Apple CEO Tim Cook stood on stage in San Francisco early this morning Aussie time at the 25th anniversary Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). This is the time of year where everyone hopes to hear about a shiny new device from Apple, but year after year they are disappointed – Today was no different, but the real juice was in what was announced, not what was missing.
WWDC is about developers – over 6,000 of them from around the world make their way to San Francisco for this event – not for this keynote speech but for the days of back to back sessions hosted by Apple engineers and software architects – the very people who know the iOS system back to front. Developers learn how to build apps better, more efficiently and take advantage of the best parts of iOS (and probably a few things that are not allowed too to save them the rejection later).
So it’s really no surprise that consistently for the last few years the key announcements have been about software.
Apple today announced the next version of OS X for Mac would be called “Yosemite” after the iconic Californian national park.
Inclusions in OS X (10.10) for Mac users would be for the most part “cosmetic” some nice new looks and shades, again a move to flatter appearance and simpler colours, plus some excellent across device communication that would allow you to “pick up where you left off” when you move from Desktop to Mobile and vice versa, and also to use your Mac to receive SMS messages and even phone calls through a deeper link integration to your iOS devices.
All very nice, but with the bulk of the Apple attention on the iPhone and iPad, lets look at what the next operating system for those devices has to offer..
Here’s my key highlights for things I’m looking forward to seeing in iOS version 8 which will be available for all iPhone from the iPhone 4S onward from later this year (Spring)
Apple has recognised the boom in health monitoring and tracking apps – things like the Jawbone Up, Fitbit, Runkeeper, WiiThings Scales and blood pressure monitors – so they have created a system within the new phone software apps that means you can have one central HEALTH app that knows all the data available – exercise via things like Runkeeper, Sleep and Steps from fitness bands and trackers, blood pressure or weight – any info you might currently be getting in a whole bunch of single apps will soon be centrally located in one HEALTH app.
You can dig into each individual source of information and choose what to display on your “Health” dashboard. There is also talk of this data then feeding back to your doctor which while interesting is likely to be some way off for Australians.
Similar to health, there are lots of apps controlling devices. For example, all the lights at my house can be controlled via an app – as can my air conditioning – all remotely via the device. Apple wants to centralise all this so you don’t have to jump between a heap of apps to do basic tasks.
Again, it’s a great move, right at the start of this boom, which – assuming the device and app makers integrate with – will be a real saving grace for smart home device owners.
After the $19billion acquisition of what’s app by Facebook, Apple has adopted some very “similar” features, like location sharing, voice and video messaging and more.. all within its messaging app.
Even when locked you can just pickup your phone and “hear” messages from friends and reply like making a call. Sharing location for short or long periods of time within iMessages makes a lot more sense than did having a distinct app (Find my friends) and should prove very popular.
FAMILY ITUNES ACCOUNTS
If you have kids, this is perfect. The kids have an account, but to purchase they have to “ask” permission – the permission request comes to the parent as a pop up on their phone, which they can agreed to or decline!
Family Sharing will be great for those with multiple users and devices in the home – even when you’re at the shops the kids can request buying apps from anywhere they are and the notification comes straight to your phone.
This also makes it easier to separate out the individual devices on iCloud accounts for Find my phone and other applications.
What’s not clear yet is if and how families can share their iCloud storage.
SMART KEYBOARD PREDICTIONS
The keyboard in iOS 8 will predict and suggest words (nothing new to those who’ve used Android), and it will do this depending on context (now that’s cool!)… So, if you’re talking to your boss via email and write “Did you want to catch up for a -” the keyboard might suggest “Coffee” or “meeting”.. but if you’re talking with a mate it knows you are relaxed and learns the language you use, so might suggest the next word is “beer” or “pizza”
In addition to this – Apple is making it possible to install 3rd party keyboards. Another thing Android has had for a while, but also a real potential security risk – so do so at your own risk is the basic message. You see a keyboard being “monitored” means the things you type (like bank login info) can be captured. Now that’s a bit alarmist I know, and I for one can’t wait for SWYPE typing and will be happy to accept that risk. Expect these app developers to set out clearly their security measures and privacy policies.
Even on the iPhone 4s – now over 3 years old, iOS 8 will operate. and a common complaint is BATTERY LIFE…
Apple makes no claims about amazing battery life (perhaps that will come with the new iPhone?) – but they do offer a new feature – a list of battery consumption by APP (yes, Android has had tis for some time) – this list will tell you clearly what apps are using up the most battery – allowing you to choose which apps to use less – and in time those apps will be updated to offer better performance!
We’ll probably find that in fact it’s not the “iPhone” with a crap battery, it’s actually one of those games or social media apps you love so much..