Apple WWDC: Focus on Home & Health

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote may have lacked the sparkle and shine of new hardware unveils. But what the conference lacked in eye candy was made up for in the potential of the new application platforms. Apple outlined a roadmap for revolutionary change in its software and eventually, its hardware. Surprisingly, Apple is opening the doors to third-party app developers and partners.

The overarching themes of the keynote revolved around continuity, collaboration, and connective tissue. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the larger announcements Apple made at the conference.

Supported by Apple’s new iOS8 SDK, the HomeKit smart-home platform is intended to place Apple as a major contender in the household automation industry. The system itself is not revolutionary, there are platforms available today that allow you to remotely set your thermostat, lock your doors, or remotely spy on your teenager in your living room. What Apple hopes to achieve is to streamline the home-monitoring process through the assistance of Siri, and the variety of Apple products you presumably have around your home.

With Apple’s recent acquisition of Nest, the learning thermostat, conference attendees were not surprised to learn that Apple has plans to enter the smart-home market. What was surprising, though, was that Nest was not mentioned as part of the rollout plan for HomeKit. It appears as though Nest will not be part of the HomeKit experience, at least for the time being. Skeptics believe Apple cannot enter the smart-home industry on their own, and need at least one key player in the industry to endorse Apple’s toolkit as the best platform for home automation.

Like the HomeKit, HealthKit is supported by Apple’s iOS8 SDK. HealthKit is designed to offer users a single communication platform for the “quantified self” in the form of a health app. Apple is already behind the times when it comes to Health apps and device implementation. With Samsung’s S Health App and Gear Fit Smartwatch, it seems Apple is being reactive rather than proactive in the health app department. But, the Health App shows promise, especially considering the announced partnership with Nike.

Nike has built and partnered with Health Apps supported by iOS platforms in the past, but the data does not belong to Apple. Apple hopes to make HealthKit a central data storage center for individual’s health data via a variety of hardware and software partners.

Operation System Updates
In an effort to promote continuity, Apple introduced the updated Notification Center, which looks very similar to the existing Center. But Apple announced a number of changes to the updated Center. First, iPhone phone calls can now seamlessly appear on your Mac OS X Yosemite desktop. Second, AirDrop now lets you drop your files between iPhones and Macs. Third, notifications in iOS 8 will be interactive, allowing users to respond to messages within a space just below the notification.

Although cloud storage can be a bad word for many people, the iCloud is getting some major updates. iPhoto will now automatically upload images to the iCloud, allowing users access to the photos from any of their Apple devices.

The most exciting component of the conference, for developers, was Apple’s willingness to develop with third-party companies. The future of apps and Apple mobile app capabilities looks promising, and could be dramatically different (in a good way) in the foreseeable future. See, when everyone works together, greatness can be achieved!

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