For those of you sleeping under a rock last week, Apple announced iOS 8, OS X Yosemite along with a multitude of future offerings during this year’s WWDC in San Francisco. While no new hardware made its debut, developers around the world are still salivating over the surprises from last Monday. Just ask our dev team: I don’t think any of them slept a wink considering our Barcelona time zone difference.
The first story is about connecting the dots
What were our own personal highlights? Well to start, there’s one thing Apple does better than everyone else and that’s integration. If you have an iPhone, iPad and a Mac, you’ll soon be able to start a job on one device (like an email) and finish it on another. Since the devices are now aware of each other, the continuity between your Apple products will be better than ever.
Developers, developers, developers!
Since Swift just opened the floodgates for new mobile developers everywhere, brace yourselves for an explosion of new apps. In preparation for this exponential influx of choice in the already overcrowded App Store, Apple has invested millions in upgrading their tool for discovering and buying new apps.
App Store improvements
Presently, there are approximate 1.2 million apps in the iOS App Store, and we all know how hard is to get to the top of that list. Apple is introducing multiple new features like “trending applications,” continuous scrolling, app bundles, video previews and a new “Explore” tab that let’s us actually discover new offerings rather than settle for “What’s Hot” or “Editor’s Choice”. But there’s more here than meets the eye and no one seems to be talking about it. Since the launch of the App Store, mobile app development has grown into a multibillion-dollar market, but the App Store has seen little improvement since then and unequivocally limits a repeatable marketing effort and inhibits application improvement based on user feedback. These new App Store tools may seem fairly innocuous in the backdrop of everything else that was announced this week, but the video preview feature alone will spawn hundreds of new companies and product offerings to help us increase the return on investment of making amazing mobile apps.
Health & Home
Speaking of amazing, Apple has become the second-most influential corporate entity in the smartwatch industry (behind Samsung) without making a single smartwatch. The reason for this again comes to Apple’s incredible ability to integrate existing products into their software ecosystem. In addition to recent notable hires, such as former Burberry’s CEO Angela Ahrendts and a top Nike FuelBand designer, Apple announced HealthKit this week – a one-stop-shop for storing and managing all of your health and fitness information on your iPhone.
HealthKit is our first glimpse into Apple’s next multi-billion dollar innovation play. For now, it merely integrates our fitness tracking device data into one central location. Okay, so tracking your daily steps each day isn’t so exciting, but wait until these tracking devices evolve and your entire medical history can be accessed and analyzed in the palm of your hand then passed directly to your doctor. Furthermore, Apple has inked major contracts with US hospitals reminiscent of their approach to the music industry prior launching iTunes. This will likely give Apple a headstart in the Smart Health arms race and even open up opportunities for innovative startups to meet the demand of the new markets being created. HealthKit will lead to a profound advancement of medical evolution and usher in a new wave of preventative medicine. I’ll pause here while you go buy more Apple stock.
Welcome back. “Hey Siri, dim the lights and play Barry White.” Internet of things, Internet of Everything, Connected devices. Whatever you want to call it, it’s arrived and Apple is ready to synch your home to your phone. HomeKit is Apple’s centralized home-automation platform within iOS that let’s you talk to connected devices from third party manufacturers. The Siri-enabled software platform is just the tip of the connected home iceberg and soon our refrigerator will be texting us when we’re out of milk.
Third Party Keyboards – Finally! No one’s quite sure why this took so long, perhaps it was a security issue or just plain arrogance, but the decision to allow third party keyboards on iOS devices was long overdue. Swiftkey is already being developed for iOS and it’s safe to assume the best Android keyboards will make the transition this year as well. Of course, the silver lining is Apple will introduce QuickType, their own advanced keyboard that will learn how you use language in your texts in order to predict what you will type next.
Apple has long been the focal point of Android fans’ wrath and an easy target for naysayers that want to take a swipe at the largest tech company in the world. Some early critics hammered on about copycat features “borrowed” from Android or that the WWDC announcements were simply playing catch-up and lacking any real innovation. However, Apple has once again proven why they remain king. They know how to connect the dots in the industry and leverage their existing products in a well-balanced hardware and software ecosystem better than anyone else. While investors should be pleased with the upcoming rollouts, developers have their work cut out for them and will likely be glued to their desks this summer. Hopefully those holiday airline tickets were refundable…
What were your favorite announcements during WWDC 2014?