Apple’s WWDC 2014 was solely focused on software-based enhancements. These include tight coupling of iOS and Mac OS integration, significant iCloud enhancements, additional Siri features, enterprise enhancements, and sub-platforms for health and home.
iOS continues to evolve; ties deepen with Mac OS – Apple stressed the importance of uniformity across the installed base [something akin to Windows Platform], easing developer requirements as well as providing a more secure experience (in contrast to fragmentation on Android). It was noted that 89% of iPhone users are currently running the latest iteration of the platform (iOS 7), compared to only 9% of Android users running KitKat
Apple previewed the new iOS 8 upgrade which features a refined notification center, improvements to Messages, Mail, and Safari, in addition to QuickType, which provides predictive typing suggestions and has the ability to learn a user’s tendencies.
Apple’s launch of the Touch ID API provides third-party apps with the ability to use Touch ID (fingerprint sensor technology). This not only provides immediate app and security enhancements for third-party iOS apps, but it is also another important step towards a broader mobile payments platform as it moves iOS closer to finger print secured payments outside of just iTunes today. Swift, a new programming language, was also introduced which was noted to be fast, modern, safe, and interactive. If Swift takes off with developers, it could provide a new source of platform differentiation for iOS.
HealthKit and Health app – The new HealthKit aims to break down barriers, allowing apps to gather information and control devices from a more centralized point. With Health, potential use cases span both consumer driven information and data for medical professionals. On the consumer front, Nike’s Nike+ app was cited as an example of pulling together sensor data from multiple apps into one place to measure progress towards fitness goals. The Mayo Clinic app was used as an example to illustrate how a user’s blood pressure reading can be compared with “normal” levels and automatically notify a care provider if the metric falls outside of normal metrics. Apple’s Goal is to push hard to become a defacto platform standard for health, medical and the broader wearables categories over time
Apple Moves on the Home Automation Front with HomeKit It aims to unify these devices, providing for a common communication protocol. Apple has partnered with the leaders in home automation to provide secure pairing, the ability to control devices individually as well as in groups, and Siri integration. For example, a user telling Siri to “get ready for bed” which triggers the garage doors to close, the doors to lock, and the lights to shut off. This Home sub-platform, coupled with the Health sub-platform, highlight Apple’s desires to extend the reach of the iOS ecosystem and further integrate its functionality into the burgeoning Internet of Things.
New Mac OS Yesomite for iOS like ExperienceThe Yesomite update for Mac OS features a redesigned interface, as well as new notification center that’s similar to the experience on iOS devices. Importantly, Apple strengthened the tie between Mac OS and iOS devices with its new Continuity features that allow a more seamless transition across devices.