Is a smartphone a thing?\nThe question isn\u2019t as silly as it may sound, at least in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT) and this week\u2019s partnership between Apple and General Electric. According to Apple, the deal calls for the two companies to \u201cdeliver powerful industrial apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE\u2019s industrial IoT platform, to iPhone and iPad.\u201d\n\nThe focus is a new Predix SDK for iOS \u2014 due out later in October \u2014 designed to let developers build IoT apps that run on iPhones and iPads. Thus, the answer to the question of whether a smartphone a \u201cthing\u201d in the IoT sense seems to be \u201cit\u2019s complicated.\u201d\niPhones mainly used to understand IoT data\nRather than turn iOS devices into internet things, the SDK seems mostly designed to create easy-to-use native iOS apps that work with Predix IoT data from industrial sensors on equipment ranging from wind turbines to power plants and jet engines.\nBoosting collaboration is also a goal, and the SDK could also reportedly perform more creative functions, such as leverage iPhone cameras to record and send thermal images to help diagnose equipment issues.\u00a0\nAs an example of the kinds of apps to be created, the companies cited GE\u2019s new Asset Performance Management (APM) Cases app, designed to use native iOS functionality to help boost machine reliability and availability and cut maintenance costs and operational risks.\nThe partnership also includes joint development of internal and external GE apps designed to help workers use IoT information. Apple also agreed to promote Predix as its \u201cindustrial IoT analytics platform of choice.\u201d\nHelping Apple sell Macs to the enterprise\u00a0\nOn the flip side, GE will standardize on iPhone and iPad mobile devices and promote Mac as a laptop\/desktop option for its more than 330,000 employees around the world.\u00a0 That\u2019s a lot of direct sales potential for iPhones, but more importantly, it will also help bolster Apple\u2019s credibility when it comes to computer sales to mainstream enterprises. That\u2019s not insignificant, as many traditional enterprises still see Mac computers as less serious devices, preferring to standardize on Windows laptops.\u00a0\nBut make no mistake, this deal is all about leveraging iOS to make IoT data easier for humans to use and understand. In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook put it this way: \u201cTogether, Apple and GE are fundamentally changing how the industrial world works by combining GE\u2019s Predix platform with the power and simplicity of iPhone and iPad.\u201d\nThat may come across as typical press release fluff, but it\u2019s important because making sense of the vast amount of data generated by IoT devices is a real problem that will only grow along with the spread of IoT. And at some point, even the IoT needs to connect to humans if it\u2019s going to be truly useful.