Another year, another Apple World Wide Developer’s Conferences. This used to be the time we’d get all the dirt on Apple’s new hardware for the holiday season, but the Cupertino titan has scaled it back to software-only in the past few years, you know, for the developers. Here’s the lowdown on the software that’s coming soon to the iPhone in your pocket or the MacBook on your lap.
There are few things more important to Apple right now than the software that drives the millions of iDevices out in the wild. iOS8 isn’t the complete overhaul of last year’s iOS7 upgrade, but there are a slew of nice features that we’re happy to see finally get baked into iOS. Firstly, there’s been a major upgrade to predictive text message. Called QuickType, the context-sensitive predictions will work system-wide, not just when you’re typing a text or email. Hopefully that alleviates some of the ducking problems we’ve had with typing on the iPhone’s keyboard from day one. Also notable are new improvements to Siri. Now you’ll be able to summon the helper AI without the use of a button. Simply saying “Hey Siri” will put her front and center on the screen and ready to take your commands - and, really, isn’t it about time that somebody listened to you? Other more minor bells and whistles include improvements to iMessages like sending voice clips (or, you know, you could just make a phone call), and third-party TouchID integration so, presumably, you can just use your thumb to log into Yahoo’s app come Fantasy Football season.
AKA Yosemite. Translucent menu bars might not have blown our skirts up, but the new additions to the Notification Center, centralized Spotlight, and the tighter integration Yosemite allows between your computer and your phone are pretty damn impressive. We’re especially keen on AirDrop’s new ability to send files from computer to iPhone (and vice versa) and a host of new improvements that make OSX play nice with iOS. Oh yeah, and iCloud will now allow for mail attachments of up to 5 GBs...because Gmail’s pesky 15MB limit really puts a damper on how many selfies we can send out at a time.
We actually expected this to be a bigger part of today’s announcement. Not so. Apple’s inclusion of Health Tracking abilities has a long history, going all the way back to when they partnered with Nike for health accessories and recording. The big deal, if it really is a big deal, is that Apple is now offering their own metric measuring systems to third-party developers. That means your iPhone will now be the one device you need for your workout, so say so long to heart-rate monitoring watches and other fitness accessories. We expect this integration to be a bigger deal if Apple does finally come through with their iWatch this year.
Another component that was supposed to make a splash today but wound up being mostly glossed over was HomeKit, Apple’s first attempt at making their devices an essential part of home automation. The nod to the new software was a short and sweet promise that they’re working with “the leaders” in home automation. Who those leaders are, exactly, remains to be seen and is currently anyone’s guess. Apple is definitely on track to making your home look a lot more like one you’d see on TheJetsons but, for the time being, they’re just teasing at their own involvement.