Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC14) took place last night and while some of the predictions were a little wide of the mark, there were some announcements that came as little surprise. The introduction of iOS 8 and OSX 10.10 were shoo-ins. What was quite surprising though was that Apple steered away from revealing any hardware at all and focused solely on software and operating system improvements.
Many expected (or hoped) to see the reveal of the iPhone 6 and maybe even a wearable device such as the iWatch. None of these materialised at WWDC14, however what was revealed hints that Apple’s attention could very well be taken up by mobile and wearables in the not too distant future…
Arguably the biggest indication so far that Apple aim to venture into the wearable market was the unveiling of their new HealthKit and Health apps. HealthKit is a centre for all other health and fitness apps and devices to communicate with, creating an overall picture of your physical well-being. The app collates different types of information such as heart rate, weight and blood pressure through device-recorded data and user-input.
Apple are working with companies like Nike to integrate HealthKit into these 3rd party apps, and further down the line some form of wearable looks highly likely. This may be something similar to the Jawbone UP that records aspects of your physical state and sends the data to the app automatically. An iWatch would create new possibilities when exercising or training too. Your health statistics could be displayed on your wrist, allowing you to check and adjust your activity with ease. All speculation of course, but HealthKit is a definite acknowledgement of wearables by Apple.
This year’s event seemed to be more about iOS than OSX which is quite interesting. OSX 10.10, named “Yosemite”, was presented at WWDC14 and although features like iCloud and Apple’s mail app were overhauled, the most noticeable changes were in relation to iOS. OSX has been brought closer to iOS visually in order to create a familiarity. The fact that the desktop OS is being brought in line with the mobile OS is a huge sign to where Apple see their technology headed.
App icons have been redesigned to look more like iOS’s and the flat, translucent interface has also been introduced for Yosemite. What’s more, when an iPhone is in range of your Mac, you are now able to make phone calls through you Mac device. It’s unclear where exactly Apple are going with this uniting of OSX and iOS, but the slow down on desktop and shift towards mobile is a pretty good indicator.
WWDC14 was more about developers than ever before as Apple announced they would be opening up certain locked down features, allowing them to be used and manipulated in 3rd party apps. Developers will now be able to implement their own keyboards into their apps instead of having to use Apple’s default keyboard. The touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s will also be accessible by developers, meaning apps may include finger print identification as log in methods.
This is potentially huge in terms of finding alternatives to password verification. This may be a poisoned chalice for the average user though. One of the best things about Android is the amount of freedom developers have, however this can also be the cause of some of the biggest problems. If you install a new app and don’t realise it has a free keyboard for example, it can make your Android device very difficult to use. This might not be a problem for those that know how to rectify these problems, however lots of people won’t.
For a run-down of everything you need to know, take a look at The Verge’s list of the most important things that Apple announced at WWDC14.