Apple (AAPL) started its big Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday, something that draws the attention of developers, media and investors alike. Like anything Apple does, there was a plethora of excitement going into the event. Although there were no major hardware announcements or refreshes, Apple did pave the way for a big second half of 2014, as it looks to move into fitness and health, as its next big thing.
While the majority of the keynote centered around Apple's operating systems, there were several other announcements too. Apple introduce a new programming language, known as Swift, to make developing apps easier. The company seeks to keep customers within its ecosystem, a number that grew by 130 million last year. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that in the company's lifetime, it's sold over 500 million iPhones, 200 million iPads, and 100 million iPod Touches.
However, the biggest announcements were related to the new operating systems known as Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Apple's WWDC yesterday.
Mac OS X Yosemite
As Apple continues to blur the lines between the Mac and iOS, its operating systems are playing an increasingly big part. Yosemite was made to look more like iOS, but it's still separate enough to be unique, and does not have the complete flat design that the iOS has. Apple announced a slew of new features for OS X Yosemite, including Spotlight search, making online and offline search easy, which seemed to be a hit at Google.
Apple also boosted iCloud for OS X, announcing iCloud Drive. This is a marked change from how Apple has handled the cloud in the past, moving to a file sharing system, putting it in the forefront, where it had previously been in the background. Users can store files of any type, and find them anywhere, including iOS, Mac OS and Windows.
Apple also improved the Messages feature on OS X, allowing users to send SMS or MMS messages directly from a Mac. There is even a feature that allows you to directly call someone from Mac OS X, further tying people into the Apple ecosystem.
As Apple seeks to keep people in the ecosystem, announcing features like Continuity (which includes Messages) allows people to stay working on one Apple device and then move to another if they so choose. Using AirDrop, you can port a file to any Apple device, assuming it has the latest operating system. From there, you can start sending an email on your iPhone and then finish it on your Mac.
Photo courtesy of ShutterstockiOS 8
Though Yosemite received a fair amount of attention yesterday, kicking off the keynote, iOS 8 was the star of the show, given how important iDevices have become to Apple, accounting for nearly 75% of the company's revenue in its most recent quarter.
Apple refined several features it made available in iOS 7, including tweaking Messages to share voice, video and photos inside a message with a swipe. You can also take action from the lock screen on a message, which brings new features.
Apple also introduced predictive typing, using Apple's QuickType keyboard. Users can start to type a word and Messages will finish it for them, and if posed a question with choices, it will bring up the choices as an answer. Apple also did something it never has before, allowing Swype keyboards into iOS, though Apple stressed users would have control over how much they could do with Swype.
There were several other major announcements yesterday, including HomeKit, (Apple's foray into the smart home), CloudKit (Apple allowing developers to make apps for the cloud, a hit at Facebook's Parse announcement at f8), but the biggest part of iOS 8, was the announcement of a new app that could pave the way for Apple's next big device, in the health and fitness category.
Everyone has awaited Apple to get into the health and fitness market, and since the story broke about Apple having its own health-dedicated app, the speculation has run rampant.
With yesterday's unveiling of the Health app and HealthKit, Apple may have set up the next big piece of hardware: the long-awaited iWatch.
The app, which works in conjunction with doctors, gets information from your body and other health-related applications to keep track of how their bodies are performing. If there are irregularities, the app (with the user's permission) will notify doctors to see what the issue at hand is. Apple already announced a slew of partners for HealthKit, including Nike, and several hospitals, including Stanford, Yale, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and a host of others.
Health will measure your heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, and cholesterol, while collecting that data. "The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health. You can also create an emergency card with important health information — for example, your blood type or allergies — that’s available right from your Lock screen," Apple said on its website.
It's clear that Apple is taking a long-term view on health and fitness, with the Health app being the first entry into this market. The next is likely the iWatch, and then other potential moves we haven't thought of yet.