health apps Stories February 24, 2015

FTC fines apps that falsely claimed to detect melanoma using iPhone camera

The FTC is fining the creators of two different smartphone apps, both of which were previously available as paid apps on the App Store, for falsely claiming to detect symptoms of melanoma. The two apps, MelApp and Mole Detective, have long been removed from the App Store (although a version of Mole Detective remains on Google Play for $4.99), and Apple appears to have cracked down on similar apps that were available on the store as recently as early 2014.

The Federal Trade Commission has challenged marketers for deceptively claiming their mobile apps could detect symptoms of melanoma, even in its early stages. In two separate cases, marketers of MelApp and Mole Detective have agreed to settlements that bar them from continuing to make such unsupported claims. The agency is pursuing charges against two additional marketers of Mole Detective who did not agree to settle.

It’s not the first and it likely won’t be the last time app makers face scrutiny from government officials over health care claims as fitness becomes more of a focus on mobile devices and companion wearables. As recently as November, the FTC was said to be pressing Apple on how it plans to use sensitive health related data collected from its upcoming Apple Watch launching in April.

health apps Stories April 24, 2014

Facebook buys fitness app Moves as health race heats up

There’s certainly no shortage of buzz around health tracking and fitness-related products and software these days, and Facebook is making sure it its not going to be left out of the race (there’s also no shortage of Facebook acquisitions).

Finnish company ProtoGeo Oy, the developers behind the iPhone and Android fitness app Moves (seen above), has been acquired by Facebook as it posted this on its site today:

Today, we’re delighted to announce that Facebook has acquired our company and the Moves app. Since we launched Moves, we’ve been focused on running a simple and clean activity diary that millions of people have enjoyed using.

Now, we’re joining Facebook’s talented team to work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people.

The company also rounded out its announcement with a thank you to customers for making its product a success and the standard promise that data gathered by the service won’t “commingle” with Facebook, but such promises are mostly “feel good” reassurances and surely have no legal merit especially with the “there are no plans” qualifier.

All of this is made much more interesting in the context of Apple’s plans to take a major step into owning the fitness category with the company’s upcoming Healthbook software first reported by 9to5Mac and widespread rumors of some sort of fitness-related band on the new product horizon (not to mention Nike reportedly stepping away from its FuelBand product).

Couple that with numerous fitness and health-related hires by Apple that continue as recently as this month and it’s easy to understand why Facebook would want to buy Moves: it doesn’t want to be the last one to the finish line.

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