Apple Excites Developers; Debuts iOS 8 And New OS X

The announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference won’t be immediately inducing consumers to key in their credit card numbers for dazzling new hardware -- there wasn’t any shown. But there were some software developments that have yesterday’s target -- the people who create things to do with that hardware -- quite excited, according to several accounts.

“The biggest cheers of the event were reserved for a new programming language called Swift,” writes Daisuke Wakabayashi in the Wall Street Journal. “Apple said the new language will make it easier and faster to write apps.”

“From a consumer standpoint, all of this may seem like nothing,” 18-year-old developer Joe Kennedy tells Wakabayashi. “What they created for developers is something that changes the apps consumers will get in the future.”

“For me, the new language is huge,” Matt Craig, head of technology for the Foundry, tells the New York Times’ Brian X. Chen, confirming the impression of another developer, Miguel Rodriquez, who overall said he “found the Apple event impressive.”

Apple also took the wraps off of OS X Yosemite for Macs and iOS 8 for its mobile devices and demonstrated how they will work better together when they’re available to consumers in the fall. “A phone conversation on an iPhone can be transferred to a Mac,” for instance, as Chen writes.

Investors, however, were not particularly impressed by the focus on software and what it might bring in the future, reports USA Today’s Matt Kranz: “The list of new features were iterative or duplicates of things already done by others in technology -- none lending the confidence that Apple is regaining its innovation swagger,” he writes. The stock, which has risen an optimistic 12% this year, was down 0.7% yesterday.

While may not have announced any hardware products, Apple “is expected to join the wearable devices race with its own long-rumored ‘iWatch’” that will tie into a Health app it showed off yesterday,” write Tim Bradshaw and Richard Waters in the Financial Times. And the app plays well with others, too.

“Health will provide a central repository for data from a range of other apps made by independent developers, from activity monitoring wristbands such as Fitbit and Jawbone to weight, heart rate and blood pressure measures,” they report.

Those all-important developers will get their hands on HealthKit, “a suite of new tools … that will enable them to integrate your health data,” into additional new apps, Macworld’s Susie Ochs reports.

As for Health, iOchs tells us, it’s “meant to do more than show users their data — the app wants to make it possible for you to share your health information with your doctor. To start, Apple is partnering with the Mayo Clinic.”

As re-reported previously, Apple is also venturing into the “quickly crowding field of automated home gadgets and appliances,” as NPR’s Elise Hu blogs. “HomeKit is its entrance into a nascent, fragmented market for home automation, aka the Internet of Things.”

“There are great apps and devices on the market, but we thought we could bring some rationality to this,” Apple software chief Craig Federighi said, Hu reports.

Other software improvements include:

  • iMessage “is getting a steroid injection,” reports Charles Arthur in The Guardian. “It will be able to send audio or video messages (which will expire after two minutes unless you opt to keep them), and group chats have been made simpler to participate in and leave.”
  • iCloud Drive, which The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger describes as “a Dropbox-like file system for storing your documents in the cloud. Each app you use with iCloud Drive gets its own folder inside the interface, which you can access through the Finder, and files are synced across OS X, iOS, and Windows. And for people with large photo libraries, iCloud storage will be cheaper in the future — up to 20 gigabytes of cloud storage will run 99 cents per month, reports Apple Insider.
  • TNW has compiled “everything Apple announced at WWDC 2014 in one handy list.”

Despite the lack of gadgets that incite consumer to line up at the door, many analysts took the not-too-long view that there could again be long lines by the end of 2014.

“The announcements represent an ambitious move to diversify the Apple ecosystem into a number of new segments,” Geoff Blaber, an analyst at the CCS Insight consultancy tells the BBC’s Joe Miller. “Critics will complain of no new devices but the Worldwide Developers Conference creates the foundation for the products [Apple COO] Tim Cook is promising in the second half of the year.”

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