IBM-Apple app count hits 50 with healthcare, sales, and transport additions

IBM is now halfway towards its goal of delivering 100 MobileFirst for iOS apps by the end of 2015.

IBM has now developed more than 50 industry-specific apps for Apple devices. Image: Apple

IBM is rolling out a new wave of business-focused iPhone and iPad apps, bringing the number developed under its enterprise deal with Apple to over 50.

IBM said the new apps include Hospital MD for healthcare, which provides physicians with critical patient data, task management tools, and the ability to share and communicate with the care team to minimize delays and improve patient care.

With the addition of Hospital MD, a patient's entire care team -- from the moment they are admitted to when they complete in-home care -- will be able to work from the same set of data and quickly complete tasks for shorter hospital stays and better outcomes, said IBM.

Another new app, Expert Seller, aims to give employees access to everything they need to know about a company's product or services in order to create more effective client engagement, while Today's Train is a travel and transportation app that allows train staff to access information including schedules, train connections, and critical real-time status updates so they can offer a more personalized approach to travellers' enquiries.

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The deal between Apple and IBM to create a range of enterprise iOS apps is the most visible feature of Apple's recent push into the business market.

As part of the deal, unveiled last July, the companies are building 100 industry-specific enterprise apps for the iPhone and iPad. These apps are needed because while most big companies have bought iPads, they are only using them in a limited way -- mainly because connecting these devices to their back-end systems is difficult.

Creating a set of industry-specific apps and streamlining the way they integrate into the enterprise systems (which may have been built long before the iPad even appeared) could make bigger rollouts of Apple devices more appealing to big businesses.

IBM recently told ZDNet that it is on track to deliver 100 apps by the end of the year.

Industries that have adopted the iOS apps include financial services, healthcare, utilities, and retail. The apps are also being developed with the Apple Watch and the forthcoming iPad Pro in mind.

The back-end integration is perhaps the most complicated part of the project, even if the shiny app is what grabs the attention. IBM puts together a blueprint for all of the 72 potential integration points plus key elements such as files and data, analytics, notification, authentication and permissions, peripherals, and accessibility, with the aim of implementing the apps in six weeks.

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