills, scientists say.

The “iMHere” (interactive Mobile Health & Rehabilitation) system features mobile reminders and messaging with healthcare providers and is feasible for use by young patients with spina bifida.

“This system holds promise for use in many diverse chronic care models to support and increase self-management skills,” said Dr Brad E Dicianno of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The randomised pilot study evaluated the iMHere system in 23 patients, aged 18 to 40, with spina bifida. The patients in the study had myelomeningocele – the most severe type of spina bifida.

One group of patients received the experimental iMHere system, which combined a suite of smartphone modules and a web-based portal for healthcare providers, linked by a two-way communication system.

The modules were tailored to the key issues of spina bifida self-management, including information on medications, reminders to perform important daily self-care activities, and monitoring of mood and depression symptoms.

The other group of patients received routine spina bifida care and follow-up. After one year, use of the iMHere system and self-management skills were compared between groups, along with other key outcomes.

Patients met or exceeded expected levels of use of the iMHere system.

They were most likely to use modules that reminded them to perform self-care steps that occurred less than every day; and to remind them to take medications, which changed frequently. iMHere users “were also more likely to communicate new information or symptoms to a wellness coordinator by secure message, survey, or photograph,” according to the study.

Higher use of reminders did not decrease the rate of events requiring medical attention. However, patients who were high users of the iMHere system gained new independence in certain spina bifida self-management skills.

All types of medical events tended to be less common for patients using iMHere, although the differences were not significant.

The preliminary results suggest that the iMHere system may enable young patients become more independent in managing their spina bifida – especially those who use the system frequently, Dicianno said.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the official journal of the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

iOS 9.0.2 Update Brings Fix for App Mobile Data and Other Bugs

Apple on Wednesday released iOS 9.0.2 with an aim to to fix quite a few bugs in Apple’s mobile operating system. This is the second bug squashing update the company has released in two weeks since the release of iOS 9.

The new update fixes a range of bugs including patching the glitch that caused issue while turning on and off app cellular data usage. Many users were unable to adjust their mobile data settings.

iOS 9.0.2 also addresses an issue that prevented users from activating their iMessage accounts. If your device’s screen was rotating incorrectly upon receiving notifications, Apple noted that glitches had been fixed too.

The iOS 9.0.2 update also resolves an issue where an iCloud Backup could be interrupted after starting a manual backup. Finally, Podcast stability has also been improved.

The new update also comes with a security patch that fixes the bug that allowed users to bypass the lock-screen to access photos and contacts.

The update, which weighs north of 60MB, is available to download over the air from iOS Settings app, or alternatively, you can also snag it from iTunes on your Mac or PC computer. It is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices that support iOS 9.

Here’s the full changelog.

  • Fixes an issue with the setting to turn on or off app mobile data usage
  • Resolves an issue that prevented iMessage activation for some users
  • Resolves an issue where an iCloud Backup could be interrupted after starting a manual backup
  • Fixes an issue where the screen could incorrectly rotate when receiving notifications
  • Improves the stability of Podcasts

At the sidelines, Apple also released the third beta of iOS 9.1 for developers, as well as OS X 10.11 El Capitan, the latest iteration to its Mac operating system. Also worth knowing is that Apple has closed the signing window for iOS 8.4.1 and iOS 9.0. This means that you can no longer downgrade to the said versions from iOS 9.0.1 or iOS 9.02.

iOS 9’s App Thinning Feature That Can Help Save Space Finally Goes Live

If you were waiting for the arrival of iOS 9’s new feature called “app thinning,” your wait is over. Apple said that it has fixed the iCloud backup issue that had delayed the release of the app thinning feature, and starting with iOS 9.0.2, which was recently released, app developers get access to the updated apps.

Until date, iOS developers were supposed to make a “universal version” of their app which packs in assets for a number of devices. This allows the app to fit right into an iOS device regardless of its hardware configuration. But this as you may realise, takes additional storage. App thinning is Apple’s way to address this issue.

With app thinning – which is also referred to as app slicing – users will automatically only download the part of the assets required to run the app on their particular iOS device. Furthermore, most of this ‘magic’ is supposed to happen at Apple’s end, which means that developers don’t need to do too much to enable app thinning. The app could download additional assets later if required, but it wouldn’t shove resource files that are not relevant to your device.

The feature was supposed to go live with iOS 9, which was released to the public on September 16. But at the time, bugs in the iCloud Backup functionality led Apple to disable the feature. The company had recently fixed at least some of those bugs (including those in Xcode) which hinted that the feature will be live soon enough.

Referring to the bug fixes, Apple said, “The issue affecting app slicing has been fixed, and device-specific versions of apps will be delivered when downloaded by users running iOS 9.0.2 or later.”

If you’re on the latest public version of iOS 9 – iOS 9.0.2 – you should be able to see the difference in iOS apps file sizes when downloading apps. The feature is likely to please space-conscious users especially those who have purchased the 16GB variant of iPhone or iPad.

Facebook’s Anticipated News App Is Reportedly Called ‘Notify’

The social networking giant Facebook is reportedly working on a breaking news app called Notify, and is ready to launch it by October end, according to a media report.

The app will reportedly allow users to aggregate their favourite content into real-time notifications.

Partnering publications will have the ability to create specific notifications for the mobile platform on behalf of Facebook, like a mega-tweet. Then users will be directed to the publication’s website via the notification, according to The Awl.

Facebook seeks to expand its functionalities to something much more than just a social network – the most popular one in the world if it makes any difference. The app will allow users to subscribe to certain organisations dubbed as stations and they will then receive notifications during the day, every time one of the stations they have subscribed to promotes a new story.

That will obviously give a big boost on Facebook’s presence as a multi-functioning platform, rather than just a simple social network.

According to statistics, nearly no media networks and companies have managed to establish a well designed smartphone app that its readers – or most of them – actually use; at least not near the capacity of Facebook.

This gives the company the advantage that it is very likely that users will read more articles through Facebook media networks with strong app presences, such as BuzzFeed and the New York Times, which may consider working with Notify to direct the firehose of social media users in the right direction.

Besides all the above, Notify will also be a challenge for Facebook’s rival social network, Twitter, which also launched a new feature last week called Moments, that lets Twitter curate tweets into different categories, such as news and sports.

So media companies will also have a chance to create their own moments and fill the feature with their content which will ultimately attract more readers and hence users as well.