Smarter than you realise

IF YOU’VE succumbed to the smartphone revolution – whether it’s iPhone, Android, Blackberry or whatever – you’ve no doubt discovered that for any information you need, there’s probably an app for it. 

‘Apps’ are the little programs that offer a plethora of useful extra functions on smartphones and ‘tablets’ like the iPad. They range from reference books to mini torches, GPS maps, sleep and heart rate monitors, and include medical tools like the drug reference guides Epocrates and Medscape (both offer free versions) and a variety of texts, references and calculators including Medical Observer’s own Mobile Dr.

But as smartphones become ever cleverer at providing – and gathering – information, it seems some apps are less benign than they appear. Companies now harvest usage data for market research – and some pharmaceutical companies are also delivering sponsored health